Sunday, February 07, 2016

Hiking Lake Harney Wilderness Area

Beginning of trailFor such a short hike, this trail has something to offer for everyone.  Beautiful scenery, historical artifacts and pre-history.  It really is a nice spot to visit.  The trail starts just to the north of the parking area where there is a historical marker describing a little of the history for this area, and a trailhead kiosk with maps / pamphlets and a sign in sheet.Tables under oak tree

Heading to the north east from the trailhead, there southern side of the trail is fenced off as a bald eagle protection area.  Keep a sharp eye on this area and you may see an eagle or two, or even their nest.

Leggo flowersAfter less than half a mile, the trail is intersected by the River Loop.  There is a really nice spot for a picnic lunch on the northern route, and the early spring flowers are just starting to come into bloom.

Shell middenAs the river comes into view, there is an indian mound along the edge of the trail that is in almost pristine condition.  The midden is completely covered with plants and soil, and with no fallen trees it was difficult to confirm.  Looking around I eventually found a burrow (probably from a tortoise) that had a few shells that had been pushed out when it was dug.

Tangled RootsA little further to the north there is a really interesting oak leaning over the river.  As I looked around this tree, I found a couple of old bricks in the roots that may have once been part of the Osceola Sawmill that was active in the early 1900’s a little further up the river.Information kiosk

Along the river towards the south is another information kiosk.  The photos in the upper right of the kiosk include one from a fellow Florida hiker that has been an inspiration for many of us who explore:  Tom Choma.  You can see his blog on the list of hiking blogs on the right hand column.

Shells from indian moundThis kiosk mentions the indian mounds in this area, and I was surprised to see that it is surrounded with evidence of shells from one of those middens.  I don’t know if the sign itself is mounted on one, or if what I was looking at was the results of a midden that had been “harvested” for fill back when the old railroad went through here.  If you notice the ground in this picture you can see just how many of those shells are visible.Overlook and totem

Beyond this kiosk, there is an overlook built along the river over the remains of the Florida East Coast Railway trestle embankment.

Old fishcamp dockFurther south of this spot, the remains of an old dock that is likely from the Osceola Fish Camp can be seen by the river.  It was in this area that I came across several large snail shells that were left after an animal’s lunch.Trail view

The trail soon wraps back around to close the ballon portion of this trip.  The timing was pretty good to get to the end as the expected rain was just starting to fall. 

For just a 2.5 mile hike, this trail has something to suit everyone.  If you would like to see the technical details of this hike, or the location of the photos taken, click on the “Trip Details” link below the map.

Hover of a photo for description, or click for full size
More photos in the gallery

Historical Marker Trailhead Kiosk Oaks and moss
View across the river Rest area and mosquito feeding station Tangled Roots-3Tom's photo
Timeline-1 Timeline-2 Timeline-3
Trestle remains Bascule bridge remains County historial marker
Empty snail shells Old brick-possibly from old saw mill Painted tree

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