Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hiking Seminole St Forest–Lake Tracy Tract

TrailheadI started this hike from the trailhead on Maggie Jones Rd.  There is another entrance 44 (just south of Bottany Woods Dr.) that could be used to make this a shorter hike, but it is difficult to tell if Sod Farm Rd stays on public lands, so I’m not sure if it would be completely  passable.  The road to the trailhead is not paved, but is easy to drive on.Hunter sign-in

Heading south from the trailhead, the first landmark that shows up on the trail is a hunter sign-in kiosk.  Unlike many sign-in spots that ask everyone to sign in, this one seems to be only asking for hunters to log their visit and any game that they’ve taken.  You might notice from the photo how wide the plowed area around the road is – it appears that they are preparing for a controlled burn in this area.  Many of the forest roads are plowed up like this; presumably as fire breaks. 

Trailview-3Heading along this forest road for a little less than .2 miles, a turn to the right eventually leads to an orange blazed post for the Florida Trail. Following the Florida Trail for a bit eventually brought me to another forest road that had been widened into a large fire break.Bear print

The ground here was firm (not sugar sand) but there were a lot of tracks.  This track was one of the clearest bear prints that I’ve seen.  This portion of the hike was about a mile long, but the wide firebreak made it the least interesting part of this hike.

Locked gateAt the end of this firebreak, I came upon a picnic table off to the side of the trail that was about 100 feet from a locked gate.  This gate isn’t “hiker friendly”; it had three padlocks (presumably for registered hunters), but no easy means to pass without a key.  Small pond

Since there were no signs saying not to pass, I took off my daypack and squeezed through the gap between the gate and the post.  From here my destination, an old farmstead, was only about  a half mile away.  (After I got home I reviewed the public land overlay on Trimble Outdoors and found that this is actually a 100 foot wide stretch of private land that seems to only include the fence.)

Old shedThe first building that the trail leads to is an old storage shed.  The shed has some old lumber inside, and is gated to keep cows out.  The shed has a building number on the side, and curiosity has the better of me.  I sent an email to the forestry service to see if they can tell me a little about the farmstead, or at least about what the numbers are for.Old storage building

South of the first building is the frame of what appears to have been another storage shed.  This one has trailer of some sort along the side of it.  The floor/ground under the roof framing is littered with old nails that probably fell as the roof decayed and fell apart.

Farmstead houseThe third and last building is a small house.  There’s not a lot left of the building to make it easy to date, but the paneling on the inside walls, and the color and style of the bathroom fixtures lead me to believe that it was probably built sometime in the 60’s or 70’s.Private property

From here, the trail took me further to the south where I planned to hike back along a forest road that runs along the edge of the state forest property line.  Unfortunately this road is just on the other side of a private property fence, and the owner is very clear about not wanting any trespassers.

Sleeping calfWith that path blocked, I headed back and decided to follow some cattle trails to the north to see if I could find a new route back.  I was glad I did… out in the middle of the field resting in some high grass I saw a small calf.  Momma was in site, but she didn’t seem to concerned about having her baby photographed.Cows guarding the road

So far, on this trip, I only saw a couple of cow in the field.  On the way back though, there were three who were guarding the trail.  As I approached they seemed to be interested in seeing who this stranger was before running off.

This is an interesting area to visit, but be aware that hunting is allowed during season.  If you would like to see the technical details of this hike, or download a GPX file to use as a guide, click on the “Trip Details” link below the map.

More photos are available in the Photo Gallery

Picnic table near trail Lumber in shed Shed building number
Inside storage building Storage building frame Farmstead building number
Inside house Bathroom Back of house
Cow under tree Cattle trail-3 Trailview-5


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