Being a Florida-based outdoors-person/backpacker can make it difficult to create interesting mountain-hiking stories. The need to exit the state just to hike in mountains is the worst part. Complaining aside, there are many wonderful areas around the state where the outdoors is just so awfully beautiful. When I do get out, it is usually for a morning walk along an urban rail trail, or a half-day hike/bike ride in the great flat outdoors.
This is my half-day trip in mid-April and it is local. I just headed East on I-4 from Orlando, then west at Sanford on Highway 46 and turned right on the first road past the Wekiva River bridge to get to the Seminole State Forest. Nice and close.
I had been here as a Boy Scout leader with our troop twice, backpacking in from the West and leaving at the North entrance on Highway 44. We had camped at a large group campsite with 20+ boys each time and enjoyed the trails in area, worked on merit badges and rank advancement. If you are interested in group camping here, call the Ranger's office.
Just after this the trail crossed a small stream on a bridge and turned uphill. The ground cover was lighter here than the first half mile. We soon came to the shelter. This is just a plain and open shelter with a fire ring and table out front. The shelter has an open front and there is no water or facilities nearby. The land is open and grassy here with lots of room for tents. This shelter is for the Florida Trail hikers use.
Of course it was hot and clear. I kept my long sleeve shirt on and started sweating in the sun. We kept to the trail and crossed a few sand roads. We are in the land of Scrub Jays and watched them flit in and out of the bushes. Some shrub was close, but the trail crews had done a fine job in keeping the rest of the trail clear. After a while we crossed the park road and went into a little shade (thanks woods). But then we came out of that, turned left and went back onto the dirt road, and followed the road North. The road was dusty and hot with some shade. We followed the road down to the cement bridge with no guardrails and crossed Blackwater Creek.
We didn't see anyone, except the ranger driving by. I had expected to see hikers but did not on this trip. We got back to the cars without any issues and drove to eat near the mall nearby. We had hiked about 8 miles (not bad for Walt's surgically-altered knees) and were more than halfway across the forest at the creek. In another post I'll talk about hiking from the other side to Blackwater creek.