Typical view [?]
NOTE: You cannot see birds in Palmetto bushes so - not good
NOTE: Should be some - next to wilderness - but the terrain hides them
NOTE: It felt difficult
NOTE: Mowed but horrifying signs
NOTE: They like shade - not much of that.
NOTE: Tall grass and deer around but we had no ticks
LOCATION: Accuracy: Read me
Parts near the entrance are intersting forest but most is endless meandering through a sea of saw palmetto that always avoids trees. It's very exposed and not much of anything to look at but the same view. It may get interesting after 4 hours - let us know if that is the case =)
Also I think some people like this kind of environment for hiking - big wide open prairie. And it is a large park, you don't hear road noise, and it's connected to a much larger wilderness (green swamp). So it actually is a nice park if you enoy this kind of place.
Turkeys at entrance! The beginning is typical light forest. Most of the trail is saw palmetto prairie and maybe there are birds IN those bushes but few spots to see birds perched - so terrible birding at that point IMHO.
Cattle are really close at the gate sometimes. People say there are deer out there but we didn't see any. You hear things in the palmettos once per hour but there could be 200,000 bobcats doing a conga line 20 ft from side of entire trail system and you wouldn't see a thing out there.
Maybe there was a chemical toilet. Be skeptical of the map and the signs.
The end of Patrinostro Rd off of Paul Buchman Hwy. Make sure your map says "Blackwater" on it, don't cross fences anywhere near the entrance - there are pissed off bulls around. See "Dear Ranger" below.
Anyone who wants to label trails - I think that's a little heroic. Anyone who wants to maintain trails on the microbudgets that this state gives to public lands is again a little heroic. But what gets me is when it would just take zero effort not to ruin people's days. Is it general disinterest or is it an inability to put yourself in the position of someone who's never hiked the spot. NOW - after having hiked it - all the signs make sense but aren't signs mostly for new people not to get lost?
So - here's my experience minus a lot of foul language. See pictures for all this. We did not enjoy your signs and maps. Definitely in the top 3 of the 200+trails we've been on. Decoy maps to other trails with names so generic you don't realize they are for a different trail (everything in the region is part of the "Lower Green Swamp"). Following the wrong map takes you to a field of pissed off bulls. The signs that should be at those bull gates saying it's a boundary are at a 90 degree angle to the trail so you have to spot a 1mm line and walk to the side to see it - and it's decades old and covered with algae. The pivotal sign orienting if you're committing yourself to which direction of hours of shadeless heat stroke or onto cattle land uses a label maker to say points "1" and "11" are both this spot. Which they aren't. If you just used a sharpie to draw two arrows that would work (until the sun bleached it). Also - this sign was made from the backside of a border sign mentioned as missing above (90 degree thing). If we got lost and spent an hour out what was going on with this at home with satellite maps... it has to be causing problems for a fair number of other people. I'm trying to imagine aunt margie and uncle joe figuring it out better.
You can easily do a walk as short as you want - I'd say the first 20 minutes of the trail are the nicest in terms of being able to see trees rather than an existentially bleak landscape of palmettos. We've walked 2 hours twice here - I don't have the map in front of me but judging by GPS track and the size of the park I'd assume you could do at least 6 hours.
Let me quote what I said about Hal Scott because for most of this trail it is the same:
As I've said before - some people love licorice - some people don't. Some people like trails without trees and we don't. You people are dumb and we hate this place. The delirious joke I keep making at these kinds of places is that I'm going to take one picture and copy it 100 times for the website. It's funny because the view doesn't change much. Hey! More palmetto bushes and distant pines! And it can keep enticing you on and on and on because it always looks like it's about to take you into those trees but the trail will always safely steer away back into the sea of palmetto bushes. And I'm sure there is wildlife in there - but it's tall enough that you are pretty much never going to see it.
So this trail - ug. It starts out nice. I mean there are trees and interest. Very often we see turkeys at the entrance - one tried to get in our car once - that was pretty great. But one problem is the above - it's for people who like their trails to avoid trees. It's just endless. Well we probably walked 2 hours max but we didn't want to find out it took 8 hours to find nothing more than what we saw.
The other problem is it has some of the worst trail markings we've seen. I'll save that for the Dear Ranger section. The most interesting time here though has been spent leaving the park accidentally.
All the negative things said above - I think some people like this kind of prairie trail. It is big, you don't hear road traffic or see signs of people. So it is nice from that perspective.
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