Wednesday, February 22, 2012

River Trail

We were back on the trail today in Withlacoochee State Forest.  Today’s hike was along the River Trail.  There are several different trails along the Withlacoochee River.  Today’s trail was simply named “River Trail”.
We're seeing this along the roadways.  Don't have a name for it yet.
We started our hike at the Ridge Manor Trailhead which is only about 6 miles from our campground.  It’s the closest trailhead so far of the hikes we’ve done.  This trailhead gets more use from walkers and bicyclists using the Withlacoochee State Trail, a paved rail-trail conversion.  It has a large parking lot able to accommodate dozens of cars. There is a sheltered picnic area as well as an open picnic area under the live oaks.  There is an information kiosk about the paved trail.  It also has my favorite--a restroom.  A quick word about the restrooms.  In Withlacoochee State Forest the restrooms at the trailheads have all been clean, well stocked with tissue, hand soap, and towels, and are of the flush variety, not pit toilets.

To access the River Trail, we walked through the picnic area to an opening in the fence and the beginning of the River Trail.  There is an information kiosk located at the fence for this trail as well as a sign in sheet.  At almost all the trailheads in Withlacoochee State Forest there are sign in sheets.  We always sign in.  Forestry Service likes to keep track of trail usage.  We figure the more names on a sign in sheet the more likely they’ll maintain the trail.

This trail, for the 4 miles or so we hiked, is about 4 feet wide, about as wide as a lawn mower and it had been mowed recently.  We headed east for about a half mile before turning south, but soon turned north and continued north basically paralleling Withlacoochee State Trail and I-75 farther west.  After the trail turned north, we followed Withlacoochee River all the way until we turned around.  The trail continues on for another 3 miles and joins the Silver Lake Trail which we hiked a couple weeks ago.

We were hiking along the west side of the river on State Forest land.  Across the river on the east side the land is privately owned and we saw many fish camps.  These camps included everything from the run down hovel to modest cabins to elaborate homes with wrap-around screened porches.

For our lunch we stopped at the bench at Gator Watch.  We watched for gators, but saw none today.
Yellow wood sorrel
The River Trail is a linear trail.  We went out about 4 miles then turned around to come back.  About 2.5 miles from the trailhead is a junction with the Windmill Trail.  This 2 mile trail roughly parallels the River Trail, but is about a half mile shorter.  We took it for a change of scenery.  This trail leads away from the river and into the forest connecting back with the River Trail about a half mile from the trailhead.
The windmill on the Windmill Trail
We got back home before the rains set in.  Right now, we’re having a thunderstorm with plenty of thunder and lightning and a few strong gusts of wind.  Gene just got soaked trying to lower the awning.  This is drastically different from the 30% chance of isolated showers which was our forecast this morning.  Oh well, Florida needs the rain and a lot of it.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for tagging along.


  1. Nice you got the hike in before the weather changed. We enjoy hiking and hope to do lots when we fulltime. Wendy laughed when you posted earlier about ice cream after a hike as thats always our running joke about a Dairy Queen at the end of the trail.

  2. glad you got the hike done before the bad weather blew in!!..Ice cream at the end is a great idea!..hope the thunder and winds have subsided before it is time to head to bed!!