50 Hikes: #23 Geneva Wilderness Area

50 Hikes: #23 Geneva Wilderness Area

This is Hike #23 in the book 50 Hikes in Central Florida, completed on June 28, 2020.

After a short drive from the Lake Proctor Wilderness Area, I arrived at the Geneva Wilderness Area around 11:30 am. I ate a quick lunch in my car before starting the next hike just before noon.

50 Hikes: #23 Geneva Wilderness Area Trailhead

There were others approaching the trailhead with their dogs, so I quickly started down the trail ahead of them. This was going to be a short hike but I could tell that the trail was going to be crowded.

50 Hikes: #23 Geneva Wilderness Area

After less than ten minutes walking, the trail reached a lake with a fishing pier reaching out to the center. On the pier I stopped to have a look around and take photos (see first photo and above). The water was calm and clear. I noticed people waiting for me to finish, so I quickly headed back to the trail.

50 Hikes: #23 Geneva Wilderness Area

I continued on the Loop Trail which cut across a thin strip of land between the two lakes in the park. I stopped to take some photos of the larger of the two lakes, on the left of the trail (the lake the Loop Trail encircles).

50 Hikes: #23 Geneva Wilderness Area Chapel

Off to the left of the Loop Trail, a short side trail took me to an outdoor chapel. Here I explored a little before taking a short break in shade of the chapel itself.

I rejoined the main Loop Trail where many hikers and mountainbikers were walking, riding, and resting. I passed them and continued south, past a small canal. This was the end of the shady half of the hike. Also the last of other people, as it turned out.

50 Hikes: #23 Geneva Wilderness Area

At the southern end of the Loop Trail I emerged into an open and sunny area with a wide and sandy trail. For the next few hundred yards it was very hot and very hard walking in the thick, soft sand. At the junction of the Flagler Trail, I turned left to continue around towards the lake. There was a marked (detour) trail to the right—which wasn’t in the 50 Hikes book—so I continued straight to the lake.

50 Hikes: #23 Geneva Wilderness Area

At the lake the trail was flooded, so I skirted along the far right side of the trail trying to stay on dry land. I had to jump a few puddles of water and did get my shoes wet once. Just past the flooded trail, the detour trail rejoined the main trail and I realized I could have avoided the flooded section. No real harm done! I might let the authors know so they can update their book, however.

50 Hikes: #23 Geneva Wilderness Area

The trail followed the lake shore and provided views across to the chapel where I had rested earlier. This section was also very sunny and hot with no shade.

Past the lake, I soon arrived at the Ed Yarborough Nature Center. On the right side, there were man-made houses for both bees and bats. I took a rest and enjoyed reading about them. Unfortunately, it seemed there were no bees at home and I also did not see any bats in the middle of the day.

I was hot and thirsty and nearly done. There was just one short section of trail left, passing through a gate, and along a sandy road back to the trailhead. This 1.9-mile hike took just over an hour to complete. The temperature at the end was 89°F.

50 Hikes: #23 Geneva Wilderness Area MINI

I returned to my MINI, which was parked in the shade in its own little corral. I ate another sandwich before leaving the park just after 1:00 pm.

50 Hikes: #23 Geneva Wilderness Area Route

This was the second of two hikes on this day, my first was at the #22 Lake Proctor Wilderness Area.

Post-Hike Beer

My drive home would take me near Sanford, so I planned to have my post-hike beer at one of my favorite local breweries, Wop’s Hops. In the parking lot I changed my shirt, socks, and shoes. Inside I ordered a pint of their Tipsy Trip C American Wheat Beer and found a table in the restaurant side of the building. Unfortunately, since it was Sunday neither of the owners, Greg and Pete, were there. Even so, it was a cold and refreshing way to reward myself for finishing two hikes from the book in one day.

50 Hikes: #23 Geneva Wilderness Area Beer

50 Hikes: #22 Lake Proctor Wilderness Area

50 Hikes: #22 Lake Proctor Wilderness Area

This is Hike #22 in the book 50 Hikes in Central Florida, completed on June 28, 2020.

Lake Proctor Wilderness Area is located in east Seminole County, less than an hour drive from Daytona Beach. This was the first of two hikes on this day, so I arrived early around 9:15 am.

