Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hiking Bulow Creek State Park–Bulow Sugar Mill Ruins

The yellow blazed trail through Bulow Creek State Park heads to the north up to the Bulow Sugar Mill Ruins.  This hike started at the trailhead on Walter Boardman Ln. with a trailhead kiosk on both sides of the road where maps of the trail are available.

Bulow Sugar Mill PanoBulow Sugar Mill Ruins – Our Destination

Boardman pond-2At about 2 tenths of a mile in the trail has a short spur trail that leads to the Boardman Pond overlook.  The overlook is also visible from the road that approaches the trailhead, to give an idea of how close it is from the start of our hike.  We spent a little time here watching the waterfowl before moving along with towards our destination.

Andy on the trailHeading north again along the yellow trail, the next major landmark is only about 500 feet away from the spur trail intersection.  It is an opening across the trail where the area is crossed by power lines.   The trail crosses back into the woods after the short opening, where a canopy of oaks and palms once again provide a shaded hike.Cisco rapids-3

After about 7 tenths of a mile past the power lines, the trail makes a turn to the west along the shore of Cisco Creek.  There are a few landmarks in a small area at this part of the hike.  The sound of the small “rapids” running over a dam of rocks and sticks are the first indication that the Cisco Rapids bridge is just up ahead.  Pausing at the bridge to look in the clear water several fish can be seen swimming about; I suspect that this creek is fed by at least one of the springs that seem to be in the park. 

Begin green loop-1After crossing the bridge, the trail splits with the yellow blazed trail leading to the east, and a green blazed trail to the north.  Since the green trail was a more direct route to our destination, that is the path that we took for our outbound trip.

Two bridges Start-1After about 6 tenths of a mile, the green trail joins back up with the yellow trail near a spot with two bridges that crossed over a muddy area.  The first of the two bridges has a small turn to it, and the second bridge is straight.  Both are pretty short.

Andy by massive oak stumpThe next major landmark is one that shouldn’t be missed.  A beautiful, massive, tree stump on the edge of the trail has to be seen to be appreciated.  The burls and patterns in the stump would have made some unbelievable wood for a craftsman – the patterns looked almost fluid.

Last bridge to cross-3From here there are just three more bridges to cross – the first one is about 2 tenths of a mile past the massive tree stump, and the second one is about a half mile beyond that.  The last bridge is about another half mile after the second one.  After crossing the last bridge, the trail continues for about 3 tenths of a mile more before opening up at the Plantation Ruins state park.

View from dockBefore heading up the nature trail to the ruins, we stopped here for lunch and a nice break along the shore of Bulow Creek.  There are several picnic tables here, as well as a dock and a pier.  There’s also a restroom and screened picnic area near the parking spots.Cat faced pine-3

On the west side of the parking area is the entrance to a short nature trail that passes through a lot of pines.  I was surprised to see how many of the pines were cat-faced from the turpentine making era.  Since they don’t seem to do any controlled burns around the ruins, the cat faces were clearly visible.

Approaching Bulow sugar mill ruinsThe nature trail is about 4 tenths of a mile long and passes by the remains (only the footers) of one of the slave houses before approaching the ruins themselves.

The ruins are pretty amazing – they are mostly un-restored, so the natural decay that happened when the site was abandoned can be seen.  Also, there are placards all around the site that describe what different parts of the sugar mill were used for.

.Ruins information plaqueBoiler and machinery roomCooling vats-1

After looking around the ruins for awhile, and spending some time at the nearby interpretive exhibit, we headed back along the same path that we came.  When we got to the intersection of the green and yellow trails though, we took the longer way back by sticking to the yellow blazed trail.

Twisted roots-2Prehistoric swamp-6Prehistoric swamp-4
Views of Prehistoric Florida

This trail passes through a habitat that looks like pre-historic Florida.  A small creek and open swamp looks like it would be an area frequented by large animals with “saurus” in their names.

As always, if you would like to see the technical details of this hike or to download a gpx file, just click on the “Trip Details” link below the map.

Hover over photo for description or click for full size
More photos available in the Photo Gallery

Trailhead kiosk-2 Power lines crossing trail-1Plant by the creek Southbound trail
Trail view-1 Big split stumpAndy taking the lead Cisco rapids bridge-1
Two bridges End-3 Oak stump patterns-2Oak stump patterns-1 Tina by massive oak stump
Small bridge-3 Trail view-3 Nature trail to ruins
Tina crossing bridge Andy in hollow treeWell Looking up at oak
Spring house-2 Ruins-2Trail to spring house-2 Bulowville sign

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