Typical view [?]
NOTE: No place for them to land and see them
NOTE: Animals there but you will not likely see them under plants
LOCATION: Accuracy: Read me
A miserable sea of saw palmetto and pine trees that the trail will make sure you never get near. Pretty to look at but incredibly boring to hike.
Birds can't really perch on palmetto bushes so if there are any there you'll have to hope they land on the very sparse pine trees. We did a lot of that hoping and I think we saw one bird per hour. Pretty sure it was the same mockingbird every time. Some birds DO hang out along the entrance road but nothing to justify the trip. We didn't complete the whole trail but we did plenty - if it got great after 4 hours they can keep it. Walking up the road to tosahatchee will net your more bird sightings even if you never make it.
Saw palmetto is perfect for animals to hide in. You hear things run around in there but you're unlikely to see anything. We saw deer prints - they might be tall enough to see but we haven't seen any. Some rabbits at beginning of trail once but that was forest-adjacent. People walking dogs.
I think they had chemical toilets but I could be wrong. Somewhere out there is a camping area, it's horse and bike friendly - this might not be bad on those because the scenery change would start to be tolerable. Also they have plenty of saw palmetto and a lesser quantity of pine trees.
I'm tempted to just type in the directions to Tosahatchee up the road.
Can't you make the trails dip into the pine trees once in awhile? Or can you mark the beginning of the trail: Danger - trail avoids shade at all times - bring water or you will die.
At this park if you need to keep it short you're definitely going to hate it. I'm looking at a GPS track and the walk from the parking area to where it turns into the sea of palmettos That's about 15 minutes to walk to. We walked two hours. Looking at the trails that are entered into open street maps if you did every bit of trail shown that's about 20 hours. That is officially what my personal hell would look like. (Shudder)
Let me start with the positive. The hike out before it becomes an existentially destabilizing prairie: not bad. It's just a dirt road but not bad. We've seen rabbits. We've seen a fair number of birds. It's near a couple other large forests including Tosahatchee so add them all up and that's a lot of wilderness to attract animals. That is the last good thing I have to say about this. Oh wait - one more.
Driving past this kind of thing on the interstate I always thought it was gorgeous. Huge expanse of palmettos with a second layer of tall pine trees. (Usually there are more pines than this place.) The problem I have with hiking it is it just never changes. After a while I get delirious on this palmetto prairies and always make the same joke: I'm going to take two pictures, repeat them 100 times on the website and they will have the exact experience of being here. And what really stinks is that it always looks like you're walking to make it to those trees "over there"... but eventually you realize that the trail will always turn to safely avoid anything interesting like a forest.
I'm sure there is wildlife out here - I know there are deer etc. But you aren't going to see them. You could put on x-ray specks and find out there are bobcat, panther, mink, fox squirrels, and they're all having tea parties 10 feet from you - but you'll never see them because they are under the sea of palmetto bushes. You do hear things move in there sometimes.
And same for birds. Within binocular distance you'll be able to see a handful of trees within reasonable distance and it's rare to see a bird in them. I don't see what the bird would get out of flying to it. Same with the palmettos - not many birds can really land on a palm frond. I'm sure there could be a million doves under the palmettos if you got out your xray spex but they are happy staying there.
ALL that said - it is wilderness. You are away from it all. If that's what hiking is about for you then I can see loving this. If you were on a horse and you had a better vantage, or if you were on a bike and it all went by much faster - again I could see this becoming a different experience. But hiking - misery. And god help you if you try this in summer because there's more shade on a beach.
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