50 Hikes: #22 Lake Proctor Wilderness Area

From the trailhead I followed the Red Trail north, passing the Orange Trail and the Blue Trail. I intended to hike those trails on the way back.

50 Hikes: #22 Lake Proctor Wilderness Area

The Red Trail was a wide, shady trail and a perfect start to the day.

50 Hikes: #22 Lake Proctor Wilderness Area Painted Rock

Just before reaching the northern end of the Red Trail, I spotted a smooth white rock with the words “CATS UK” and a smiley painted on it. I assume it is from the Painted Rocks Game, but I did not try to look it up. I took a photo and left it where it was.

50 Hikes: #22 Lake Proctor Wilderness Area

At the northern intersection of the trail, I turned right and began the Red Trail Loop. When the trail split, I turned left to hike the loop clockwise. Almost immediately a blaze on a short post sent me into a bushy area with no clearly marked trail. I followed it around as best I could until I found another blaze on a post where it rejoined the normal trail.

50 Hikes: #22 Lake Proctor Wilderness Area Shelter

I continued through some tall scrub on a winding trail before coming into a clearing and arriving at a shelter. I perused the posted information while resting and drinking some water. Soon I was heading around the western point of the Red Trail Loop.

50 Hikes: #22 Lake Proctor Wilderness Area

Suddenly I heard voices behind me and wondered how someone might have caught me so soon after leaving the shelter. However, I arrived at a wide, sandy cross-trail where I saw three people on horseback approaching. I stopped and stood still to let them pass, although the lead horse did flinch a bit on seeing me. I briefly chatted with the riders as they passed and then continued on my way.

50 Hikes: #22 Lake Proctor Wilderness Area

The day was heating up and after a bit more hiking through the scrub, the book told me to follow the power lines road back to the top of the loop. This section was hot and sunny. But soon I reached the top, turned left, and walked toward the Blue Trail, passing the end of the Red Trail.

50 Hikes: #22 Lake Proctor Wilderness Area

Now on the Blue Trail, I came to another rain shelter. Again, I stopped to read the poster and have a few swigs of water. I knew that from here, most of the remaining trail was shaded and the most scenic of the hike.

50 Hikes: #22 Lake Proctor Wilderness Area

I hiked south and soon arrived along the shore of Lake Proctor. Patches of open, glassy water were broken up by groups of lily pads. A few structures could be seen on the opposite shore. It was very quiet and peaceful.

50 Hikes: #22 Lake Proctor Wilderness Area

The Blue Trail meandered along Lake Proctor, approaching the shore several times. At one point a short side trail cut through a field of tall flowers where several butterflies floated around me. Here there was also a Hydrologic Data Collection Site for the St. Johns River Water Management District.

The Blue Trail left the lake and ended at the Red Trail where I turned right. Very quickly I reached the Orange Trail and turned right, hiking back towards the lake.

50 Hikes: #22 Lake Proctor Wilderness Area

Near the southern end of Lake Proctor the Orange Trail passed through the Eastbrook Wetlands, named for the local school.

50 Hikes: #22 Lake Proctor Wilderness Area

The Orange Trail curved partway around the southern tip of the lake where I took my last glimpse (and photos) before walking the last section to reach the Read Trail again.

50 Hikes: #22 Lake Proctor Wilderness Area

Back on the Red Trail it was only a few minutes more until I hiked out around 11:20 am. The hiked lasted exactly two hours.

50 Hikes: #22 Lake Proctor Wilderness Area Route

This was the first of two hikes on this day. My second hike was at #23 Geneva Wilderness Area.

50 Hikes: #48 Enchanted Forest Sanctuary

50 Hikes: #48 Enchanted Forest Sanctuary Gopher Tortoise

This is Hike #48 in the book 50 Hikes in Central Florida, completed on June 20, 2020.

I wanted to get some minor work done on my car in Merritt Island, so I scheduled it early in the morning so that I could fit in one of two Titusville hikes from the book. I arrived at the Enchanted Forest Sanctuary a little before noon. Before finding the trailhead, I took a moment to have a look at a gopher tortoise living in an enclosure in the middle of the parking loop.

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50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest

50 Hikes: #43 Tiger Bay State Forest Pershing Highway

This is Hike #43 in the book 50 Hikes in Central Florida, completed on May 17, 2020.

