I guess I should have expected to slog through mud. After all, swamp is clearly written on the sign marking the Marshall Swamp Trail, but I didn’t expect to return from the hike with soaked shoes and socks and wet jeans.
The information we’d read about the Marshall Swamp Trail section of the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway mentions that portions can sometimes be wet and muddy, especially in the wet season, but since boardwalks have been built over the wettest parts of the trail, I didn’t expect to squish through so many puddles in January.
Of course, we hiked the trail two days after a twelve hour downpour. Maybe that was the problem. Even with the wet conditions, the 6 mile round trip hike from the 67th Avenue Trailhead to Marshall Swamp Trailhead was a great walk through a wild part of Marion County.
An abundance of signs made it easy to follow the trail even through an area with a tree blocking a portion of the path.
Clear blue skies on a cool winter day made for perfect conditions for a hike through areas of pines, palms, and cypress trees. However, I’m not sure this is a place to trek in warmer weather. What with heat, humidity, and mosquitoes, it sounds like the perfect combination to make for a miserable day. Since we swatted a few of the pesky insects in January. What would it be like in July?
It’s not necessary to travel a great distance to spend the day as a spelunker. The Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna offers guided tours to visitors providing up close encounters with stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, and other limestone formations created by tens of thousands of years of weathering.
Small groups explore the cave in tours lasting about 45 minutes. Led by volunteers, the guides explain both the history and the geology of the caverns.
Florida Caverns State Park
But the park offers more. Created in the 1930’s as a CCC project, the park’s visitor center houses exhibits on the formation of the cavern, the bats it inhabits, as well as the park’s history.
Hikers, bicyclists, and horseback riders enjoy a variety of trails as a way to take in the scenery of the park. Don’t miss the Tunnel Trail, but make sure you watch your head as you waddle through the Tunnel Cave!
Other activities available at the park: fishing, camping, canoeing, kayaking, and boating. And believe it or not, the park also has a 9-hole golf course!
Somehow, I missed the Geo-seeking activity. From the park’s website:
The Florida State Parks Civilian Conservation Corps Geotrail is now at www.Geocaching.com. Nine parks were built by the CCC and Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. Search for all nine caches and end at the CCC Museum at Highlands Hammock State Park and receive a commemorative geocoin.
Looks like we’ll need a return trip so I can earn that geocoin!
I’ve been a regular at Carney Island, a Marion County Park, since the boat ramps opened several years ago. In fact, Carney Island is the reason we purchase an annual pass to the Marion County Parks each year; but this week marks the first time I’ve visited the park for any other reason than to use the boat ramp to launch a boat. I know that ramp well and complain about the difficulty of seeing the boat as I back down such a steep ramp…a ramp we use more than a dozen times each year.
This week when we entered the park, we bypassed the boat ramp and parked in the area designated for picnic, playground, beach and trail use. John and I hiked one of the three trails at Carney Island, the 3.2 mile Fox Trot Loop on the peninsula. On the farthest point of the loop you can view Lake Weir although lake access is not available from the trail.
We spotted numerous deer tracks along the trail, but early afternoon isn’t prime time for spotting wildlife. We were pleasantly surprised to encounter wild turkey at two points along the trail. We need to schedule an early morning or late afternoon walk in the near future for better wildlife photo opportunities.