Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hiking Charles Bronson SF from OWP

Getting an early start for today’s hike, I decided to explore the eastern portion of Charles Bronson State Forest, just north of Orlando Wetlands park (OWP).  Using OWP as a starting point gave me a little bit of flexibility on my trip, which was good since I didn’t pre-map my trail – I simply targeted the general area that I wanted to visit.

Trail view-1
White blazes lead the way out of Orlando Wetlands Park

Soft shell turtleStarting from the parking area, I headed due north through the park.  This early in the morning, the gators could be seen everywhere in the water.  None of them were up on shore though – they seemed to be more comfortable staying cool in the water today.  Other than a lot of water fowl, the only creature that I saw on dry ground was an immature soft-shell turtle.  This little guy wasn’t more than five inches long, but he didn’t seem at all bothered by me looking at him.Crossing stile-1

The first stile crossing leads out of OWP into the state forest about one mile north of the parking area.  From here, the white blazes guide the way… kinda.  Either there are not very many white blazes, or they are disguised since they blend in with lichens on the trees.  Whichever was the case, it wasn’t too long before I lost them.

Trail view-2No worries though – I was more interested in exploring, so I tried to keep my direction generally headed north.  The undergrowth in this part of the forest is relatively sparse as palm trees tend to keep most of the ground in the shade.  Occasionally I would come across an old forest road or a game trail to follow.Web across trail-2

It wasn’t too long before I came across the familiar orange blazes of the Florida Trail.  Here the trail leads to the east and west.  When I hiked the Lake Cone area of Seminole Ranch, I noted that the Florida Trail headed north along the eastern edge of OWP, so I knew where I would end up if I followed the orange blazes to the east.  There were a lot of Golden Orb Weaver webs along the way – I knocked a bunch down, and walked through a bunch more.  Some of them were big enough to see to walk around though. 

I think they mean itAlong the way, trail runs alongside an area that is still private property (it’s about 1/2 mile square).  If the signage is any indication, they seem to be pretty serious about letting people know that they aren’t wanted in that area.

Crossing stile-2Eventually the trail brought me to the first of three more stiles that cross fences along the trail.  At the first one, I expected the trail to make a hard turn to the south, but instead it took more of a southeastern route for about the next mile before coming to the stream that is the outlet for OWP into the St. Johns River.

Clean water flowingIt’s interesting to notice just how clean the water is at this spot – it has been filtered throughout the entire wetlands and it leaves the park looking as clear as water from a spring.

Bridge to OWPI followed the trail along the stream to the west from here for about a third of a mile, where the trail brought me to a bridge that crosses back into the wetlands park. 

The trip back through the park was pretty uneventful.  All of the alligators were out of sight (likely trying to stay cool under the water – the temperature on land was already in the mid 90’s).  I did hear a few alligators making that deep rumbling sound that they use to attract a mate, but I was unable to actually see them doing it. 

Photo Dump
More photos available in the Gallery

Flock on the road
OWP Road North
Trail view-3
Old Grassy Trail
Low bridge
Low Bridge on Florida Trail
Web across trail-1
Web Across Trail
Trail view-4
Trail along Creek
Shells by the creek
Shells by the Creek

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