Florida Keys

Florida Keys
Florida Keys September 2014

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A hike at Paynes Prairie State Preserve–Chacala Trail

Location: Gainesville, Fl
GPS Coordinates: 29.526762, -82.287387
Date: 01/28/13

We wanted to find a hike somewhere near our home that we had not done before. Looking at Google maps, I noticed a Wikiloc icon within the Paynes Prairie park showing a hike that looked interesting. We did the 20 minute drive to the park and found the trail head at the horse trail area about a mile down the main park road. The Chacala trail is about a 6 mile loop that takes you through “several distinct biological communities including pine flatwoods, hardwood forest or hammock, baygall, open ponds and old fields” (borrowed from the park website!!).  We found this trail to be very enjoyable as it was wide enough for two to walk side by side and the trail had many different looks to it as it made its’ way around many ponds. Around these wet areas, the bird population definitely picked up in activity. At a little more than half way on the hike there is a short side spur that takes you to Chacala Lake (pond). This was a nice quiet lake with what looks like one house on the far side. There was not other signs of development. Whoever owned that one piece of property sure had a great location!!

A sign at the trail head showing the track of the hike
The hike was well marked and easy to follow
Chacala Pond
Chacala Pond with the one house on the far bank

Here is the GPS track of the hike

Paynes Prairie - Chacala Trail at EveryTrail

Friday, January 18, 2013

Another camping trip to Ocean Pond Campground

Date: 1/18/13 – 1/20/13
Location: Osceola National Forest (Near Lake City, Florida)
GPS Coordinates: 30.239501, -82.436620
Campsite number: 31
This has been our third trip to Ocean Pond campground in the Osceola Nation Forest since we’ve bought our trailer. We arrived Friday evening after leaving work and driving the 90 minute trip to the campground. We were lucky enough to find an open spot on the water, but all the electrical spots were taken, This was ok as we like the sites without electricity better than the ones with power. On Saturday we drove around the Big Gum Swap wilderness area and came across the West Tower campground. This is one of the trailheads to the Florida Trail, so we decided to do a hike, In the afternoon, after resting at camp awhile, we did some kayaking on Ocean Pond. The weather was amazing, cool and clear. Not too cold and not too hot!!
Sunday we did another short hike on the Florida trail starting at the Turkey Run trailhead which is a short drive from the campground. Even though it was a three day weekend, we decided to only camp for two days. Before we packed up and left, we did some more kayaking on Ocean Pond heading down to Hog Pen campground and then back. Nothing too strenuous!! 
Since I’ve reviewed this campground previously, I won’t bother doing it again. Here’s the link to the previous review.
Yep, we are in the boonies. A sign we saw as we were driving around the the Gum Swamp Wilderness area
West Tower Campground
Florida Hiking Trail trailhead
Boardwalk along the Florida Trail
Florida Trail through the pine forest
Spot # 31 at Ocean Pond
Kayaking by ocean Ponds beach and playground area
Julie kayaking in the weeds!
Julie at a Florida Trail Shelter
Some wild animal we encountered while walking the trail!!
Our hike on the Florida Trail starting at West Tower trailhead
Florida Trail starting at West Tower Campground trailhead at EveryTrail
Our hike on the Florida Trail starting at the Turkey Run trailhead
Florida Trail starting at Turkey Run trailhead at EveryTrail
Kayaking Ocean Pond
Kayaking Ocean Pond at EveryTrail