Take a Hike in the Marshall Swamp

IMG_6034I 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.

IMG_6013And what could be better than ending the day with a tick check?

Bike Trail Land Bridge

IMG_5705.JPGIt’s hard to believe I’d never been to the Land Bridge Trail Head on the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway until last week. Especially since when driving south on I-75, I’ve been saying I want to go out to the Land Bridge since the day it opened. I know that’s been more than 10 years!

IMG_5714.JPGWhile the trail wasn’t paved, a usual requirement, it was hard packed, wide, and shady, with few roots or other obstacles. The round trip ride was relatively short, only about six miles, but it was enjoyable and gave us a preview of what to expect on the other trails in this network.

I even surprised John when I told him I wanted to try the Blue Loop back to the trail head. The Blue Loop’s a single track trail, and that’s not the type of riding I usually like. This turned out to be a good decision. We rode along the narrow trail without a hitch. It had few roots, stumps, rocks, or other obstructions, and I only missed a couple of turns. Now I know that I can ride other moderate difficulty, “blue” trails on the Cross Florida Greenway.

IMG_5821.JPGHaving successfully ridden the single track trail back to the Land Bridge Trail Head, next time we’ll ride the 49th Avenue Trail.

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Riding Close to Home

Less than five miles from home, the Baseline trail head of the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway provides quick and easy access to a recreational area perfect for walking or bike riding when time doesn’t permit an all day adventure. A series of loops connect to give walkers and cyclists five miles of paved trails.

We’ve ridden the Baseline section of the trail a couple of times. It’s a great place to go for a short ride after work since we can load up the bikes and be there in 15 minutes.

The Cross Florida Greenway occupies the land formerly set aside for the Cross Florida Barge Canal, an abandoned project that’s provided a recreational corridor with trails for hikers, equestrians, and paddlers as well as cyclists. Picnic areas, campgrounds, and boat ramps are also enjoyed by users of all ages.

We’ve ridden the Withlacoochee Bay Trail at the western end of the Greenway but much of the remaining trail requires a mountain bike due to the rough terrain so we’ll have to walk the Land Bridge and Marshall Swamp sections. More close to home opportunities to explore another of Florida’s State Parks.