Typical view [?]
NOTE: But not if it's unmaintained.
NOTE: Only because not maintained
NOTE: Great if it's maintained
NOTE: Missing signs or fallen down. Trails like the Winchester house.
LOCATION: Accuracy: Read me
On Big Map: Click map (or on google maps). Address: 9950 SE Co Rd 337, Dunnellon, FL, Levy, USA, 34431
5 CLOSEST (Map)
1) What It's Like
Can be a really great place but there's a lot of ways your day could be ruined or you could get hurt.
Pros first: It's a beautiful forest trail. It varies between types of forest and it's full of wildlife. The actual pond impressive if it isn't dry (was 6/2017).
Cons: The signs and maintenance are the worst we've ever seen - ticks because very high brush are a danger (I caught something from one I missed) and it's so easy to lose the trail altogether you could get lost. So bring a GPS and be ready for possible disappointment.
At the time I remember joking that we didn't see anything in the name: Bucks, an Island, or a Pond
2) Kinds of Birds
Saw quite a few hawks here fairly close up. Also mixed flocks of forest birds. The pond I'm sure has ducks etc but it was dried up when we were there and it wasn't really the season for it to dry up so beware.
Lot of deer and raccoon tracks, we had a large florida cottonmouth on the trail that had zero interest in moving, misc snakes, odd spiders - just random things.
Tick friendly landscaping, parking, unreliable signs, mystery boardwalks in the middle of the forest that go nowhere.
The trail starts immediately to the right side of the boardwalk trail - as in follow along boardwalk on the ground and it turns right. Turn around if it looks overgrown would be my advice.
6) Dear Ranger
A sincere compliment first - Nice wilderness - thanks for preserving it.
Now where to start?
I think you win the prize of most harmful and worst maintained trail in our 200+ trails so far.
First - if you don't have the budget to maintain a trail in the summer - I'd get that. But I think - as a human being - you're required to at least slap a piece of paper on the trail head and website that says so - so people don't get in there before they realize the trail is just a story of days gone past. Something like "WARNING - Trail not maintained in summer - be sure to have GPS and be tick aware" - something like that.
The state of the trail signs and maintenance were astoundingly bad.
First the sign that shows that secret entrance to the trail was hidden with a shrub. It must have taken awhile for it to get that big.
Then on the trail it started out ok then the grass got taller, then the brush taller, then there were large trees across the trail (no recent hurricanes). It was such a mess that made itself known slowly so we both got ticks. You don't usually expect to be pushing through brush that tall. I ended up having to go to an infectious diseases doctor after catching something from that experience - so thanks.
So we finally get out of that mess and it's pines and palmettos. So not as much grass and brush but I don't think it was getting maintained any better. There are letters on the trail A,B,C,D... but most of the letters were missing. And in fact half the signs - the signs were just in the weeds next to posts. The trail is so overgrown even from tree branches from above there is no way we'd have figured out the trail went there without GPS. There's a boardwalk in there that goes 20 feet to nothing - odd - luxury treatment for pee breaks?
Eventually we saw a road and said thank god - let's get out of here.
Again - Nice wilderness - thanks for preserving it. Would really appreciate the signs being fixed and showing a schedule of when the trail is passable.
7) Time Requirements
Expect to either turn around or have navigational or bushwacking problems and to take extra time. That said it's 2-2.5 miles so 2 hours should be fine if you don't get very lost.
If the lake isn't dry it would be a nice 15 minute trip to just check out the birds from the boardwalk.
Trail starts out with trail head sign having a shotgun blast. BUT - good amount of info up.
Afterwards we spent awhile trying to find the trail until we noticed that there was a sign next to the boardwalk announcing the path but there was a plant so tall it blocked it from casual view. I'm not sure how many months it would take for that plant to be left there to get that big.
Eventually we broke through that - and I'm not entirely sure we made it through or just stumbled onto a separate trail. Along here there were supposed to be A,B,C...H trail markers. We saw something like B, D, E, J, H. If you're not sure where you are you can get some weird ideas with that kind of info - best to just have nothing. Then there were other signs or just empty posts where the sign was on the ground. Like the joke where someone spins the arrow on the nail except you hold the arrow on the sign and watch how it fell to guess where it was meant to point.
The overgrown part of the trail - all I noticed was brush but I believe it was oaks - that kind of thing. After escaping that it was good sized but narrow patch of tall pines and palmetto bushes. Along here was a boardwalk that went 25 feet to nowhere. There was no plausible thing in there. Weird. I'm starting to think the rangers were just passive aggressive and creative: Hey John let's f*ck with the hikers and make a boardwalk to nowhere - that would be hilarious.
It started to change back to more live oaks and then there was a picnic table - I was trying to wrap my head around that adventure we just had with the intention getting out sandwiches. Saw some raptors in the trees, odd insects, etc. At some point there was just no trail and one of those fallen down signs. Thankfully I had GPS and after puzzling that out realized that we had to go under that big oak tree branch and it continued. Never would have though of that without the GPS. Eventually we saw a road and just headed out of this. Along here there were lots of blackberries and a big florida cottonmouth that was not the least intimidated by us. Pictures look like we were 2 inches away but they have a long zoom.
Back to car - get out of here. I got some kind of tick bourne illness from this trip - maybe I'll share that in the essay section another time.
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