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 interesting 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 enjoy this kind of place. I hate that so get ready for hearing bias in the rest.
Turkeys at entrance! One tried to get in our car! 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. If you jump the wrong gate (no idea if there is a RIGHT gate to jump in here) you could end up with angry steers.
I don't think there was anything but I may be forgetting a chem toilet. I got lost due to the maps and signs but someone told me the signs got better since I've been back. Double check you get map to "Blackwater creek" and not "Green Swamp". Also someone was living on site at the entrance - I'm guessing a ranger?
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 not friendly looking bulls around.
Someone told me the signs were improved here since I've been - so maybe most of this is no longer relevant.
I'm a bright guy, I've walked a lot of trails. Sure it seems dumb the mistakes I made here but only because it's not my 1st time here now.
My experience is that I read the trail head. Some things were not visible because they fell off from the tape peeling - probably nothing important (shrug). I grabbed a map from one of those standard black mailbox things. Looked like you go left before long to get to a creek on the map and it said there were cattle gates around. I see a gate and no signs telling me I'm crossing into private property (with bulls on it). I figured it out and found signs... they were on posts at 90 degree angles to the trail so you had to walk to the side to see they were there. I only figured the whole thing out after I got home and overlayed the map on satellite images for like an hour before I realized - OH... this is a map to a completely different park - the nearby "Lower Green Swamp Preserve"... I just figured "lower green swamp" was labeling the general area... because you could label it like that. I look at it now and it's obvious and embarrassing but I'm a bright guy who hikes a lot and if it can happen to me it can happen to others. So there's my 2 cents.
Again it didn't help that I had the wrong map but the signs (which I hear have been replaced) were really not clear. One of the pivotal signs out there where you're going to commit to a long exposed walk was confusing for example. A labelmaker was used to say points "1" and "11" are both this spot. Which they weren't. I think a sharpie pointing left and right to where 1 and 11 were - that would have helped a lot. Again - once you know that it's obvious but not if you're trying to figure out where you are the first time.
All that said - thanks for providing a nice bit of wilderness for us to hike!
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 (we walked about 2 hours before giving up on it turning into something else). I'm thrilled it exists - I just don't get why it can't have a second trail that at least skirts the trees sometimes.
The other problem is it has some of the worst trail markings we've seen (rumor is this is improved). 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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