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.

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve

The Spruce Creek Bluffs area has trails for hikers, bikers, and equestrians. The beginning of the trail from the West Trailhead was used by hikers and bikers. After just a few minutes on the trail, I decided I would have to come back in the Fall with my mountainbike. Although there were lots of bike tracks, I could tell by the number of spiderwebs that no bikes had been there in the recent past.

The first ten or 15 minutes were pleasant enough. But soon I was swatting at the occasional horsefly. As I kept walking along the winding perimeter trail, the frequency of the horseflies increased. I soon reached Bailout A, the first of three connecting trails to the main Bluff Trail, used to quickly return to the trailhead.

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve

I continued north along the very winding perimeter trail. The amount of horseflies steadily increased to the point where I was exercising my arms nearly as much as my legs. I passed Bailout B with the brief thought of taking it. I optimistically trudged on. The conditions got worse so that when I reached Bailout C, I seriously considered abandoning the hike and returning to my car.

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve

I hadn’t quite reached the scenic bluffs, the main attraction of this hike, so I kept going. I was walking quickly, just trying to get trough this section. The view at Sunset Point was nice, but I wasn’t able to enjoy it. When I stopped walking for any length of time, the horseflies really swarmed. I had a quick look and snapped a few photos.

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve

At Sunset Point the perimeter trail meets the main Bluff Trail that goes back south. I headed down it hoping the conditions here would improve. They didn’t, at first. I don’t normally carry the 50 Hikes in Central Florida book with me, but on this day I was glad I did. I knew there were lots of crossing trails and there was the potential to take a wrong turn; I nearly did two or three times. The written directions in the book helped a lot.

The second half of the Bluff Trail got better. It was mostly shaded and the horseflies nearly stopped buzzing my head. After about 3.5 miles, I reached 6 Corners. As its name suggests, it was the juncture of six trails. I turned left and began the well-marked Overlook Trail. The horseflies returned and I actually jogged a portion of this trail to lessen the annoyance and complete it quicker. This trail reached Spruce Creek and provided two good overlooks of the river and marsh (see photo, at top).

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

After quickly enjoying the views, I continued on, wanting to finish this hike as soon as possible. The time was after 1:00 pm and the day was beginning to get warm. However, the most miserable part of the hike was still to come. The next segment was a trail along powerlines, which meant a straight trail in thick sand, in the hot sunshine, and still swarming with horseflies. Breathing harder here, I actually inhaled and swallowed a couple horseflies. Yuck.

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve

Here was another place I nearly missed my turn. There were two service/equestrian trails that went off to the right that I was not supposed to take. I passed them. But the second also included my needed perimeter trail which I passed. After checking the book and my hiking app, I turned around and found the correct trail. I was hot and exhausted at this point. Fortunately the final 3/4 mile was shaded and the horseflies abated. At the end, I had never been more happy to be finished with a day-hike.

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve

Sitting in my MINI, I cooled down and changed shoes and shirt. I looked in the rearview mirror, startled to see seven bloody dots on my forehead and cheek. Horsefly bites. I could only guess the number on my back. I did my best to wash off the blood. I also decided I was done hiking for the day, the second hike would have to wait until tomorrow.

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve Route

Post-Hike Beer

Since I was done hiking for the day, it was time to get my reward. I planned my return drive to pass by downtown New Smyrna Beach and a stop at New Smyrna Brewing. It was nearing 3:00 pm and I worried they might not yet be open. A quick search on my phone told me they opened at 3:00 pm. Perfect! I found the men’s room, washed my face and arms, found a corner bar seat, and ordered a flight of beers (numbered right-to-left).

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve Beer


The next day I motored down to Spruce Creek Park to complete part two of the hike. I was hopeful that conditions would be better closer to the coast. I was wrong. I found the trailhead and walked the long wooden boardwalk to the start of the trail to Rose Bay. However, as soon as I started down the sandy trail the horseflies swarmed again. Quickly deciding that I wasn’t putting myself through more torture, I turned around and returned to my car. I will return sometime in the Fall to complete this short hike.

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve

MINI JCW Coupe vs. Porsche Boxster


Porsche Boxster

If you know me or have browsed my website, you’ll already know that my most recent previous car (in addition to my older MINI Cooper) was a MINI John Cooper Works Coupe.  While I like the sporty, yet practical, hatchback MINI Cooper, I have always preferred the two-seat sportscar.  I don’t have a family or the need to haul many people or large items.  This preference is why I bought the MINI Coupe in 2011 and the Porsche Boxster this year (2019).  Despite the Porsche being a convertible, the two cars have several similarities.

Both cars are two-seaters and relatively small and lightweight.  They are true driver’s cars with excellent steering, handling, and braking.  Both cars employ active rear spoilers.  Both have excellent six-speed manual transmissions.  Although very different, the two cars each produce a distinct, aggressive engine noise; the MINI pops while the Porsche growls.  My Porsche 981 has the traditional flat-six engine, but the current Boxster 982 (and its hardtop sibling the Cayman) has a turbocharged four-cylinder like the MINI JCW.  The MINI JCW Hardtop and Porsche Cayman used to compete against each other in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge ST class until 2018.

The biggest difference is in the layout: the MINI JCW Coupe has its longitudinally-mounted engine up front, while the Porsche Boxster has a mid-engine configuration.  The MINI is front-wheel drive; the Porsche is rear-wheel drive.  Two different philosophies with each having its benefits and drawbacks.

Here are the numbers for comparison.

MINI JCW Coupe Porsche Boxster 981
Length 148.0″ (3,734 mm) 172.2″ (4,374 mm)
Width without mirrors 66.3″ (1,683 mm) 70.9″ (1,801 mm)
Width with mirrors 75.3″ (1,913 mm) 77.9″ (1,987 mm)
Height 54.5″ (1,384 mm) 50.5″ (1,282 mm)
Wheelbase 97.1″ (2,466 mm) 97.4″ (2,475 mm)
Weight 2,701 lb (1,225 kg) 2,888 lb (1,310 kg)
Engine and Transmission
Type and Displacement Inline 4 Cylinder
1,598 cm³
Flat 6 Cylinder
2,706 cm³
Power 208 hp @ 6,000 rpm 265 hp @ 6,700 rpm
Torque 192 lb-ft @ 1,850-5,600 rpm 207 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission 6-Speed Manual,
front-wheel drive
6-Speed Manual,
rear-wheel drive
Front MacPherson MacPherson
Rear Multi-Link Multi-Link
Front 12.4″ Ventilated Disc 12.4″ Ventilated Disc
Rear 11.0″ Ventilated Disc 11.8″ Ventilated Disc
Wheels and Tires
Wheels 17″ x 7″ Alloy – F
17″ x 7″ Alloy – R
18″ x 8″ Alloy – F
18″ x 9″ Alloy – R
Tires 205/45-R17 – F
205/45-R17 – R
Performance Runflat
235/45-ZR18 – F
265/45-ZR18 – R
Base Price (MSRP) New (With Destination Charge) $31,900 $50,450
Top Speed 149 mph (240 km/h) 163 mph (264 km/h)
(0-60 mph)
6.1 seconds 5.5 seconds
Fuel Economy (City/Highway/Combined) 25/33/28 mpg 20/30/24 mpg

[Sources: MINI USA website, MINI USA News, Porsche Boxster Owner’s Manual, Porsche Boxster Window Sticker.]