Since March I have been eager to continue my hikes from the 50 Hikes book. State parks finally re-opened, so I picked an easy hike nearby to begin. After refreshing my knowledge of the two hikes in Tiger Bay State Forest, I headed out after lunch. The day was party overcast and a warm 82°F.

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New Year’s Day at Ponce Inlet

A few days before the end of the year (2019) my friend A. sent me a message saying she wanted to search for rocks and shells at Ponce Inlet on New Year’s Day. The weather was expected to be good, so we made plans. I met her at the shop where she dropped off her car for some work and we drove the twenty minutes down to Ponce Inlet. We climbed on the boulders, A. looking for rocks and me taking photos.

Ponce Inlet
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50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve

This is Hike #45 in the book 50 Hikes in Central Florida, started on August 22, 2019. Will complete at a later date.

Due to the hotter Florida Summer weather, I had not hiked in three months. But I had a day off and this park was nearby and sounded promising. I didn’t get a really early start, arriving to the park around 11:40 am after a 20-minute drive.

The book lists two hikes in the preserve. The first is Spruce Creek Bluffs, a 5.6-mile loop trail, which is what I did. The second is Spruce Creek Park / Rose Bay, a short out-and-back plus a loop, for another 2.6 miles. The total hiking distance is 8.2 miles.

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50 Hikes: #17 De Leon Springs State Park

50 Hikes: #17 De Leon Springs State Park

This is Hike #17 in the book 50 Hikes in Central Florida, completed on May 19, 2019.

I arrived at De Leon Springs State Park just before one o’clock to find the park was full, so I had to join the queue of cars waiting to get in. As cars left, the seven or eight cars ahead of me were let in. After waiting for about fifteen minutes I paid my $4 entrance fee and alerted the ranger that I would be hiking the Wild Persimmon Loop trail.

To reach the trailhead for the Wild Persimmon Trail you first have to walk up a short paved trail. From this trail, the book recommended taking a quick side boardwalk trail to see Old Methuselah, a bald cypress tree that’s more than 500 years old. So I did.

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50 Hikes: #19 Black Bear Wilderness Area

50 Hikes: #19 Black Bear Wilderness Area

This is Hike #19 in the book 50 Hikes in Central Florida, completed on April 22, 2019.

This hike was supposed to happen on Easter Sunday but it was changed to the next day. The thought was the trail might not be as crowded on a Monday. This turned out not to be the case. The Black Bear Wilderness Area trail is a single loop trail of 7.1 miles near Sanford, Florida. It’s recommended to hike the loop clockwise, saving the best views for the last half.

All of my previous hikes from the book had been solo. My companions on this hike were A. and her dog Freida.

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50 Hikes: #46 Lyonia Preserve

50 Hikes: #46 Lyonia Preserve

This is Hike #46 in the book 50 Hikes in Central Florida, completed on April 14, 2019.

My wonky left knee was bothering me before this hike, so I chose to make a short one. The book said the suggested hike in Lyonia Preserve was only 2.1 miles. It is a home for the Florida scrub-jay, the only species of bird endemic to Florida, so my goal was to spot (and photograph one). Another bonus was that there was an Environmental Center and the Deltona Regional Library at the trailhead.

I set off down the trail which passed behind the Environmental Center. At the first loop trail, I turned left onto the Rusty Lyonia Trail (orange blaze). Almost immediately I passed a den of Cub Scout Webelos coming the other direction. I worried there would be lots of others on this suburban trail, but they were the only people I passed.

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50 Hikes: #5 Hidden Waters Preserve

50 Hikes: #5 Hidden Waters Preserve

This is Hike #5 in the book 50 Hikes in Central Florida, completed on March 10, 2019.

I had already completed two hikes and arrived at my final park by 3:30pm. Hidden Waters Preserve is a small nature area surrounded by residential neighborhoods. The “hidden waters” is a marshy lake at the bottom of a huge sinkhole. The recommended hike was a 1-mile loop trail encircling the lake. More notable was the 105-foot elevation change from the trailhead down to the water’s edge.

After an accidental turn down a side trail which went out to the boundary of the preserve, I returned to the main trail that plummeted down to the loop trail. Here I turned left to follow the Ravine Trail, climbing up the bank clockwise around the lake.

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