Monday, February 20, 2012

Van Fleet State Trail

This has been an absolutely glorious day--lots of sunshine, low humidity, slight breeze, and temps in the low 70s.  I just love it.  This would have been a very nice day for hiking, but there were a couple things on our lists that needed to be taken care of today.   Not wanting to miss out on this fabulous day all together, we opted to go for a quick walk this morning instead of a hike.

About 25 miles from our campground is the General James A. Van Fleet State Trail.  This multiuse trail is named in honor of the American combat commander and veteran of WWI, WWII, and the Korean War.  This 29-mile length of paved trail is open to walkers, bicyclists, and in-line skaters.  Horses are allowed to walk along the wide shoulder on either side of the pavement.

There are four parking lots along the length of the trail.  The closest one to us is the Mabel trailhead parking lot.  It’s large with plenty of room for many cars, including a handicapped van parking area, a shelter with a couple picnic tables, and a restroom.  There is even drinking water, which is perhaps more rare at trailheads than restrooms.

The Van Fleet Trail is a rail-trail conversion and is straight as an arrow and flat as a pancake.  The trail description says there is a curve along the trail, but wasn’t in the section we walked today.  We did see one of the historic mile markers.  These markers indicate the distance to Richmond, Virginia, the hub for the railroad line and the home of many of the rail workers.  The northernmost section which we were on is located within the Richloam Wildlife Management Area of the Withlacoochee State Forest.  As the crow flies, it is relatively close to where we hiked on Saturday.
Historic mile marker.
We had in mind to walk for an hour then turn around and head back to the car.  That would give us time to get back home for lunch and have the afternoon to get our other errands run.  As is the case with many paved trails, the milage was painted on the pavement.  We were close to an hour at 2.5 miles.  We decided to turn around at that point making our walk a nice round 5 miles.
At the 1 and 2 mile marks, we came across these resting benches.
We got all the way to our turn around point without seeing anyone else, but on our return trip saw several bicyclists.  One gentleman was kind enough to tell us about the alligator and even road back and dropped a bit of Spanish moss on the trail so we wouldn’t miss the spot.  Across the ditch and tucked into a hole was the mama keeping a watchful eye on junior sunning himself on a rock.  There were several bushes between us, so it was hard to get a clear shot of the two, but I think you can see mama’s head behind junior.  Follow junior’s tail around.  He’s one long alligator, but his body is small compared to mama’s head.  It was all very exciting.

After lunch we were able to get our errands run quickly and efficiently.  Now, we’re ready to sit out and enjoy the rest of this marvelous day.

We want to welcome our latest followers, Ray and Wendy.  They have been RVing for many years in a variety of rigs loving those vacations and weekends away from home.  Now, they’re looking forward to the day when they can hit the road full-time. Welcome, Ray and Wendy.  We’re glad you’re tagging along.

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


  1. Thanks for the warm welcome. We can't wait to be out there hiking and exploring.

  2. If I saw that Mama Alligator with the 2 babies, I'd still be running! Looked like a great hike - except for the gators!!