Friday, January 15, 2016

Hiking Sandhills Conservation Area–A second visit

It’s been almost two years since I’ve visited the trails back here, and with a free afternoon this weekend before the rainy weather comes I wanted to take another look.

Dry Swamp - panoDry Swamp:  Notice the waterline on the trees

Red trail viewThis trail heads north from Lake Picket Rd. along a red-blazed trail which leads up to a road under power lines that bisect the area.  The red trail (and the yellow trail loop) is wide and easy to walk, which make this a perfect spot for a family afternoon-hike.

Creek crossing trailWhen the trail reaches the power lines, a left turn will lead to the north west where a stream runs under the trail.  While the trail provides firm (and dry) footing, the stream on either side has made a small canyone throught the sand.Palmettos and blue sky

After only about 1,000 feet, the red trail goes back into the trees where it soon meets up with the yellow balloon loop.  I turned left here because I wanted to see how close I could get to the river with the water levels as low as they are right now.

Game trail to riverIs I followed the yellow trail to the north, it eventually started wrapping off to the right as the loop was about to bring me back, but instead I followed a fire break that had been tilled which took me further to the north.  Along this trail I found a game trail that looked like a promising path off to the river.Econ river-2

It doesn’t look like much in the photo, but it was pretty easy to follow after brushing past the palmettos.  This trail brought me to what looked like a dry creek bed that likely feeds the river with rainwater during the wet season.  Following the creek bed brought me to the area of the river that I was looking for.

Small creek to crossI explored along the river for awhile (that’s where I took the panoramic picture at the top of this post) and eventually returned to the firebreak by way of another game trail. The firebreak ended just a little bit before a small creek where the trail that I followed was yet another game trail.Econ river-3

I was able to follow the game trail easily through the woods all the way to the northern border of the conservation area next to the river.

As I returned back to the yellow trail loop, I followed a couple of game trails to the east for a short distance and found that most of the area on that side of the trail remains “marshy”, so I am saving that exploration for another trip.  If you would like to see the technical details of the hike, or download a gpx file to use as a guide, click on the “Trip Details” link at the bottom of the map.

Photo Gallery:
Hover for description, click for full size

Parking area Trailhead kiosk Trail under power lines
Red trail into trees Dry creek bed Econ river-1
Firebreak heading north Small pond area Back on yellow trail
Split cypress   Deer moss

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