This is Hike #49 in the book 50 Hikes in Central Florida, completed on December 27, 2021.
The weather was unseasonably warm during the last week of December, so I decided to complete two more hikes from the 50 Hikes book. I woke up early and made the long drive south to Melbourne. I began my hike around 10:00 am.
The first section of the trail was winding and uneven, and crossed a short wooden bridge.
At the first junction, an overhanging tree contained a hive and was buzzing with bees. I stopped to watch the activity for a moment, but could not capture it properly in photos (top-right corner, below).
I turned right to continue the hike, stopping with my first glimpse of the Indian River Lagoon. A group of five or six hikers were quickly walking the trail behind me, so I allowed them to pass.
This trail edged along the lagoon to a loop trail to the north. At a fork, I turned right. Around the next bend was a small, non-native stuffed rhinoceros wedged in a palmetto.
This loop trail emerged into a sunny clearing and circled a small pond.
Leaving the pond, the trail headed to the shore of the Indian River Lagoon. Signs warned of alligators. I stayed on alert but did not encounter any. The trail came literally to the water’s edge and this area was the most scenic, with views across the lagoon in several spots (see photo, at top).
I returned to the first junction near the buzzing bees. The suggested route continued straight ahead along a double-track trail that connected to the southern section of the sanctuary. Crossing a bridge to the left, the trail plunged back into the marsh. Another signed warned of alligators.
I saw no gators. I saw evidence of gopher tortoises, but did not spot any of those, either. I did spot a boardwalk which took me to the overlook of a brackish brown pond.
I returned to the trail to complete the final section. At the end, the trail emerged from the hammock at the south trailhead.
From here, I had to walk up a paved bike path along A1A to the north trailhead where I began my hike. Fortunately, the morning was still cool.
I finished the 3.3-mile hike a little after 11:30 am.
This was the first of two hikes on this day. My second hike was at #50 Turkey Creek Sanctuary.