Florida Keys

Florida Keys
Florida Keys September 2014

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A few easy Sunday morning hikes

Location: Gainesville, Fl
GPS Coordinates: 29.655667, -82.276076
Date: 2/24/20136076
It was Sunday morning and we wanted to find a local hike that was new to us or had been awhile since we had done. We decided to try the Morningside Nature Center which is a city park run by the city of Gainesville. Morningside also has a “living history farm” that depicts farming life from the mid to late 1800’s. We used to go here often when our kids were younger as they enjoyed checking out the animals and the old farm house. Unfortunately, the farm is only open on Saturday during the weekend, so we were not able to walk around the farm. This park does have several miles of hiking trails through pine woods, and cypress swamps with several sections being newly rebuilt boardwalks that traverse through the wetlands.
Here is a birding blind. Unfortunately we didn’t see any birds as we passed by this location. Morningside park is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail.
One of the boardwalks on the hiking trail
This small guys was very busy trying to make a new home in the dead tree. He didn’t seem to mind us walking by.
A pileated woodpecker was flying from tree to tree
One of the grass huts behind the educational building at the park,
This guy was living behind the educational building. I think he was looking for a food handout as we walked by.
Here is the track of the trails we walked at this park
Morningside Nature Center Hike at EveryTrail

Since the hike at Morningside was fairly short, we decided to also drive up the road a few miles to the Gum Root Swamp hiking trail. This is also a park run by the city of Gainesville. We did a short one mile loop, but missed the section that runs another mile or so further north. The trail was not marked very good at the north section, so we didn’t realize that there was more to hike until we got back to our car. Gum root swamp park is part of a larger section of land that has been set aside as the Newnan’s Lake Conversation Area. Newnan’s lake is a body of water east of the area we hiked and it good size lake, but very shallow.
There was a small river running from the swampland that makes up a part of this park.
Near one of the ponds that the trails runs by, Julie found this snake hanging out in the leaves and pine needles. I don’t know my snakes, so don’t know what kind of snakes this is.
A small wooded pond within the park.

Here is the track of this short hike we did,
Gum root swamp hike at EveryTrail

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ichetucknee River Kayak Trip

Location: Five miles North West of Fort White, Fl
GPS Coordinates: 29.954748, -82.784587
Date: 2/18/2013
With Monday being a holiday (Presidents day), Julie had the day off and a three day weekend. We had originally hoped to use the long weekend to get some camping in somewhere, but we didn’t start looking in time and all the Florida State Parks campgrounds were full. Someday we’ll learn to plan further ahead when trying to make camping reservations in the winter. It may have been a good things as we had a “cold” spell with the lows in the low thirties on Saturday night and high twenties on Sunday night. Definitely a little chilly for a couple of Floridians.
Since I had decided to take the day off also (not a holiday for me) we really wanted to get outside and do something. We’ve looked at kayaking the Ichetucknee River a few times in the past, but our timing was never good as this is primarily a tubing river in the warmer months, but in the winter tubing is closed down which makes for a good time to try this river. We drove the 45 minutes from Gainesville, through the booming town of Fort White and onto the south entrance to the Ichetucknee Springs State park.
We only had one vehicle, so we had decided to go ahead and paddle up river to the spring head (North Entrance of the park) and then float/paddle back down to where we had originally put in. I was thinking that we could put in at the South entrance, but that was wrong. We actually had to travel a half mile west past the entrance to the “Last take out” location. Here there is a parking lot with a short dirt road down to the river. You can unload your kayaks and gear here and carry them the last 50 yards to the river. This is a great place to launch the kayaks as they have a set of docks that makes it very easy to enter and exit your kayak or canoe.
We hadn’t been kayaking much lately, so going against the current gave us a good workout. We only saw one other guy in a canoe attempting the paddle up, flow back way of doing this trip. The flow of the river was about 1.4 – 2.4 mph, so although we found it challenging, it definitely was doable and we made it to the head of the river without too much effort. We did see about 4-5 other canoes making the trip down, so it was a very quiet day on the river, From the “last take out point” to the spring at the head of the river is 3.08 miles making it about a 6+ mile round trip.
While on the river we saw some wild turkey, a few deer, and one playful otter that didn’t seem at all afraid of us. I never got my camera out to take a picture as I figured that he would just bolt as soon as I did. But he just kept rolling in the grass and mud and we passed. Of course he was nowhere to be seen when we floated back down and I had my camera ready. That’s always the way! There were also a ton of birds along the entire trip, but especially near the northern section in a quarter mile section where the river widened and there was lots of sunlight.
The entire run of the Ichetucknee river is clear spring water which makes for some very nice paddling. There are many springs along the length of the river, unfortunately several of the springs are fenced off or posted as off limits.  I’m guessing this is due to the thousands of tubers that are on the river during the summer. It’s too bad that you can’t paddle over many of these springs.
The southern entrance to the park. You go a half mile past this sign to put in your kayak or canoe.
The area to launch at the “last take out” location
Boardwalk on a trail at the northern entrance of the Ichetucknee State Park
The head spring of the Ichetucknee River
Dock area at the head spring
Julie ducking under a fallen tree. This was the only tree that you had to deal with while kayaking
Some areas along the river have some interesting limestone outcroppings
Julie looking down into one of the springs that is accessible while paddling this river
Many cypress knees on one of the spring runs
Required turtle picture for any trip taken on a Florida river
Here is the link to the Picasa album with all the pictures from the trip.
Here is the GPS track of our trip on the Ichetucknee River
Ichetucknee River Kayak Trip at EveryTrail

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Barr Hammock Preserve

Location: Gainesville, Fl
GPS Coordinates: 29.516146, –82.307258
Date: 02/10/13
Today we decided to walk the Levy Loop trail at the Barr Hammock Preserve. This is an area that just opened to the public for hiking after being acquired by the Alachua County Forever land conservation program. Currently the hiking trails follow a series of dikes that were built years ago to help drain the land for agricultural use. The conservation program is working on returning this land to its’ natural state and to re-establish the flow of water into the prairie. More trails are planned for the future, but the trail now open is a 6.5 mile loop around the Levy Prairie.
Here is a link to the flyer that describes the hike.



Here is the GPS track of the hike:
Barr Hammock Preserve - Levy Loop Trail at EveryTrail