Thursday, June 02, 2016

Hiking Lake Louisa SP–Southwest of campsites

On our first day at this state park, we explored the trails to the south of the campsites; there were several spots that looked interesting from Google Earth that I wanted to check out.  I recommend starting out any hikes in this area by first stopping at one of the marked trailheads and picking up a trail map.  The maps at the kiosks are much better than the ones online, and show the locations of the numbered trail markers along the way.

Passion Flower-1
Passion Fruit vines are growing in abundance here

Starting from the campsite, we followed the road to the first trail entrance to the west of Hammond Lake.  The trail heads due south for about 150 yards before coming to the first trail marker.  The trail markers in this part of the park have a silhouette of a horseback rider, which I believe means that it is okay for horses back here.  There were other markers in the northern part of the park that had a silhouette of a backpacker.

Crop circles-2

When I was looking at the area with Google Earth, the first thing that I noticed was that there were several circular formations just south of the campgrounds.  They were too regular to be natural, so of course, I was jokingly calling them “crop circles”.  We discovered that these are areas where brush / plants have been piled and burned.  Grassy flowers-1

The ground around these spots seems to be mowed or cleared regularly… I’m not entirely sure why, but  some of them are growing bushes so maybe it has something to do with the restoration of the area.’'

Fenced area-1All through the open fields, the wild flowers are in bloom.  Purple and yellow feathery flowers, white flowers with small spiral buds, cactus flowers, and passion flowers were in bloom all along our hike.

As we passed by trail marker #45 and headed to the west, we noticed a fence at the top of a small hill.  We could see a marker of some sort from the trail, so we went up to take a look.  As you can see from the photo, it clearly describes why the area is fenced off.Cactus flowers-4

About this time, we could see a storm brewing on the horizon, but we still had time to look around before it got to us so we continued on to what appeared to be (from Google Earth) a bulldozed ramp next to a sinkhole.  At the bottom of the sinkhole, we could see water and hear something splashing around, but there was no way to see what it was.  It was a little too steep with too much vegetation to climb down for a look, so we continued along to our next destination.

Island mote-2The next spot that had caught my eye was what looked like a giant letter “Q” that had been carved into the land and filled with water.  The area of this mote and island is a little over 100 yards in diameter, and even when standing next to it we couldn’t figure out why it was made.  We later asked the park rangers and they told us that it is an artifact of the orange grove that used to be here.  They told us that it is not uncommon for farmers to dredge out spots like this to allow them to fill with water, and also build up the marshy ground around them so it can support planting more orange trees.

By this time, thunder let us know that the storm was getting closer so it was time to head back to the campsite before the rain arrived.  We took the more direct route by retracing our steps – along the way a deer leapt across the trail right in front of us. 

Of the two hikes that we made this weekend, I think this one was my favorite.  There wasn’t much shade along the way, but there was a lot to see in a short space of time.  If you would like to see the technical details of this trip, click on the “trip details” link below the map.

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

Road to campsites
Campground Road
Trail markers-2White flowers
Trail Marker   -   White Flowers
Grasshopper and Twigs
Grass and cloudsPassion fruit
Grass and Sky  -  Passion Fruit
3 color pine
Three Color Pine

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