Catfish Creek State Park is in an area of Florida called the Lake Wales Ridge: a long elevated strip of land in central Florida with elevation peaking at 312 feet on Sugarloaf Mountain. Originally, the ridge was a series of "sand islands" over a million years ago, when most of the rest of Florida was actually underwater. Much of the Lake Wales Ridge has unaltered, conserved scrub habitat, which is essential for the areas dozens of endangered plants and animals, such as the sand skink, gopher tortoise, and scrub jay. On this hike, you'll scramble up to some of the region's highest hills, with their dazzling bright sand, as well as drop down into shady depressions where lakes abound. Additionally, you'll visit the site of an old sod farm and get to see some of the remaining structures - if they're still there by the time you're reading this. This hike occurred on Saturday, July 16th, 2016. My plan was to begin hiking the long loop counter-clockwise, before taking the medium loop connector across to the other side of the loop. From there, I would begin hiking the long loop in the clockwise direction, but not for long - I would then hike out and back the side trail to the sod farm ruins. After this, I would hike the long loop to the medium loop connector, and after hiking the connector for a second time, I would hike the remaining section of the long loop.
Anhingas. Egrets. Alligators. You'll see them all on this spectacular hike through a ranch-turned-preserve near the shores of Lake Hancock and just outside of the Lakeland city limits. Circle B Bar Reserve, renowned throughout Florida for its spectacular photo opportunities, attracts flocks of hikers every day to see the wildlife on its trails. The hike begins in a hammock with huge live oaks, before following the shore of Lake Hancock, where alligators shuffle into the water to the left and right. The hike then passes through wetlands where wading birds are in abundance (as well as more alligators) before passing an old windmill and returning to the trailhead. This hike occurred on Saturday, July 2nd, 2016. My plan was to make an outer loop through Circle B Bar Reserve's Trail System, as follows. First, I would take the Shady Oak Trail to Lake Hancock, where I would follow the Alligator Alley Trail past a lake observation area and along the shores of the lake. Then, after leaving the lake, I would take the Eagle Roost Trail along the southwest boundary of the preserve. There, I accidentally did the out and back along the Circle B Bar Connector Trail, although I didn't regret it. Lastly, I would take the Wading Bird Way to the Windmill Whisper Trail, before using the Treefrog Trail to finish the hike.
Year 1: 540.0 Miles
Year 2: 552.3 Miles
Year 3: 518.4 Miles
Year 4: 468.7 Miles