Sunday, February 12, 2023

Hiking from Dixie Lake to Lake Louisa

Cabins across from Lake Dixie
View Across Dixie Lake

Today was a very windy and slightly rainy day, but it still made for a good hike.  The trails between Dixie Lake and Lake Louisa are wide and dry.  This hike was about six miles long, but it could easily be broken down into smaller hikes, as I jumped from one trailhead to the next.  There are so many trails, and many of them cross each other, that the easiest way to navigate is to get a map from the ranger station and then hike “by the numbers”.  I just picked the path that I wanted to take, and followed the numbered trail markers according to my plan.  One nice thing is that all of the informational kiosks have a “you are here” marker on them, which made it easy to gauge my distance for the portion of this hike that went along the road between trails.

Kiosk at Lake LouisaThe first trailhead is across the street from the Dixie Lake day-use area.  My plan was to hike to the  west until I got to Big Creek and then follow that to the north until I reached the second trailhead.  There was a sign along the way that identified the area as “Sandhill Loop”, but  I didn’t see anything on the map with that name, so I wondered if that might be an old marker that just hasn’t been removed.

Big CreekBig Creek is about a half mile from the trailhead, and looks like a typical creek for Florida – shallow flowing water with that deep brown color from the cypress trees and their tannic acids.  From this point the trail heads towards the north where it crosses a paved road to arrive at the next trailhead.

First Bridge over Big CreekFor this section of the hike it really was “by the numbers”.  From this trailhead I continued to the north where I crossed a small bridge that spans Big Creek and then I kept going until I reached marker 25. 

Mosquito Feeding StationShortly after passing the Mosquito Feeding-Station (my name for any bench installed by a swamp), there was one spot where a couple of downed trees and wet areas made it difficult to see the  trail.  It seems that the trail somehow worked its way back to the paved road to get past the wet area and then turned right back into the woods. 

Trail Marker 25Trail marker 25 was a key waypoint for me, as it helped me identify where I needed to look for my return trip.  On the way back, I planned to follow trail marker 18.  A line drawn between 18 and 25 is almost perpendicular to the  paved road, so with that marked on my GPS it would be simple to find where I needed to turn.

Lake Louisa BeachFollowing the numbered trail markers in descending order, I arrived at the Lake Louisa beach area after marker number 21.  There is a pretty good sized boardwalk through a swampy area along the way, and a bridge passing over a swamp between the beach parking area and the beach itself.

Palmetto FieldMy return trip from the beach started with about a one-mile hike along the paved road until I reached the trail that I was looking for.  This portion of the hike goes through a large field of palmettos for about 3/4 of a mile.  As with the rest of this hike though, the trail is wide and dry.  I suspect the windy conditions was the explanation for the lack of birds in the area.

Contrasting ColorsAfter re-entering the forest, I was about one mile away from the second bridge crossing Big Creek.  There was a section here that was really pretty, partly because of how large the area was.  It was covered in bright tan/yellow grasses with spots of dark green from palmettos and pines.  The colors contrasted so strongly.

Second Bridge over Big CreekCrossing the second bridge over Big Creek had me about two tenths of a mile from picking up the leg of the trail that I headed out on, and only less than half a mile back to the trail head where I started.

So this turned out to be a nice hike even if the weather wasn’t perfect.  As I mentioned, this could easily be broken down into at least three separate hikes if doing all of this at once seems too long.  It was an easy hike all around, and a really pretty spot to do it.

More Photos…

Boardwalk through swamp Big Creek at First Bridge Re-entering Forest
Little Creek Swamp at Lake Louisa Trail Marker

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