Friday, May 13, 2016

Hiking Canaveral Marshes Conservation Area

With the great weather holding up, I went back to Canaveral Marshes to explore the eastern side.  I hit at just the right time of day for wildlife viewing and saw deer, wild hogs, raccoons, alligators, and even a momma Florida Softshell turtle at her nest.

Momma Leatherback-2
Momma Florida Softshell turtle at her nest

The first half mile was the same trail that I followed on my previous hike, however instead of turning to the west at the end, I headed to the east.  The eastbound portion of the trail is about a mile long with a canal on the north side, and marshlands on the south.

Dry marsh-pano
Dry Marsh by the trail

Water hazard-1At the end of the eastbound trail, there is an intersection with an older north/south trail – there was a little water here, but not enough to block the way.  During the rainy season, though, this spot will probably take some wading to pass.  A little further south (about two tenths of a mile), I was glad that I carry my “muckin’ shoes”.  Here, a wide shallow creek connects the marsh lands to a small pond off the the north east.Bridge over canal

The trail continues another four tenths of a mile to the south before coming to a small footbridge that crosses the Ellison-Addison Canal.  The canal was supposedly intended to drain the marshes along the St. John’s River into the Indian River, but the project ran out of money.  It is believed that, had they succeeded, they would have actually flooded the marshes with salt water and could very well have rendered the land along the river completely unusable.  This would have stopped agriculture and could very well have kept people from ever living in central Florida.

Trail view-2After crossing the bridge (it is a lot more solid that it looks), the trail leads through a narrow area of palm and cedar trees that runs along side the same canal for about seven tenths of a mile.  Along the way, this shaded part of the trail goes through two stiles; the second of which brought me to The Great Outdoors RV Resort. Florida trail info

At The Great Outdoors,  there is a Florida Trail sign along with a map and some information about the area.  The map is a little faded, but the list of waypoints with the distance between each is very handy.

Circle blaze - strangeHeading south from here for a little less than half a mile, I saw the white blaze that I was looking for in the oak hammock off too the west.  This oak hammock has grown over an unnamed shell mound.  The blazes through the hammock were easy to see and follow until I came to the spot with a circle blaze.  I have no idea what this is supposed to mean, unless it is marking a spot for some reason.  Water hazard-2

The white blazes lead me out of the hammock where I followed a trail to the south, but not before marking a big arrow in the sand in case I needed to back track.  There was another water hazard along this portion of the trail that i used my “muckin’ shoes” to pass, but with the water levels low this time of year, it wasn’t difficult to pass.

Yellow and Orange BlazesOn the way to the river I passed another white blaze that led back into the woods.  I looked around the river’s edge for a bit before heading back and re-entering the hammock at the blaze.  There are a lot of trails in the hammock – I passed white, yellow, blue and orange (Florida Trail) blazes.  I decided to switch over to the Florida Trail blazes and made my way back to the RV resort to head back.

This is another great hiking spot if the weather is right.  During the rainy season I would expect to see a lot more water on the trails, and much of the hike is without shade.  The breeze blowing off the river was also good for keeping mosquitoes away.  This weekend the weather couldn’t have been any better for this trip.

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Trailhead map Trail view-1 Trail intersection
First blaze The old footbridge View towards river

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