Monday, February 20, 2017

Lower Green Swamp Nature Preserve, Florida, February 16, 2017

Lower Green Swamp Nature Preserve, Plant City, Florida, 2/16/2017.

Distance: 8.4 miles (Central, East, West Loops, and Connector trail)

Trailhead: Trail begins at 3536 East Knights Griffin Road, Plant City, Florida. My car GPS was off by about two miles - keep driving down East Knights Griffin Road if you don't see it.  Parking area is well marked and maps are available (I've also included a map at the end of this report). 

Hiked with Lindsey (and Daisy) today.  It had been a while since we hiked together and we just wanted to get out and enjoy the day. Lower Green Swamp Nature Preserve is a relatively new multi-use area for hikers, bird-watchers and equestrians.  I'd heard a lot about it and was curious to check it out. 

Just a few cars were in the lot when we arrived.

Some maps are available at the kiosk.

A posting at the kiosk indicated the purple trail was closed as portions were undergoing prescribed burning. We looked on the map and didn't see a purple trail listed but figured we'd keep an eye out for it.

Much of the hike is on wide paths like the one below. We headed up the West Loop and then took a Connector trail.

Areas are well blazed and numbered!

The trails pass through five gates to secure the areas being used as cow pasture. These gates are loosely chained, easily opened. About ten minutes into our hike we came upon a large clearing. 

The West Loop is not pink (as on the map) but purple!

Here the Connector trail skirts the right side of the pasture, hugging the Itchepackesassa Creek.  Creekside provides a narrow variation to the flat and wide we'd been on.  We found a bunch of cow bones in this area.

River bed is dry here.

Falls on the right, path on the left.

Hey, Daisy! Here's a cow bone!

We crossed the bridge, headed right onto the West trail (the purple trail), and attempted to open the gate. This one was locked.

Just then a  hiker hopped over the gate and headed toward us.  We wondered if the gate was locked because of the burning.  He said he hadn't come across any smoke or fires and indicated things were quiet where we were headed. We climbed over the gate (Daisy snuck through the opening).


We reached a junction with a left turn at the area marked #7 but continued on the path straight ahead.  

Perhaps we should have gone left at #7 as things were not quiet here; smoke was up ahead. As we got closer we saw an active burn, flames shooting 10-12 feet! It was awesome. After stern looks from the firefighters we moved past the flames (incredibly close to us) and headed toward another gate.  

The flames were crazy, licking close to us and the road.

The rest of the hike went quickly as we headed down the Central and East Loops.  

Daisy's waiting patiently.

Benches and picnic tables strategically placed on the paths.

Preserve headquarters.

As we approached the parking lot a large group on horses headed toward us, much to Daisy's delight.