January 31, 2015
Wow. Just wow.
As I mentioned in my post about my trip down the Wekiva River, I have been enlightened. Florida to me has always meant flat, boring, long lines, traffic…you get the point. Other than to see family, it has never been a place that appeals to me. That has changed. Don’t get me wrong, I have not called the moving van, but I now know there are great things for my nature loving self to do when I visit.
Today, I again took a break from suburbia and found may way to the Little-Big Econ State Forest, where I hiked the Kolokee Trail. It is a 4.7 loop hike that includes what floridahikes.com calls the best section of the Florida Trail and the most scenic section of the Econlockhatchee River. I can’t say they are right, as this was my only time seeing either, but I can’t imagine Florida can offer up a much better day hike than this. Cool, wet forest. Beautiful river views. Elevation change. Cool, twisting trees. Trail bridges that make you wonder if they will hold you.
This hike is lollipop, that is it has a .9 mile segment that begins and ends the hike, complimented by three trail segments that form a loop.
After the approach trail, the beauty really picks up, as the hike continues to the left on the white spur trail, meandering in the high ground around the river and its tributaries.Some of the bridges are really cool, and adventurous, with some of the planks missing and warning signs galore.
The white spur trail ends at the Flagler trail, a wide and painfully straight multi-purpose trail which the loop turns right on and follows for a quick .4 miles. On this day, after seeing not one soul thus far in my hike, I ran across a photowalk group roughly 40 people strong. Between that mass of people and the discreet nature of the Florida Trail sign on the right before the bridge over the river, I added about a quarter mile each way to my hike as I over shot my turn off.
It was then that I got to hike a short but beautiful segment of a National Scenic Trail. That was cool for me, as I am a bit addicted at times to trailjournals.com and reading journals of hikers making thru-hikes of our nation’s great trails. I am also a bit of a national park geek, and as the Florida Trail is recognized as a National Scenic Trail, I got to get a little geek on. Only bummer of the day was the lack of a place to get a Florida Trail patch or hiking stick medallion to add to my collection.
Back to the hike, the Florida Trail winds its way back toward the start by hugging the Econlockhatchee river, providing plenty of scenic vistas and more cool bridges. There was also a camp site full of (presumably) thru-hikers (again, cool from a bucket list hope to do someday perspective).
The hike closes out back on the lollipop stick, a nice gentle end to a great hike. It felt really good to get out for a 5 mile hike in the middle of winter. Just what I needed!