Alafia River Corridor Nature Preserve, Lithia, FL, 2/25/2017.
Distance: 10.5 miles (loop and a few out-and-backs)
Trailhead: Trailhead is adjacent to the Pinecrest Little League fields, located at 9312 S. County Road 39, Plant City (there are bathrooms at the field). We parked outside the fence - near the road. I've included a rough map (complete with corresponding numbers) at the end of this report.
Hiked with the Sun Coast Chapter of the Florida Trail Association. The day started cloudy but by afternoon it was sunny and warm. The Alafia River Corridor Nature Preserve consists of re-vegetated former phosphate mining acreage which offers some ups and downs, pits filled with water (bright green), and a two-headed palm tree!
|The trailhead is left of the fields.|
The first ten minutes of trail is the best part of this hike (IMO), with ferns and other lush vegetation, enveloped by moss covered trees. There's the feeling of being hugged by the forest as you pass through.
|Our hike began in area #2.|
Soon we were on a wider path, heading for the river.
|North prong Alafia River.|
In the middle of nowhere there's a pile of concrete, and a junction - we took a hard right (toward area #1 on the map).
|Pile of concrete - keep on the trail a bit farther.|
|We went right on the loop.|
We took the path marked "1A" to the power lines and boundary where the neighbors treated us to a few fireworks.
|Boundary - horses and fireworks.|
We then backtracked and headed up a small hill, walking on a spine with the most beautiful canopy.
|A beautiful canopy of moss overhead.|
The mining of phosphate resulted in many pits and depressions in this area. As we walked the spine we could see what was left of those pits - steep inclines and dropoffs, now filled with trees and ferns.
|Now heading on path #7.|
|Steep incline (good for training!).|
We turned left toward the lake and stopped there for lunch.
|The lake area has a fire pit, benches and a water pump.|
After lunch we backtracked toward area #2, crossed over the railroad tracks and walked down the road until we reached a large field.
|On the road that runs parallel to the tracks.|
We skirted this field (see tower in the distance) dodging many large ant hills on the "path" (more like an old road). About halfway down on the far side of the field we found the two-headed palm tree.
Apparently two headed palm trees are rare in the wild. This one appears to have been struck by lightning, which caused the anomaly.
After many photos we ended our time in the clearing by turning right and heading toward the camping area.
Back over the train tracks, we returned to trail #2, and back to our cars.
|Back on that lovely stretch of forest.|
|Our crazy route (with several out-and-backs).|
|Map of the area trails.|