|Lake Apopka Trailhead Kiosk|
|Lake Apopka, large and looming along your left as you bicycle west.|
|Crushed cement and gravel trail surface|
|Anhingas resting on poles and posts along the water|
|Reeds in close and grasses out far along the shoreline|
|Old steel supports, well-marked, but be careful bicycling!|
|Osprey waiting for lunch|
The problem was that the pesticides and nutrients added to the muck to nourish and protect the food washed back into Lake Apopka with each man-made flood. Lake Apopka is the head waters for the Ocklawaha River system which feeds into the St. John river and out to the sea at Jacksonville. Contaminates and high levels of nutrients killed the trophy bass fishing businesses on Lake Apopka and ran downstream through the Lake Harris chain to kill fish, birds and wildlife in the St. John river. This river is also where a lot of Florida's community drinking water comes from, hence the reason for the farmland restoration.
Presently you come to the historic pump house. It's 3 kerosene pumps are still in place along with huge rusted pipes. There is a new picnic shelter there with 2 tables, trail brochures and lots to look at both water-side and trail-side. A raised path has been built around the lake side of the block pump house, and there is a portable toilet on the west side by the ponds and canals.
|Along the windy lake shore|
|Historic Pump House|
|Farming culture kiosk|
|Looking east past the new picnic shelter|
About 3 miles further west, you turn inland along a canal, then turn left twice quickly to return back to the shoreline, inside of a line of trees. Another mile brings you to a picnic table at 8.7 miles, which was my lunch stop and turn around for today. I believe this is my first-ever stop in a 'new' picnic shelter along a trail that had no trash, no grafitti spray painted anywhere, and had nothing broken. Even the picnic tables have no carvings in them. Please, let's keep it this way!
It overlooks a couple of canals and miles and miles of flat land. Ducks paddled about, hawks and buzzards lofted above, and it was very peaceful. A Bald Eagle perched on an old power line pole along the way back, then took to the sky with a mate. I saw a Red-tailed Hawk swooping low along the old fields. A Blue Heron repeatedly flew a few yards in front of me, then flew again to another branch. Great Egrets flew in the winds above with an occasional Swallow-tailed Kite.
|Nice, new covered picnic area, my bicycle, and more canals|
|Low and flat farmlands, marsh and more canals|
|A sign at the picnic shelter & others posted along the trail each half mile|
|Well signed trail|
|Note there are 2 Ospreys and one Red-winged Blackbird sharing a tree|
|Do Not Feed Alligator signs are everywhere|
|Alligator eyeing ducks|
|Look closely, alligator swimming|
|Beside the trail, keep 15 feet or more away!|
There is not much, if any at all, shade along this trail, so wear sunscreen and drink lots of water. Fill up your water bottles at home or at Lake Magnolia Park, there is no drinking water available once you are on the trail. I drank 2 water bottles on a 3 hour trip in cool, cloudy, windy weather, bring more when it is sunny.
|A Bald Eagle waiting for it's mate on an old power pole.|
|Nearing Magnolia Park on the return ride, and trees are a welcome relief from the wind|
There was really only silence to replace the sounds of farming that once rang out here daily. I like how things have changed.