Unfortunately, due to illness, I was unable to accompany John on a first time ride at the Sawgrass Island Preserve last week. We’ve passed this trail numerous times on our trips to visit one of our daughters in Orlando, but only recently stopped to get a quick look in anticipation of a ride later in the week.
In the parking area, a sign indicates the trail can be used by hikers, cyclists and horseback riders. The trail travels to Lake Yale, located south of SR 42 about ten miles from Weirsdale, and according to John is well used by those on horseback making in less than a desirable surface for bike riding.
Nevertheless, he said he would return to Sawgrass Island Preserve on foot, especially near dawn or sunset as it appears to be a prime location for observing wildlife. And of course, since the area is also part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, birdwatchers may also enjoy hiking in the trail.
Sorry I missed the ride, but I can see an early morning hike on the horizon.
We started last week with another daycation. This time to Wekiwa Springs State Park.
Upon entering the park, we received a list of twenty-five ways to enjoy Wekiwa. Of course, we started at the spring and were a little surprised to find several people swimming on a cool January morning.
A short walk on the “wet-to-dry” nature boardwalk, (number 9) on the list was the next order of business.
We then checked out the trail map and selected one to hike (number 2) and saw more than a few deer tracks on the trail (number 19).
On such a beautiful, cloudless morning, there was no doubt we’d take lots of photographs (number 15). And since a controlled burn was in progress, it was no problem finding evidence of recently burned areas (number 21).
Before leaving the park, we ate a picnic lunch (number 7) at one of the pavilions, making it easy to leave our stresses behind and relax (number 25).
Seven of the Top 25 Things To Do at Wekiwa Springs State Park, only 18 to go! We also took a selfie, something not on the park’s list.
Daycation: Wekiwa Springs State Park
Nobody would ever all me a triathlete. I don’t run. I don’t swim. And I ride a bike so slowly it takes excellent balance to stay upright.
However, after completing the Tamiami Triathlon last year (a real event sponsored by the National Park Service), we decided to make a triathlon an annual event. The three events in the Everglades, completed over the course of two days, included a hike through the swamp, a paddle across the bay, and a bike ride on a paved trail in Shark Valley so we decided to create our own set of similar events at one of Florida’s state parks.
After looking at several options, we decided to make this a one day event right in our backyard at Silver Springs State Park. We started with a bike ride on the Ross Trail through the Silver River portion of the park. Upon our return, I noticed the sign that indicated the trail was for advanced riders and since I returned alive, I guess I can now consider myself an advanced mountain biker.
Before embarking on phase two, we ate lunch on the picnic tables in the grassy area by the museum, and then rode our bikes on the path along CR35 to the entrance of Silver Springs on SR40.
We rented a two person kayak from the rental concession and paddled to the Silver River and then up to the springs. The path took us by several of the attractions from the old park..an Indian village, a fort, and the jungle cruise, and of course, there were plenty of turtles, gators, and birds along our leisurely path.
Finally, for the hike, we biked back to the Silver River entrance and hiked along the Sinkhole Trail…not the best marked trail, but a nice walk and a good way to end the day.
We began at 11:30 Sunday morning and completed the Silver River Triathlon by 4:30 that afternoon. Another Triathlon in the books and looking forward to next year’s event.
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?
We’ll definitely be returning to the Marshall Swamp Trail before the weather warms up.
And what could be better than ending the day with a tick check?
Myakka River State Park, located nine miles east of Sarasota, provides boating, birding, camping, hiking, and bicycling opportunities for visitors.
At over 58 square miles, Myakka River State Park is one of the largest state parks and the river is designated as a Florida Wild and Scenic River.
Famous for birding, nearly 100 species are listed on the park’s bird list and on the day we visited, a Myakka Bird Volunteer stationed at the Birdwalk set up scopes and helped visitors with identification. These “What’s That Bird?” programs occur daily from 9:00-1:00.
Myaaka State Park
In addition to the self-guided walking trails (there are 39 miles available), there’s the “Walk on the Wild Side”, a guided 5 mile walk available every Friday and five hour “Photography Adventures” can be scheduled with Dick Pfaff, an expert on the wildlife in the park.
The highlight of our trip was the “Walk Through the Treetops” where we climbed a 74 foot tower for a view of the hammocks and wetlands usually only seen by birds.
Kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and an airboat tour are on the agenda for another day as well as a camping trip. Maybe a long weekend this fall at Myakka River State Park?