Posts tagged: hike

Crater Lake

By , August 17, 2010 1:33 pm

Dasy really wanted to see Crater Lake, so we headed down there for a couple days.  Crater Lake is pretty much in the middle of no where.  We could have camped in the park, but it was primitive (no water or electric) and we weren’t sure if we’d fit, so we decided to stay at Collier Memorial State Park instead.  There we found full hookups, pleasant sites, a nice little creek and LOTS of very bold ground squirrels. ;)  We’d recommend it if you don’t mind the drive from there to Crater Lake.

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Crater Lake itself is one of the smaller National Parks.  It has a couple of little villages and visitor centers, but it’s mostly just one loop road around the lake.  IMG_2807Our main goal was to catch the boat tour around the lake, with a stop at Wizard Island.  Even though we bypassed several overlooks to get there at a reasonable time, they were already booked up for the entire day (cost is $28 per person, $10 extra if you want to stop at Wizard Island). :(  We contented ourselves with a hike down to the lake instead. 

The hike is on the Cleetwood Cove Trail, which goes from the crater rim down to the boat dock and it is the only place you can actually get to the lake.  It is not for the faint of heart or the weak of knee!  It was just over a mile in distance, but the elevation difference from the rim to the lake is about 700 feet.  It took us about half an hour to go down.

Once at the bottom, we stuck our feet in the water and ate our lunch while watching several people swim and jump off the rocks into the lake.  It was cold, but apparently bearable “once you get in”.  We didn’t test that, mainly because I didn’t want to be hiking back up in wet clothes and shoes.  Were I to return, I’d probably bring trunks or some extra socks and shirt at least. 

IMG_2837The hike back up was significantly worse, but bearable if you’re in reasonably decent shape, or if you have a LOT of time and a couple bottles of water.  In the parking lot they sell shirts that say “One mile down, six miles up”.  ;) 

The lake itself is pretty cool and is an awesome color of blue.  Depending on where you are at different stops and at different times of the day, it can be more or less blue.  Our photographs show that somewhat.  I tried to keep the photographs as true to the original colors as I could… I didn’t enhance any of them to make them more colorful.

There are a few other areas of the park that are worth mentioning that we checked out…  Vidae Falls are quite nice, accessible from the road and worth stopping for.  There is also a section called The Pinnacles that is quite neat and worth the extra drive (it’s about 7 miles off the main loop).  The Pinnacles are spires of volcanic rock that are now exposed due to erosion of the surrounding rock.  Our final stop for the day was at the Castle Crest Wildflower Trial.  That was pretty cool, but we made some navigation errors at the start and had to do some backtracking before we found where we were meant to be (from the parking area, keep to the right, over the footbridge).  If you manage to go the right direction, it’s a 1 mile loop through some very nice growth areas around a small stream.

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Bolen Bluff Trail

By , March 3, 2010 5:04 am

Some spanish moss

Dasy and I both managed to carve out some time yesterday, so we took the opportunity to visit Paynes Prairie.  We’d been trying to get out here for some time, so we just decided to go, even though the weather wasn’t great.  It was windy, overcast and threatening to rain the entire time, but it held out long enough for us to do some exploring.Intertwined

Paynes Prairie is a natural oddity.  It’s part of Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, which includes a lot of area beyond the prairie itself.  The “prairie” is not the kind you think of when you think about Little House on the Prairie.  It’s basically a floating mass of plants that pretty much just sits there while the water slowly flows under it.  It’s a pretty strange, but interesting place.  Of course, due to it’s very nature, you can’t exactly go walking around in the prairie.  The Preserve has several good trails that will keep you dry and allow you to do some exploring.  We took Bolen Bluff Trail, Nothing lasts foreveras it’s one I pass almost every day I go to work and I know that it actually goes out into the prairie.

Bolen Bluff is listed as being a 2.5 mile loop.  We took some detours, so probably ended up doing about 5 miles, but didn’t actually complete the loop.  Expect about 3 miles total if you just want to go to the viewing platform and back to the parking area.

The trail starts at in “woods”, which are pretty much the standard Florida old woods, but a bit more “open”.  Florida woods and forests generally get overgrown with brush.  This one doesn’t.  You can see a fair distance and it’s quite open.  A dirt trail is your guide most of the time.  From the parking area, take the left fork if you want to head to the prairie.  Can't we all just get along?

While in the woods, keep your eyes open for deer and horses.  There are a few herds of wild horses on the prairie and they will sometimes come into the woods.  We didn’t actually see the horses on this trip, but there was “evidence” of their passing. 😉

ArmadilloWhile on the prairie itself, we were pleasantly surprised to see an armadillo.  We were even more surprised to see that he wasn’t the “flat” variety most often seen while driving. ;)  He was foraging for something and really couldn’t have cared one bit that were a couple feet from him taking pictures.

Also be on the look out for hawks, bald eagles and sandhill cranes.  We saw a couple hawks and the cranes, and I’ve seen bald eagles here before.

While the prairie is interesting because it’s so different, take the time to explore the scrub and forest areas too.  We didn’t make it to the grass bluff on the other half of the loop, but the woods we did manage to check out were a bit different than the overgrown scrub areas I’ve been accustomed to.

It was a couple hours out of the way for us, but we’re glad we made the effort.  It’s an area worth checking out if you’re anywhere near Gainesville.

Click on any of the pictures to see larger versions.

 Looking back A little flower Prairie pool The walkway Got fern?

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