Sunday, January 15, 2017

Withlacoochee River Trail, Dade City, FL, January 14, 2017

Withlacoochee River Trail, Florida, 1/14/2017.

Distance: 5.4 miles (loop outside the park) and 3 ish miles (loop within the park)

Trailhead: Withlacoochee River Park, 12449 Withlacoochee Boulevard, Dade City, FL. Maps are at the park entrance (I included one at the end of this report).  Fee to park is $2.00.  The Withlacoochee River trail was developed and is maintained by the Florida Trail Association.

Hiked with a Meetup group today.  We met at the canoe launch, turned right and took the trail by the river.

Canoe launch (trail starts at end, on the right).

The river is beautiful on this misty morning.

The Florida Trail sign marks the beginning of the trail.

The trail skirts the river for a time, then loses it.  At .6 miles we crossed back over into the park proper to take advantage of the bathrooms - then returned to the trail, which veers left and away from the park.

Wetlands to our left.

Restrooms are through this gate and to the left.

Back on the trail, orange blazed.

The path is well-blazed, with a curious placing of some of the double-blazes.  We checked for a trail junction or turn at each double blaze and sometimes didn't find either. However, on a dead-flat route (much of it open woods) we were happy to have the thoughtful amount of orange where we needed it.

Continued on the Loop.

We walked in the woods, through gates and by ferns - and crossed a few grassy roads. At the far reaches of the route there's a sign that points you to several primitive campsites.  We didn't check them out today.

One of the roads we crossed.

Continued on the Loop.

We turned and headed down an old road (at the double blazed post).

The road walk is short lived; we soon ducked back into the woods at the next double-blaze.

Very open in this area - keep an eye on the blazes!

Cypress (area was fairly dry).

Further into the woods the trail touches the river in a clearing complete with flipping fish and a lazy gator. This is a kayaking and canoeing lunch spot, a beautiful setting.

Finding the trail here gets a little confusing, but just for a moment, blazes lead you the correct way!
Open spot - which way?!

We wound up back at the loop sign in no time, completing our circle.

Antsy to do more mileage, we headed decided to hike the trails within the park proper. We started back at the restrooms.

Park trail.

Areas are well marked, you can't get lost!

The park's outlook tower is one of the nicest I've seen.  Seventy steps take you to the top of a well constructed, downright fancy overlook.  

She's a beauty! (Photo by Betty).

Grand as it is, there's not much to see other than treetops.

We followed the red, yellow, and blue trails (noted on the map as Boardwalks #1 and #3 and the Perimeter trails). Off the boardwalks, the trails are completely wooded; we passed the campsites and the pioneer village replica before we got back to the car.

Planks have been replaced on this boardwalk.

This boardwalk could use a little TLC.

We finished around 1:00, found a barbecue place in Dade City and had lunch.

Our routes.

Withlacoochee RiverPark map.