Saturday, September 12, 2015

Hiking Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail

Bellamy Bridge TrailheadAbout 11 miles from the entrance to Florida Caverns State Park, along County Rd 162, this is about a one mile round-trip hike leads out to the historic Bellamy Bridge.  This was replaced a few wooden bridges that were built as far back as 1851.  The  metal bridge that is there now was in use from 1914 through 1963 when it was replaced with the cement bridge that crosses the Chipola River on CR 162.  Today, this is the oldest (and most haunted) bridge of this type in the state of Florida.Trail view 2

Entering the woods from the trailhead the path is wide and clear, so it is easy to navigate and is clear of poison ivy.  There are several (I think I counted three) benches along the way.  The trail itself is hard packed dirt and easy to walk.  There is one spot that might get a little soft during the rainy season, but it has been a dry summer, so we didn’t even get our shoes muddy on this hike.

Old collapsed footbridgeWhere the trail crosses an area that appears to be a dried up creek, the remains of an old footbridge can be seen but a newer boardwalk spans the area spot a little to the right.

Approaching BridgeFrom here it is just a hundred yards or so to the bridge.  As we approached, we also noted that there was an information kiosk at the bridge.

Belamy Bridge-2The bridge itself is pretty neat; it has a fence in front of it in case visitors don’t notice that there is no deck to walk on.  I’m sure there are those who might be brave/foolish enough to try to cross it anyway… if they do, I hope they first notice all of the cypress knees below that would make for a very uncomfortable landing.

Cypress Crab MonsterThe view of the river is also nice here.  Just on the other side of the river is a tangle of cypress knees and roots that looks like a monster laying in wait. And the view upstream reflects the blue sky off the water.

For what was once a small piece of road and a short bridge, this site has a lot of history (including a few ghost stories).  If you would like to learn more, there is a website (BellamyBridge.org) with a lot more information.  If you would like to see where these photos were taken, see the technical details, or simply download a .gpx file of this hike, click on the “Trip details” link at the bottom of the map below the photos.

Information Kiosk-1 Information Kiosk-2 Bellamy Bridge-1Bellamy Bridge-3
Bellamy Bridge-4Upstream view Bellamy Bridge-5 Cypress tangleGrowing cypress knee

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