Saturday, November 07, 2015

Hiking Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park

Sinkhole

When I arrived at the trailhead off Route 46, I was surprised to find that it was full; there was a search and rescue group at the park doing some practice / training for their upcoming qualification tests.  Other than at the trailhead, I didn’t see any of them while I was hiking, but it was interesting to learn about what they were doing.Staff area restricted

Shortly after the trail passes a sinkhole off to the east, the trail led me to a road marked as “restricted”.  It appears to lead to a staff residence, so I continued north through a sparsely wooded area.  My planned route was going to take me along the eastern boarder of the park, so I gave the residence plenty of space.  I ended up passing by a boat storage area that might have also been in the “restricted” area, so I probably should have continued through the woods a little further than I did.

Lake in the field-2The eastern portion of the park is bordered by a pasture, but I didn’t see any horses or livestock in the field.  Following the edge of the field as the trail turns to the north brought me to the edge of a small pond in the field.  It was near this spot that I found a game camera mounted to a fence post.Overgrown trail

This portion of the trail isn’t well traveled; there are several sections where the trail is overgrown with grasses and small shrubs.  The growth looks a little heavier than it is; it was actually very easy to walk through.

Pines and PalmettosBeyond the lake, the trail soon turns to the northeast and runs parallel to Yankee Lake Rd.  From Google Earth, there appears to be a water management facility on this road, but there are enough trees between the trail and the road to hide it from view, so I couldn’t see it.Mushroom breaking out

The trail soon hits a junction with another trail that leads to the west.  This trail passes through an area of pine trees and palmettos.  The trail here is wide and unmarked, so I suspect that it is primarily maintained as a fire break for controlled burns.

View from picnic tableWhen this trail intersected with the main trail, a short turn to the north leads to another westbound trail that leads straight to Katie’s Landing.  Katie’s Landing has a spot for launching canoes and kayaks, as well as several picnic tables.  I couldn’t ask for a nicer view of the Wekiva River while I sat down for lunch.

Baby tortoiseThe trip back to the trailhead is straight along the main trail until it heads south and lets out at the parking area.  There were a couple of pines along the way that might have been showing the scars of old turpentine operations, but they had been through too many burns to tell if they were actually cat-faced, or simply spilt.  I did find a small friend along the way – this tortoise was only about two-inches long, and he was very shy.

I also saw a strange looking nest on the side of one of the trees (about eight feet up).  I tried to take a picture of the inside, but I couldn’t quite reach that high.  It’s the last picture in the photo dump below – if anyone knows what it is, I’d appreciate it if you would let me know.

If you would like to see where these photos were taken or look at the technical detail of this hike, just click on the “Trip Detail” link below the map.

Trailhead Kiosk Old fence post in the woodsGame camera Staff boat storage
Pasture by the trail Lake in the field-1 Trail view-1
Map has seen better days Katie's Landing entrance Katie's Landing info-1
Katie's Landing info-2 Trail view-2 Strange nest

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