|The Senator Today|
My family and I have been to Big Tree Park a number of times and we miss being able to see the Big tree. The Florida National Scenic Trail goes right by it on the Cross Seminole hike/bike trail, and I have bicycled right past it dozens of times. Next to the Senator is another large and very old cypress tree, Lady Liberty, growing at 2000 years young. As a result of the arson, the park is now closed.
Park in the shade along the entrance road in Spring Hammock Preserve, and get a map from the porch of the Environmental Services Center. Then walk north along the road to the cul-de-sac in a power line easement where the Florida Trail/Cross Seminole bicycle trail runs. Go in beside the gate and follow the gravel Osprey Trail into the shade. This trail/road leads to the education areas of the hammock, where fifth graders are treated to the famous shoe-sucking mud-walk. Elementary school through high school age children are taught about nature here in classes throughout the school year.
Go back to the Osprey Trail and continue right, passing some trails to the left and a shelter (good for rain). The trail is marked every 100 meters with a sign and the next one you turn at is 1000 meters. Turn right onto the boardwalk and follow a few feet until you see benches to sit on. I suggest sitting first so you don"t topple over backwards while looking up. This cypress tree is estimated to be 2500 years old and it is huge! It is 60 feet or more to the first limb and the tree has a large girth with a cavity above. The different benches allow you to see more of the tree through the lower branches.
|2500 Years Old|
Go back along the boardwalk the way you came, maybe sitting for a few more minutes beside the first tree again. It has been here since 500 years before the common era began and survived being cut for lumber during the cypress timber rush of our century.
Back onto Osprey Trail, going right again takes you from the mixed hardwood hammock into the hydric hammock past Question Pond, a natural sulfur spring. Its light green color contrasts with the tannin color of the stream water near it. Around 1500 meters look for a large cypress stump on the right, and at 1600 meters look for a large cypress tree on the left with a hollow at its base.
|Trees Growing Out Of A Cypress|
The first cypress tree is adjacent to the right of the boardwalk and has both a full size palm tree and an Elm or Gum tree growing from different sides of the base. This 2000 year old tree has another 1000 year old tree growing right across from it on the left side of the deck.
A line of cypress trees lives here, a few are of the 1000 years old age group. Think about all that has happened in our world since 1000 CE! Way back in the woods to the left side you can see glimpses of a huge white trunk, maybe another 2000 year old tree?
Dark birds circle aloft when I get to the end of the boardwalk with a view of Lake Jesup. Today it is windy and clear.
There is an Ibis in a tree by the road when I return, watching some food in the water below. And it is a quiet walk back to the car. If you are up to it, check out the boardwalks and trails to the right of the road. There are some orange trees there mixed in with the palm trees and one very large pine tree.