A few days before this hike, my friend Olga sent me a text message asking me to pick a hike for the weekend. We had previous hiked the St. Francis Trail together and really enjoyed it. In August 2019 I had hiked Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve, but that day was hot and miserable due to horseflies. Back then I knew I wanted to hike it again during a cooler time of year. So I suggested this hike to Olga.
I picked up Olga at 11:30 am and we made the short drive to New Smyrna Beach. We parked at the trailhead and I changed into my hiking boots while Olga packed her backpack. The weather was sunny and cool. We set off down the Bluff Trail at 12:20 pm.
We walked north for a couple of miles on the Bluff Trails. Mountainbikers also use this trail and we had to move to the side a few times to let them pass. At one point we heard a rustling in the underbrush just ahead. As we slowly crept forward, we discovered we had come up on an armadillo foraging in the leaves. Olga was able to get very close before it noticed her and scampered off into the brush.
After 2.3 miles we reached Sunset Point, an overlook over Spruce Creek. There were several people there, so we climbed down the trail to the bank of the creek. It was pretty and peaceful so we took some photos and video.
As we climbed back up the hill, I thought I heard Olga ahead of me say something in Russian. When I reached the overlook, she was speaking Russian to a group of people, one of them her old friend. They spent a while catching up (in Russian and English) before they left on their bikes and we continued down the Bluff Trail.
We had a long, straight, downhill hike to 6 Corners. From there we took the Overlook Trail which headed east back towards Spruce Creek. There were two overlooks on this section.
At the last overlook I gave Olga the option to walk back down Overlook Trail to 6 Corners and a short hike to the exit, or continue the loop around to the trailhead. She wanted to keep going.
The trail descended to a wide, sandy trail along some power lines. Again we heard rustling in the brush to the left of the trail. Louder than before. We stopped, listening, wondering what it could be. Then we heard snorting/oinking. There were one or two boar hiding in the brush. Wild boar can be aggressive, so I recommended that we move on down the trail.
The trail joined a sand road and we continued up it until we reached our junction where the trail went back into the woods to the right. However, on the left side of the road Olga noticed four horses on the other side of a small fenced pen. When they saw us, they ran up the fence. Olga had a banana and I had some spare Chex, so we fed them a small snack. They let us rub their noses and pet their necks. They were pretty animals and very gentle.
Suddenly, a FedEx truck sped by and scared the horses which ran back across the field. So we set off again.
We had one final shady section to hike back. At the corner of the preserve we could view a building next door with a very large hole beside it, a plastic liner covering the bottom. We figured out a pond was being built next to the building, a wedding and event venue. People were arriving for a wedding that day. We moved on; the trail paralleled the road we had driven in on and we arrived back at the car around 3:30 pm.
We were hungry and ready for the traditional post-hike beer, so we headed to New Smyrna Beach Brewing. The Feeding Frenzy 5K race was taking place, so there were hundreds of people on Canal Street and the surrounding area. Nevertheless, we found a nearby parking place and walked to the brewery. We got food from Yellow Dog Eats and ate it while enjoying our beers at the brewery bar. When we finished eating, we carried our beers outside to watch the final runners and walkers cross the finish line.
Driving home through Port Orange, Olga suggested we stop in at Dunes Brewing. So I headed there. We ordered beers and went to play several games. We competed in table hockey, table shuffleboard, and pinball.