Friday, September 09, 2016

Hiking Bolen’s Bluff–Payne’s Prairie Preserve

Bolen’s Bluff is about 3.5 miles northwest of the main entrance to Payne’s Prairie Preserve on Rt. 441.  The trail map says that this is a 2.5 mile round trip, but I measured it closer to 3.5 miles.

Shaded bench
Rest area just before trail to overlook

TrailheadAt the trailhead, there are two kiosks – one with a map of the prairie, and a historical map describing the DeSoto Trail where Hernando de Soto traveled through this area back in 1539; it’s an interesting history

Trail view-2The Bolen’s Bluff trail starts by leading into the woods for about 800 feet before splitting at the start of a balloon loop.  We took the left fork by continuing to travel to the northeast.  About 500 feet after the fork, the trail turns to the east and eventually comes upon a small branch that leads downhill to the north.  This branch must be an older trail; it dead-ends at the edge of the prairie with a wall of plants.  We did see a few deer down in this portion, which was nice.

Trail view-3The trail continues by winding to the east before coming upon a small clearing with a covered rest area (the picture above).  Along the way, the size of the oak trees is an feature of the preserve that continues to amaze.  Beyond the clearing, the trail turns to the north where it goes down a small hill and leads to the prairie. Vultures waiting at overlook

After leaving the trees, the trail continues on for a little more than half a mile through a “hallway” of wetlands plants, grasses and flowers before arriving at an overlook platform.  The only sound to be heard along the trail was the buzzing of honey bees and the worked from flower to flower.

Vultures waitingAs we approached the overlook, we were happy to find that the vultures that were hanging out there weren’t guarding a meal… they were just enjoying the morning like we were.Wild horses-5

From the top of the overlook, we had a great view of the prairie, and even spotted some of the wild horses that call the prairie home;  there were several more than we saw on you trip to La Chua trail yesterday.  We watched the horses for a bit, and enjoyed the cool breeze for a bit before finally heading back.

On our trip back, we took the southern portion of the balloon, and passed by one spot that had fences on both sides of the trail for about 10 or 15 feet.  There really wasn’t any indication of why those fences were there, but I suspect that there might have been something crossing the trail at that spot, and they were intended to keep people of the official path.

This is a nice short hike, and the observation platform at the end is a great spot to spend a little time enjoying the view.  Learning a little about the history of the area is an added bonus.

Photo Gallery
(More photos are available on our Panoramio page)

Desoto trail
DeSoto Trail
Wild horses-4
Wild Horses
Tina by fences
Why are these fences here?
Andy on the overlook
Andy on the overlook
Nice web
Beautiful web
Purple flowers
Flowers on the trail

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