FEBRUARY IS FLORIDA HIKING TRAILS MONTHFeb 3rd, 2011 | By Submitted | Category: Letters To The Editor, Outdoors
Take a hike, or a stroll, on SRWMD lands
LIVE OAK, FL, February 3, 2011 – Sylvia Dunnam found solace from the hustle and bustle of the city when she moved to Suwannee County from West Palm in 1986. It was nature that drew her to north Florida.
“I wanted to be closer to nature and I knew I would have access to the Florida Trail,” she said.
After Dunnam made her home in McAlpin she discovered that her hiking opportunities were not limited to the Florida Trail – one of eleven National Scenic Trails.
Dunnam, who founded the Suwannee Chapter of the Florida Trail Association, helps organize guided hikes and camping and canoeing trips, some of which take place on lands owned by the Suwannee River Water Management District (District).
“We enjoy bird watching and admiring the flora and fauna along the way,” Dunnam said. “One unique feature of this area is the different types of geology.”
On a recent hike on the District’s Jennings Bluff Tract in Hamilton County, Dunnam was among a group of 19 who observed the Dead River, a winding creek that takes water from the Alapaha River and funnels it into a sinkhole.
“This is a spectacular place to visit,” said Megan Wetherington, District senior professional engineer. “The river reemerges 16 miles downstream as the largest single freshwater spring in the state before flowing into the Suwannee River.”
Wetherington said the karst geology in this part of Florida causes many rivers and streams to flow underground through sinkholes.
Edwin McCook, the District’s land management specialist, said other interesting features that hikers may encounter on District lands include unique wildlife, whitewater rapids and champion trees – the largest of trees within a species.
In addition, more than 50 miles of the Florida Trail traverses District land.
The District invites the public to explore nature by hiking on District lands during the month of February to celebrate Florida Hiking Trails Month.
“The District encourages hikers and others to take advantage of the 183 miles of trails that provide hiking, biking and equestrian opportunities on District-owned lands,” said McCook.
The Florida Trail Association provides ongoing planned hikes and other recreational opportunities, some of which take place on District lands.
“If you are unable to participate in a guided hike sponsored by the Florida Trail Association, you may take a self-guided hike on District property anytime,” said McCook.
All District hiking trails are free and open to the public every day of the year. Following is a list of some of the best hiking opportunities:
• Bell Springs, Columbia County
• Big Shoals, Hamilton County
• Holton Creek, Hamilton County
• Falling Creek Falls, Columbia County
• White Springs Tract, Hamilton County
• Little Shoals, Columbia County
• Gar Pond, Columbia County
• Stephen Foster Tract, Hamilton County
• Camp Branch, Hamilton County
• Ellaville Tract, Madison County
• Anderson Springs, Suwannee County
• Black Tract, Madison County
• Mill Creek North, Madison County
• Mill Creek South, Madison County
• Owens Spring, Lafayette County
• Cabbage Grove, Taylor County
• Steinhatchee Falls, Taylor County
Maps to each of the above tracts are available under the Best Recreational Opportunities link on the District’s website. It can be accessed at www.mysuwanneeriver.com/recreation. For more information contact Edwin McCook at 386.362.1001 or email@example.com.
For more information about planned hikes and other recreational opportunities hosted by the Suwannee Chapter of the Florida Trail Association call Sylvia Dunnam at 386.362.3256 or visit www.suwannee.floridatrail.org.
The District acquires and manages lands for flood control, water quality protection and natural resource conservation. District lands are open to the public for recreational activities, such as hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and horseback riding.