Friday, June 09, 2017

Hiking Baynard Trail–Hillsborough River SP

We woke up in the morning to a light rain shower that finished with plenty of time left for a morning hike along the Baynard Trail and Florida Trail.

Otter on a River Rock

Jurassic entranceWe started our hike at the suspension bridge that crosses the Hillsborough River.  This bridge was built by the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) in 1934, and looks like it is right off a movie set that could have been used for the entrance to Jurassic Park.Andy by fern covered log

On the north side of the river is a map of the Baynard Trail, which I believe was put up by the Eagle scouts.  The trail to the north to make a 1.1 mile loop.  The trail follows the river for about a quarter of a mile before turning to the north and heading through the woods.  After heading north for a short distance, the trail turns to the west and runs parallel to the northern boarder of the park for about a quarter of a mile.

FLTrail MapThere are several boardwalks along the way, but the ground below them was dry due to the recent drought that we’ve been having.  Most of the resurrection ferns were still closed up, even after the rain that feel overnight and into the morning.

Blue Heron-1After turning to the south for about a quarter of a mile, the trail intersects with small spur that branches to the east leading to the Florida Trail.  It was this part of the river where we saw the most wildlife.

Big gator-5Along part of the way, there was a deer that stayed just far enough in back that we couldn’t get a good picture, but along the river we did spot an otter (the photo at the top) next to a blue heron fishing for lunch.  Both of these guys were hanging out on the rocks/coquina in the middle of the river.

Tina and Andy by treeOf course no Florida waterway is complete without a gator siting, and this was no exception.  We saw one young alligator (probably about four feet long) and one very mature gator that was probably closing in on about ten feet long.

Ancient fallen log-1The Florida Trail follows the river for about a mile and a half to the western border of the park before turning to the north.  On this leg of the trail is a an incredibly old oak tree.  The trunk of this tree is easily over six feet in diameter, and the burls around the roots make it even larger.

Before too long, there is another branch on the trail that leads to a primitive camping area.  It looks like there were several campsites there, and only one was in use on this morning.  It seems to be a very primitive area – there isn’t much to see other than a few areas cleared for tents.

From the camping area, it is only about a mile to the end of the loop which brings us back to the sign with the map.  From there we took the fixed footbridge back to the parking area to round out the hike for the day.  Both of these are pretty trails that are very well marked and cleared.  Good times!

Baby gator-2
Young Gator
Coquina in the river-2
Coquina in the  River

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