Thursday, January 26, 2012

Withlacoochee River Park Hike

When planning for our hike today, we looked at the map for a trail near water thinking that would give us a change in scenery from our other hikes.  We were also hoping for the possibility of seeing some birds like egrets or herons.  We found a 5.2 mile loop trail at Withlacoochee River Park, a county park near Dade City.  We were not disappointed.  Tony and Diana went along to keep us company.
Canoe Launch
Our trailhead was located just after the park entrance at the canoe launch.  There is a large parking lot and picnic shelter, but no restrooms.  The restrooms are a half mile or so on down the main park road at the next picnic shelter and play ground.  There is a $2 per car day use fee for this park.

After pulling on boots and packs we walked over to the canoe launch for our first good look at the Withlacoochee River.  The entire trail was relatively close to the river even though it was out of sight most of the time.  We saw more hardwoods today than on previous hikes and there was plenty of saw palmettos.  We saw a few egrets, but they were far, far down river from our vantage point.
Hiking around the prairie.

The hike started at the canoe launch and followed close to the river for about a half mile before veering around a large area of prairie.  As we turned back toward the river, we passed through an area of live oak.  After 1.5 miles we came to the beginning of the loop.  We hiked in a counter clockwise direction today because our trail description was written for that direction.  Since the trail is basically flat, direction shouldn’t make a difference in difficulty, but it was nice to be back at the river for the second half of the loop.  It offered nice spots for breaks.
The hawk was very far away.
About halfway around the loop we came to a backcountry camp site.  The site was large and mostly level with a fire ring and a picnic table.  I didn’t see a privy.  It was a good place to camp except for the fact that there was no water other than the river which was more than a half mile away for the camp. Of course, the camp is only about 3 miles from the car, not so far that you couldn’t bring your water with you.

The second half of the loop is through the Green Swamp.  With the drought conditions in Florida right now, the swamp is completely dry.  Because it is so dry, we weren’t plagued by mosquitoes like the trail description said we would be.  Thank goodness for that.

We saw some wildlife today.  In the bird category there were egrets, a hawk, and a vulture, plus many, many small songbirds.  We saw three deer and a tiny frog.

It was a good hike and a fine day was had by all.  We worked up an appetite, though.  Diana was the first one to say, “ice cream”.  In Dade City we found this fantastic little ice cream place.  They served both hard and soft ice cream.  We’ve now decided that we’ll plan all our hikes based on the nearest ice cream stand.
Gene and Diana placing their orders at Twistee Treats
That’s it for today.  Thanks for tagging along.

1 comment:

  1. I wish I had ordered the milk shake, or maybe a chocolate malt.