Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Florida River Trail Hike - Croom Tract, Withlacoochee State Forest, 9/22/18

River Trail Hike - Ridge Manor to Silver Lake, Brooksville, Florida, September 22, 2018

Mileage:  6.8 miles (linear, point-to-point)

Trailhead: This hike begins at the southern end of the River Trail at the Ridge Manor trailhead (Withlacoochee Trail), and ends at the Silver Lake Day Use Area, 31475 Silver Lake Road - both addresses are in Brooksville.  To reach Ridge Manor trailhead, take I-75 north to exit 301, go right onto SR 50 for one mile. Turn left onto Croom-Rital Road.  In half a mile turn right into the Ridge Manor parking lot.  Parking is allowed during the day.  (Trail map below.)

Hiked with Rich and the Sun Coast Chapter of the Florida Trail Association today as part of a weekend-long annual event.  We camped at Silver Lake Campground just a few miles from the trailhead.

The large group piled into cars and trucks and rode the four miles to Ridge Manor trailhead.  The relative cool of the morning was no match for the heat that bore down on us right from the beginning. 

Good sized parking lot at Ridge Manor trailhead.

Withlacochee bike trail (formerly Henry Plant's railroad tracks).

The trail begins wide and grassy. We were hoping for more shade. 

We followed yellow blazes for a short time and then hopped on to the orange-blazed Florida National Scenic Trail. The trail veers to the left; right takes you to Route 50. 

Started off following yellow.

This comes up fast!

Right takes you back to the highway (don't go there).

As is typical this time of year, the trail is wet and peppered with those fun-loving banana spiders, known for their "fishing line" webs right at eye level.

Wet trail, we skirted around.

Minding their own business but always in the way!
The trail follows the river for most of the way.  It's mostly shaded, making the 90°+ day slightly more tolerable.

Withlacoochee river.

It's a nice walk with bridges, benches and cute signs.

Not sure the purpose of the signs but we were entertained.

The real showstoppers however, are the cypress.  Thick complex root systems allow these elegant trees to withstand long periods in deep flood waters.

Eventually we wound up at the trail's north kiosk at Crooked River Campground. We followed the signs back to Cypress Glen Campground.  

Near Crooked River Campground.

At Cypress Glen Campground we attempted to continue on the blue trail to Silver Lake Campground and Day Use Area.  But the path was very flooded (not surprisingly this stretch is also known as the "low water" trail). At this point we weren't particularly excited to hike in the wet, so we turned left and headed there via road.

The trail continues on next to Site 53.

Bridge helped here but not further down!

Not going that way!

Road walk.

The hike ended at Silver Lake Day Use Area.  A nice way to spend a morning!