Terra Ceia Preserve trails, November 6, 2016.
Distance: 5.9 miles (several loops and one out-and-back)Trailhead: The address of the Terra Ceia Preserve is 130 Terra Ceia Road, Terra Ceia, which brings you to the Haley House on the preserve property
(coordinates 27.579500,-82.577667). The address to use for car navigation systems is 130 Terra Ceia Road, Palmetto, Florida.
Heading South on I-275: Take US 19 exit #5, two-lane exit - stay in left exit lane, make first left on Terra Ceia Road at end of exit, make 2nd left on Hightower Road (road winds back under 275). Trailhead is at the end of the gravel road.
Heading North on I-275: Take US 41S exit #2 to 73rd Street, go right. Make a right on Bishop Harbor Rd, and a left on 77th Street E - pass Haley House on your right, make slight right on Hightower Road. Parking is a few hundred feet in. Trails are beyond the gate
|Haley House (ranger headquarters).|
Hiked with a group led by George Mesnier, Trail Manager of the Terra Ceia Preserve. The trails are new and well maintained and the preserve staff expects they will become popular.
|You'll head here at the Hightower Road sign.|
|Gated for foot traffic only.|
|Trail kiosk. I took a photo of the map for reference.|
There are creeks, marshes and tidal flats in this area. At one time there were houses and there is still evidence of that (just a bit). Throughout the hike you step on and off a wide path that is also used as an access road for maintenance.
|There are three paths with corresponding colors.|
|We swung right, onto the blue path.|
|Then we hit the white trail.|
|The trail took us in and out of the woods.|
We arrived at the tidal flats where we saw small fiddler crabs and tasted saltwart leaves. The area is vast and damp, eagerly waiting to get wet again. Note: this area is under water at times.
|Spiders spin their webs across the trail, at chest/head height (Yay, um Ew!).|
|This one is about 3-4 inches long.|
Being new to the area, we are curious about plants and wildlife, specifically what stings, bites and charges. Feral hogs (aka wild boars) are a Florida hiker's biggest wildlife concern, with snakes not far behind. We saw neither today.
|A ranger's hog trap. Hogs ruin new plantings.|
Below is my favorite photo. Though alligators are generally not a concern with hikers (we aren't food to them), it is wise to be aware. Just to the right of this sign, in the distance, is a park bench (barely visible here). Sorry, but if you are telling me to watch out for alligators here, I'm not likely to sit down and relax!
|End-of-hike pond shot.|
All in all it is a nice walk in the wood and around wetlands with a good group of people. We were done by lunchtime.
For more information about the Preserve, visit: https://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/areas/terraceia.html