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  1. #1
    Senior Member Damifino's Avatar
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    Florida Trail - Suwannee River

    Over the weekend I sectioned a bit of the Florida National Scenic Trail along the Suwannee River between White Springs and a private camp/park called the Spirit of the Suwannee.

    I posted an EveryTrail GPS log here --> EveryTrail Link

    This was a great hike and hang. I picked up a shuttle to the Stephen Foster State Park entrance from a canoe outfitter in The Spirit of the Suwannee --> Suwannee Canoe Outpost





    The first section was through Stephen Foster State Park and offerd great views of the river from high sbove its bank. It is typically a 3-4 story embankment down to the water, The trail is literally on the very edge.









    The difficulty with this trail is the branch creeks that flow into the river. There is a small ravine for each that you have to cross to continue on along. The ravines usually are a 20-30' steep grade with about 5-10' of washout that you have to "figure out". Most of them are dry most of the time and many have small bridges to help you across the washout.

    Crossing at Sal Marie Branch has a foot bridge:



    The river shoreline is often a soft white sand "beach". You can see private residences on the opposite bank from time to time. (actually at times you cross through the back yards of some).



    The Crossing at Swift Creek is VERY COOL - a rickety bridge over a deep, narrow ravine with rapids - about a 2 story drop to the water.













    You cross under Interstate 75 - I guess they can't build a gate into the highway corridor so they constructed a hiker's ladder over the fence on each side. An interesting circus-act with a pack on.









    I took a swim and made camp a few miles past I-75. I decided it would be cool to cowboy camp my hammock so I opted to not put up my tarp. There was zero chance of rain this weekend. I was exactly right. It was very cool, in fact it was downright cold. I only had a fleece blanket and sleeping under-pad for insulation and discovered that the nights in North FL are now on the brisk side. A little sleeplessness was all the cost - so no great harm. The area I camped is called Jerry Branch. It was perfect.









    The sunrise over the river was stunning!



    Thic picture is blurry (cell phone camera kept in my sweaty pocket) but it is some trail-crew's idea of a sick joke. The trail climbs up a steep (loose gravel) ravine bank at Jerry Branch. They have attached a cable to haul yourself up (hand-over-hand). Believe me, you NEED the cable.



    Another branch crossing, I forget the name.



    One of the residences placed a nice gazebo and picnic table on the trail for hikers. I guess it somewhat makes up for the other thoughtless a$$ resident that let their dogs run free. Scared the $hit out of me - sorry no pictures of the dogs barking and growling at me, I was movin' on down!



    The wood/cable suspension bridge at No Name Creek (the real name). This was cool but had a weight limit posted of 250#. It's not hard to be 250 with a pack and you're sure as heck not turning around. I bet it'll do 300 easy! HA!





    Some more views of the river.





    The guy that shuttled me from Canoe Outpost told me of a different walk back (from the trail to the Outpost) that avoided road-walk. GREAT advice. This route crossed the river on an abandoned road and bridge - really looks like old-time Florida. Then takes an equestrian trail directly to my truck in thier parking lot.





    This was a FANTASTIC 2 days covering 22 (+/-) trail miles. Some if the hiking was very difficult but it was not that way for long stretches. The trail was in decent condition but showed very little use. I had to bush-wack through saw palmettos to get around some downed trees but thats pretty normal. Water is available wherevere the trail gets down close to the river. The river water is tannic-stained to a chocolate brown but it filtered (and treated) into a tea colored brew that tasted and smelled like "normal" water. I think the Katadyn treatment tablets make water smell and taste like our tap water at home so I am very comfortable with them.

    I would do this hike again an a heartbeat!
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Damifino; 09-22-2010 at 17:53. Reason: fix grammar and spelling + fix html link

  2. #2
    Duffy's Avatar
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    Nice trip report, thanks! One of my favorite sections of the FT.

  3. #3
    mbiraman's Avatar
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    Great trip report and pics, i love seeing places that are real different to my area. Really liked the old road back, very relaxed lookin. Thanks for sharing. Are there crocs in that river??
    " The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it."

    “The measure of your life will not be in what you accumulate, but in what you give away.” ~Wayne Dyer

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  4. #4
    Senior Member Can't Wait's Avatar
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    Nice looking trip

  5. #5
    Senior Member Damifino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbiraman View Post
    Are there crocs in that river??
    There are no crocodiles in this area of Florida. There are some down by the keys, they are very rare and endangered. There are alligators here but very few compared to other wet places in FL. I live in a very urban area of FL in a subdivision-neighborhood and we have aligators in the pond behind the house.

    I saw no alligators or poisonous snakes at all on this hike. I don't think the spring-fed, tannic-stained water holds many fish so a large animals, like gators, do not thrive in there. I am sure there are some, just not abundant. There are places in S. FL where BIG gators lie across the trail to catch the sunshine. It's a bit disturbing.

  6. #6
    Poppabear's Avatar
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    Nice trip report thanks for sharing. Your pictures bring back fond memories of when I used to live in Flordia.
    Terry

  7. #7
    Senior Member Cannibal's Avatar
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    That was one of my favorite sections of the FT!
    Nice to see pics again, thanks.
    Trust nobody!

  8. #8
    MAD777's Avatar
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    Great trip report! thanks for all the pictures and detailed narratives. I've got to get up there this winter and hike that one!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Buffalo Skipper's Avatar
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    Great trip!

    I took some scouts on the caneoing river August a year ago from above Big Shoals all the way to the state park (60 miles). It was a great time for all. The preceeding January we had 2 groups, one hiking the section from Spirit of Suwannee to the state park and the younger guys doing day hikes. That area is quite nice.

    We call the filtered water "Suwannee Tea." I don't recall it tasting even remotely like tap water, in fact, it still had the bitterness of watery, unsweetened tea, from the tannin. Also, I have read blogs and seen pics of crocs on the Suwannee. They are uncommon, but not entirely unusual. Also by as far upstream as the state park, Gulf sturgeon are a highly sought after fish. These are a very large fish indeed. They spawn in the area around where the Suwannee and Withlahoochee merge, just a few miles downstream from the Spirit of Suwannee campground.

    Great area and a good read. Thanks.
    “Indian builds small fire and stays warm, white man builds big fire and stays warm collecting firewood”—unknown

    “The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea”—Karen Blixen

  10. #10
    Whoooo Buddy)))) Shug's Avatar
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    Fun to see your trails.....
    How cold was cold .... by FL standards?
    I ask as I reside in Minnesota.
    Thanks for posting.
    Shug
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