After a short drive from Flat Island Preserve, I reached the Trout Lake Nature Center. I wanted to hike this park and still have time to visit the Environmental Education Center before it closed at 4:00pm. The recommended route was only 1.4 miles. I signed in at the Center.
Not long after setting off from the trailhead on Lazy Oak Trail, I arrived at the Bobcat Walk, the first of several wooden walkways during the day. This part can sometimes be flooded, but at the time I was there it was very dry.
My second hiking trip from the book was actually three hikes of three parks in Lake County, near Leesburg and Eustis. I began with the longest and farthest hike from home at Flat Island Preserve, arriving just before noon. The recommended route was 3.7 miles along an entry trail and a perimeter loop trail. The morning was cool and sunny.
The hike began on a winding, wooded trail which soon reached the beginning of the loop (marked with an B sign). I turned left to walk the loop clockwise.
This was my first hike from the book. Ponce Preserve is in Ponce Inlet, a short 20-minute drive from my place. I set off on a late Sunday afternoon knowing that the suggested trail was only 1.6 miles long. The site lies on a strip of land between the Halifax River and the Atlantic Ocean so the trail was sandy with broken shells. The perimeter loop trail circles the historic Green Mound with extensions over boardwalks to the ocean and river.
For years I have wanted to hike more of Florida trails, either by day-hikes or by taking longer multi-day hikes. While I don’t intend to through-hike the Florida Trail, I have thought of hiking much of the Florida Trail in sections.
So in mid-January 2019 I bought the book 50 Hikes in Central Florida by Sandra Friend and John Keatley. This practical guide gave me information on the best places within driving-distance and the numbered hikes will serve as a checklist while I systematically work my way through the list. I am not going in order and I have not set any time limit to complete all of the hikes. But I will try to hike one or two of them each month.
The area of Florida covered by the book stretches from Daytona Beach (where I live) in the northeast, down to Palm Bay on the east coast, over to Tampa Bay in the southwest of the area, and up to Ocala as the northwest corner.