Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Hiking Rock Springs Run State Reserve–and a visit to Ethel Cemetery

Beginning of trailWe started our hike this weekend at Parking Area 1 and headed to the west of the main road to see what we could find in the prairie and woods of Rock Springs Run.  The trail enters the woods just to the north of the parking area.  As we headed out, I had a feeling that I was forgetting something, and after walking through the first spider web I realized we left our hiking poles (we also call them our spider sticks) in the truck.  A quick retrace of our steps and we were off.Hunt stand-2

We weren’t too far in to the woods when we spotted a hunt stand near the trail.  This weekend was open for bow hunting, but the official website said that the park is open for hiking and that some trails will be closed for safety.  Luckily this trail wasn’t closed, and we also started a little later in the day than usual.  Today’s hunt seemed to be mostly in the southern section of the park, so all we saw were trucks leaving on the main road.

Small bridgeJust before the skirting the first pond we crossed a small wooden bridge that crossed a narrow creek.  Other than a bench at the 1-mile marker, this is the only man-made structure that we saw in the prairie.

Praire under blue skyOnce the trail led out of the woods, the prairie really opens up.  The pines and palmettos seem to go on as far as the eye can see.  The hike through this portion of the park continues until we hit the 1-mile marker. 

Trail went around this roadFrom the 1-mile marker, the red blazed trail enters the woods; it is easy to miss the trail since it branches off of a dirt road / horse trail that continues straight ahead.  There are a couple of spots back in this portion that have some mud, but the boards thrown over the top are more than enough to allow passage with dry feet.  The red blazed trail runs parallel to the horse trail, and at one point they almost touched.  It was here that I took the picture of the long water hazard that we avoided.Trail through oaks and moss-2

Eventually the red blazed trail joins up again with one of the roads/horse trails as it takes us further south to a marked intersection.  The trail to the south is the “Challenge Trail”… to the east is the “Pond Trail”.  We stuck with the Pond Trail for today’s trip.

This time of year the wild flowers are coming into bloom, and of course the butterflies are out in force doing what they do best. 












We continued our hike from the “butterfly garden” up past an area that used to be home to a cabin back in that was torn down some time in 2010 or 2011.  We looked around for a bit but couldn’t find any traces of it, so we continued along the trail until we made it back to the truck for lunch before heading out to the Ethel Cemetery.

Trail towards Ethel CemeteryThe trail entrance that leads to the area of the cemetery is right across the road from the parking area.  Rather than head south towards the cemetery, we decided to look around the area that was due east of us first.  There is a kiosk next to Ethel Rd that has a brief description of the town of Ethel on one side, and a little about Rock Springs Run Preserve on the other.Ethel Cemetery-1

The cemetery to the south is what we really came to see though.  This is the surviving piece of Ethel, and only has three headstones remaining after vandals and nature have had their way with the markers of others buried here.

Woodmen of the World headstone-2By far, the most interesting headstone is the one for Luke Moore.  As a member of the Woodmen of the World, he has one of the distinctive tree stump-shaped headstones that was given to their members up until the 1930’s.The Moore's Headstone-2

Near this headstone is one for baby Joseph who lived for less than a year. 

In the northwest corner of the graveyard is the third head-stone.  This unique headstone marks the resting place of Wm and Charlotte Moore.

This area has an interesting history, including the story of the hiker who rediscovered this site and became the force for it’s restoration.  Tony Moore, a fellow hiker, found this site pretty much by accident.  Intrigued by a headstone with a matching last name, he became the one that brought this site out for the rest of us to appreciate.

As always, technical information about this hike can be found by clicking on the “Trip details” link below the map below the photo dump.

Photo Dump:  Hover for description or click to open full size

Parking Area 1 Purple wildflowersTrail view 1a White blazes
Trail view 1 White blazes Pines and palmettos
Praire trail Bench at 1-mile marker-1 Board over muddy spot
More boards over mud Pond Trail heads east Trail view 2
Tina at the 2-mile mark Palmetto praire Blue sky over pines and palmettos
There used to be a cabin here-2 Andy at trail marker Ethel Florida Kiosk
RSRSP Kiosk Baby Joseph's headstoneAndy on the trail back Spooky cemetery tree
WotW headstone seal Headstone poem Trail view 3

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