Friday, June 03, 2016

Hiking Lake Louisa SP–Dixie Lake to Lake Louisa

On our second day at the park, we hiked the trails from Lake Dixie to Lake Louisa.  We’re at the time of year where our mantra of “be done by one” holds true, so we got an early start in order to make it back to the starting point by a little after noon.

Big Creek-2
Big Creek Flowing to Lake Louisa

Trailhead kiosk-1The trailhead kiosk is across the road from the picnic area at Dixie Lake – this is a good spot to pick up a trail map.  The trail maps that are printed up for the kiosks are much better than the ones available online, since they show the location of the numbered trail markers.Dark water

Heading west from the trailhead, we arrived at Big Creek after less than half of a mile.  The trail doesn’t lead alongside the creek, but it is close enough that it can be visited with only a small detour.  The creek is flowing slowly today, and it is remarkable just how dark the water looks; it looked more like coffee than tea.

Bridge over creekThis portion of the trail took us to the north for about a half mile before crossing the road that leads to Lake Louisa, and shortly after that a bridge crosses Big Creek.  This portion of the trail is blazed with orange in addition to the numbered trail markers; there are also some blue blazes for spur trails.Dusky pygmy rattler-2

From the bridge, the trail continues for about another half mile under the shade of the forest before coming along side an open field.  Walking along the edge of the forest, Tina almost stepped on this little guy (a Dusky Pygmy Rattler) as he made a dash for the safety of the plants alongside the trail.  He couldn’t have been more than twelve inches long, so we were able to get this photo while maintaining a safe distance.

Boardwalk at nature trail-1The trail skirts the edge of the forest for about a half mile before bringing us back under the canopy of trees, and then another half mile before coming to a boardwalk that leads to the beach parking area.  Along the way, there are some interpretive signs describing the flora and fauna of the area.

The entrance to the beach is down another short boardwalk that goes over a swampy area.  The beach is a nice spot for a swim and a picnic – we were there on a weekday, so we had the whole area (almost) to ourselves.

Lake Louisa Pano
Lake Louisa Beach

During the 2001 drought, when the lake level dropped, remnants of a crashed P-51 Mustang were also found. Flown by First Lieutenant Dean R. Gilmore of Pennsylvania, the plane was lost on a training flight on November 14, 1944. A monument (shown below) has been erected in honor of Lieutenant Gilmore and all aviators.

We made it back to Lake Dixie for a picnic lunch by retracing our steps – we were glad to be “done by one” because the temperature was climbing quickly as the sun moved overhead.  If you would like to see the technical details of this hike, click on the “Trip Details” link on the map below.

Click on a photo for a full size view
(For more photos, take a look at the Photo Gallery)

Dixie Lake Canoe Rental
Dixie Lake Canoe and Kayak Rental
Vulture looking downCypress in the creek
Vulture Watching – Cypress Knees
Big canopy
Big Canopy
Trail view-1Trail view-2
Trail Views
Knees and ferns
Knees and Ferns
ReflectionsSun peeking through
Reflections  -  Sun Peeking Through
Tina on a treeTrees along Dixie Lake
Tina on a Tree – Trees by Dixie Lake
Burn recovery
Recovery after Prescribed Burn
Sand under dark waterMonument at Lake Louisa Beach-2
Patterns Under Water – Beach Monument

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