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Edward W. Chance Reserve Gilley Creek Tract

Birding / Hiking / Adventuring Roadtrip Info

ROUGH DRAFT

Dec 2023
 Typical view [?]
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Typical View (32)

Snapshots! (21)
GRADES: Click each for info, * = Note
How Big B *
Importance B *
Revisit? A
Birding C
Wildlife A *
Summer Heat D *
Terrain F *
Fun Hike B *
Maintained F *
Mosquitos C
Biting Files B
Ticks B *
NOTE: 1 long day is enough
NOTE: C+ B-
NOTE: Lots of wildlife
NOTE: You can stick to shade but you have to plan
NOTE: Some is injurous, other parts flat
NOTE: Very mixed bag see writeup
NOTE: Parts are fine parts abandoned most of year
NOTE: Always possible but I haven't had any here
 LOCATION: Accuracy: Read me
Map On Big Map: Click map (or on google maps). Address: 22455 Co Rd 675, Myakka City, FL, Manatee, USA, 34251

1) What It's Like

Hard to describe because it's not one kind of ecosystem. You have to walk an hour through miserable terrain and cow pastures then its bits of forest with odd 10ft deep canyons (really deep natural ditches) and streams surrounded by miles of trains that are very exposed to the sun. Worthwhile if you have the right mindset but you have to pay to get to the good parts. Definitely bring GPS because the trail markers are not reliable.

2) Kinds of Birds

Mostly forest birds. Cow pastures have meadowlarks. A lot of swallow tailed kites for some reason. Turkeys.

3) Wildlife

Deer, turkeys, armadillos, wild bee hives, skunks (not often), and a lot of pigs. Haven't seen many snakes. I've seen hunters when there is no hunt.

4) Amenities

I think I saw two picnic tables but one was under years of weed growth. Do not trust signs to exist.

5) Dear Ranger

Oh boy.

What is the story with the agricultural field off to the right having pipes dumping all their runoff onto the trail? It smells absolutely toxic - I've literally worn a heavy duty carbon painting respirator here. Pigs dig up the one long path in making it  the worst ankle breaker of a trail I've been on. When you combine that with not mowing but one time per year - you just can't be careful because you can't see the random holes. The weeds get 9ft tall in spots where you can't see if there are skunks etc. That's a lot of months of no maintenance to achieve that. I had to try getting through that half a dozen times before I made it all the way into the actual park. I've been injured a lot here. It would be AMAZING if you could park at the road between the two cow pastures. I've seen hunters set up elaborate hunting blinds at the far north end of the park - unsettling to turn a corner and be in gun sights when there are no warning signs that a hunt is going on. The signs - tons of them are long knocked down. Most of them are covered in weeds. I saw maps at the front once but there is no big printed permanent map.

6) Time Requirements

It's a difficult hour walk to get to the beginning of what the main park is. You can easily spend the day wandering around but you probably would want to be careful trying to do that in summer.

Experience

This is a weird one. If you have enough stamina and patience you can see a lot of wildlife and some odd and sometimes pretty landscape. But bring a GPS, tape for your ankles, and lots of protection from the sun if it's summer. Do not expect signs to guide you - a lot are missing or hidden under weeds. Also I went here 2 dozen times before I found a place to see the actual creek.

There's one entrance and it's a long walk from where the real park starts. Basically it's a skinny bit of land that eventually reaches the bigger park. At the start there is a tiny bit of forest if you go to the right. Left and right join up after that. Then you're walking next to a fence and an agricultural field. That field smells awful - I do not know what they are spraying in there. Also all the run off is directed directly onto the one path in so it's a stream for months at a time sometimes. And all that runoff fertilizes the hell out of the weeds on the one trail. 9ft tall ragweed for a LONG ways. And on top of that pigs dig around in this constantly so you can't see the ground and to not injury yourself in those holes. Like I said - you have to REALLY want to see this place. When you reach a person sized gate on the left you can go forward into those trees and if you look at the right that's Gilley Creek - only place you can really see it I've found. Not sure if you're supposed to go there or not because so many signs have been knocked over by mowing tractors.

I've never seen cows in this first pasture but there's plenty of cow poop so they must go in there. The cows are shy - I've never been charged by bulls or anything. Walk through here and on the right you'll see another fence and often there are horses in there. I think this is all private land in this part so probably best not to mess with them - though they are friendly. Also be sure to close the gates so the cows don't get loose. You go through 2 gates and cross a road that sure would make a lot of sense to park at - but I gather it's a legal issue. The last pasture here has meadowlarks if you listen and watch. When you near the treeline there's a little pond with a little alligator (was little last time I saw him).

From there you start getting into the odd geology of this place. There are iron clay deposits (I'm not a geologist but you see red nodules and clay) and what kind of seem like a lot of random 10ft deep canyons/ditches. I assume it's from water wearing down. I'll elaborate later. You go down a muddy hill and there's a stream you can hop over. You climb back up the other side and you've arrived. There's a picnic bench here. You can go straight or to the right. There are fingers of forest going here and there with those canyons usually in the middle. If you go forward and explore to the left there are a bunch. If you go way way out there there's a trickle of what I guess is part of Gilley creek but it seems like people are entering from maybe (no idea just guessing) the gun club to the north. I don't have any advice beyond that here - just go where it seems interesting on the map.

I've seen lots of deer here, armadilos, gopher tortoises, armadillo. Quite a few pigs. I overheard a horrendous battle between a pig and what I assume was a bobcat. There are some wild bees - be careful. Haven't seen many snakes. At dusk on the way back out there are often pigs but sometimes a lot of skunks who aren't as afraid of you as you might like.

I've gone back quite a few times but it's really not worth it if you aren't going to spend half a day due to that miserable entrance.

 

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