Typical view [?]
NOTE: Actually want to know if some corner has somethign interesting
NOTE: Saw none but SHOULD have some
NOTE: Torn up land when we were there
LOCATION: Accuracy: Read me
We only saw part of the place but it sucked so bad we haven't found the will to go back. The first mile or two feels like you're going on a long walk through abandoned agricultural fields and not many trees in the distance to make you think there's a point. Also an RC plane field on site and the sound of airborne leafblowers doesn't add to the experience if you and they time your visits to overlap. If some corner of this place is great we'd love to hear about it. I'm thinking they are in the middle of developing this into connecting to other preserves and it just isn't much yet.
OUTSIDE the property we saw quite a few birds - turkeys, robin, kestrel. But inside the park maybe a cardinal.
I assume there's deer etc but saw no tracks.
Terrible signs, a place to park, the dulcet tones of remote controlled airplanes, wacky terrain from creative bulldozer work, ample opportunity to test your mettlel and question your method of choosing trails today, a chance to appreciate birds after a period of seeing none, a truly nice drive to get here, practice at sleuthing out an address without use of accurate GPS.
Do not trust anyone - google maps says it's 1/2 mile further up the road and SWFMD seems to be employing toddlers to decide where to place their signs - it's paralllel and close to the road so you'll only see it right when you're passing it.... which is not where you expect to see if if following GPS. Just look at the photos and/or GPS before you go and remember it's on the south side of the road not quite where your phone might say.
Holy god do you have terrible road signs. If you use google maps it tells you to expect to see the address a half mile further up the road than the entrance but the problem is that your sign is 90 degrees in the wrong direction. I mean anyone making signs for a yard sale knows not to do that - you have to point it at oncoming drivers - not hope they glance to the side at the right instant. The RC club sharing the property at least put theirs further back.
If there is some great forested part of this place I'd say you have to give it a good bit of time to even get to it because we walked for about 40 minutes and saw nothing worth continuing on for. It's about 3000 acres and judging by the map of trails if we wanted to do every possible loop we could have done 6 hours of walking. But this place is near the the bottom of the list of places I'd want to do that at.
We plug the address into the GPS and can't find anything close when we arrive. We look across the street and think that's the only option and almost entered whatever that was before deciding - no that can't be right. We start expanding the search and a half mile up the road we realize that google got it wrong on GPS. Up to this point it was exciting because it's in a promising area with turkeys etc. Finally see the sign - but it's parallel to the road so you only see it as you're passing and looking closely plus there is another sign much more readable for the RC club also on site and you just assume that is what the road is. So we park and there are odd people in a truck hanging out. We ignore that and start walking in and hear an unholy sound of dueling leafblowers everywhere in the air. So a good distance off we've discovered the RC people at their field and notice that with no trees to block the noise this is going to be going on for the entire visit. No offense to RC people but holy god is that loud. On the left are some trees but not enough of them to really do anything as far as make it seem life a forest. On the right is a field. There are bulldozers and land is just torn up in general here so - sigh - this really stinks. Eventually we turn and go on the most interesting path hoping to see something and give up, hop a fence, and just start walking along the road to get back to the car and leave. 0/10 stars. The road was more interesting and it was a lot of semi's on a two lane highway.
Florida's water management districts are always the worst at caring how hikers experience things. I think they buy land to reserve water resources and hikers etc are just a way to try to get people on their side as an after thought that's never quite a completed thought. Which is fine - I just wish they'd put that last 5% of effort into things that get half-assed like signs. Try getting a volunteer core up and let us do it! That said - I think what is going on here is they bought the land relatively recently - 2003 - and they are very slowly doing something to it with plans to connect it to Starkey Wilderness and Cypress Creek. So - might be great some day but for now what we saw stunk.
Up the road are a couple sites we have better luck at for birds - fields off the side of McKendree Rd and Bellamy Brothers Rd. Also San Antonio in general can be a fun stop.
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