Saturday, February 25, 2012

River Trail, Part Two

We were back on the trail again this morning.  Today, we put a couple of trails together and came up with a 4-mile (one way) hike which included the northern end of the River Trail.

Last Wednesday we hiked most of the River Trail beginning at the southern end.  We hiked north along the river to a point we were guessing was about 4 miles from the trailhead.  That left about a mile of the River Trail that we didn’t do.  After we got home and spent some time with the maps, we discovered that we could park the car at a point where the Florida Trail crosses the road and hike south to connect with the Silver Lake Trail, then use a connector trail to reach the northern end of the River Trail after about 3 miles.  With the mile of the River Trail that’d make 4 miles one way, 8 for the day--perfect.
I-75 overpass.  You can see how low the water is.

Silver Lake
We finally got to see Silver Lake today.  Even the Silver Lake Loop trail which we hiked a couple weeks ago doesn’t get close enough to the Lake to see it from the trail.  Today, we passed under the I-75 overpass and found ourselves right at the lake.  The trail skirted the lake for about a half mile.  Lucky for us the water level is very low so we got to walk through the swampy area on dry ground.
Swamp just at the edge of the lake
Near the lake are a couple of campgrounds.  We saw a few campers on the trail in this area.  Once we got past the lake and the campground zone all was quiet again.

All the trails we hiked today were well maintained. The connector trail south of the campgrounds all the way to and including the mile of the River Trail was an old road bed.  At one point, with the old fence posts and the live oaks overhanging the trail, it looked a lot like a country lane.

When we reached the point on the River Trail where we had stopped on Wednesday, we sat again on the bench for a short rest.  Shortly after putting our packs back on and heading toward the car, we noticed a little lady rushing toward us.  This was a little surprising since we’ve seen so few people on the trails.
Withlacoochee River
As she approached, she slowed down and stopped to speak.  She was wearing a t-shirt with something about Appalachian on it, so we asked if it was a reference to the Appalachian Trail.  It turned out that this little lady, who looked to be in her mid 70s, was Nitro, an Appalachian Trail section hiker.  She is planning to do a 150 miles in Virginia this spring and will then have completed everything from the southern terminus at Springer Mountain in Georgia to Connecticut.  We enjoyed chatting with Nitro, but she was in a hurry to be on her way.  Training, I guess.

Of all the trail we’ve hiked in central Florida, our hike today was my favorite.  We had a woods walk, a short stretch by the lake and through the swamp, and about a mile along the river.  There were cypress, live oaks, saw palmetto, and longleaf pine.  The trail was mostly in the shade, as well.  That is so much more pleasant.

Gene was sporting his new red shirt today.  More about that tomorrow.

That’s all for now.  Thanks for tagging along.

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