Thursday, March 31, 2016

Hiking the Yellow Trail at Oscar Scherer SP

We started this hike at the trailhead for the Blue Trail just to the northwest of Lake Osprey.  Shortly after starting the trail there is a sign that marks a recent (about 1 month old) burn, and it is surprising to see just how quickly the plant life starts to return. 

Suspension bridge-2
Andy at Suspension Bridge

Like lavenderFeb 2016 Burn-2Continuing to the north, we turned east at the beginning of the balloon portion of this trail where there was another sign identifying a burn that was done in June of last year. 

While it is interesting to see how quickly the plant and animal life rejuvenates the area after a burn, the views on this portion of the trail weren’t much to look at.  This trail is also almost all sugar-sand, so we were anxious to cross over to the Yellow trail.

Oscar Scherer StationWe did that at the northeast corner of the balloon portion where we crossed over the 20 mile Legacy Trail next to Scherer Station.  Less than 50 yards from the legacy trail is the first of ten benches along the trail – this one is marked with a memorial plaque.

From this bench the trail leads to the east, and we then followed it to the south where a suspension bridge crosses South Creek.  This far upstream, the creek is not influenced by the tidal action as it is further downstream.  Continuing south for about another tenth of a mile, the trail makes a turn to the northeast.  The trail here crosses through a prairie of scrub plants with wide open views.

 Tina on the trail
Tina crossing through the prairie

Trail into woodsAs we followed this trail towards Big Lake, we noticed a forest road that went back towards south creek and entered the woods.  Curious what we might find, we headed this way to have a quick look and found a hog trap with an ominous warning to leave the trap alone or “you could die”.Lake overlook-2

That warning was pretty clear, so we left the trap alone and continued along our way to the overlook on the edge of Big Lake.  This is a good spot for birdwatching, and you might notice from the picture that it is ADA accessible.

Dead tree and cloudsLeaving the lake overlook behind, the trail started getting a lot more interesting and scenic.  The next landmark that we came to was a small bridge that crossed a very small creek that doesn’t seem to have a name.  Here the trail became much more grassy and is also where we saw our first of several cat faced pines.  Cat faced pine-5

Cat faced pines are pine trees that show evidence of cut to collect the sap of the tree for making turpentine.  In the late 1800’s to early 1900’s there was a big turpentine industry in Florida – there are some really interesting stories out there about who worked in these camps, and what the conditions were like.  It’s some interesting history to read about.

Down streamMost of the cat faced pines that we saw still had the metal channels nailed to them, so it wasn’t difficult to identify them.

We continued to the north towards bench #6 where the yellow trail splits into two branches – one branch leads to the west back towards where we started, and the other continues to the north.  We went to the west, just as far as a bridge that crosses South Creek again, to take a few pictures before continuing to the north.Burrow in shell midden-2

Heading north, the trail runs alongside the creek for awhile where we saw a bald eagle flying around.  Unfortunately we weren’t quick enough with the camera, so we just watched him fly off into the trees.  When we came to the northernmost portion of the trail, it turned back to the west where it passes right next it a native American shell midden before crossing another bridge over South Creek.  In this photo there is a burrow (probably from a gopher tortoise) in the midden.

Trail view-5Heading south from the bridge, the trail continues through the forest where palms and oaks provide plenty of shade before eventually opening back up to the scrub prairie. 

We followed the trail south through the prairie before heading back to the west to join up with the Legacy Trail again.  We followed the legacy trail back to the youth campground and then back to our campsite to wrap up this hike.

One really nice thing about this park is the constant breeze that blows in off the ocean, which kept the temperature comfortable while we enjoyed the sights and scenery.  If you would like to see the technical details for this hike, click on “Trip Details” at the bottom of the map below.

Click a photo for full size, or hover for a description.
More photos available in the photo gallery

Blue flower June 2015 Burn-1 Tina at bench 1
Plaque at bench 1 Looking at hog trap You could die
Lake view-1 Andy on Small bridge-1 Mushrooms inside tree-1Red flowers-1
Orb weaver eating yellow jacket-2Top of shell midden Tina on a bridge Large oak

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