This weekend I decided to go and check out Lettuce Lake and Flatwoods Parks. My friend Tara and I got an early start and were pleased with our first stop at Lettuce Lake.
At Lettuce Lake the oak canopy over most of the trail is just beautiful. The looped path is all paved and is heavily used by the local college students and teachers from USF. The park is just a few miles from the campus and seemed to be a favorite spot for many. Tara and I stuck mostly to the nature trails that zigzag in between the paved loop. We also went out on part of the boardwalk – a nice elevated path over the swamp/lake that offered lots of views. This boardwalk is not wide and they do not allow pets – I did not catch that part and Bo was with us….that was very much frowned upon.
We saw many varieties of mushrooms and fungus. There was a beautiful Easter Box Turtle along the path that let me get a photo. We saw lots of different grasses and flowers. Because of the heavy use of this park what birds we saw were not close, but they were present. There were a few neat spiders – but they were small and I was not able to get a clear photo of them to share. We did see animal tracks in the soft sugar sand on the nature trails.
After leaving Tara and Lettuce Lake Park, Bo and I went to Flatwoods Trail. The larger loop trail was entirely paved and full of bicyclist and joggers so I searched out the Nature Trail. The parks signs were not very helpful but I followed the road till it ended and parked on the right. Bo and I headed down the road to the right of where we parked and that took us along a pine forest. We saw a couple squirrels and lots of damage to undergrowth, probably from wild hogs. About a 1/2 mile the road ended with a shelter and we found the start of the nature trail! This part of the trail is called Flatwoods Park Trail 2. We were unable to walk the entire distance for 2 reasons – 1 was the weather and the other was bugs! I sprayed Bo and myself down good before going in but I do not think these bugs knew what bug repellent was! I stopped to take a quick photo of a gorgeous Red Shouldered Hawk that was posing right there for me and mosquitoes attacked – it was a swarm….so no photo. Bo and I picked up our pace and headed further into the forest. We were fine till we stopped moving and the bugs would head for us again! Ugh. Finally we came to the trailhead, and started out towards the left. There were lots of animal tracks! The trail appeared to be an unused dirt road. The tracks we saw were in the still moist mud and most were fresh. I was shocked at the size of the hog and deer tracks but my favorite find was bobcat! I had never come across a bobcat track before and I had to hurry home and look it up right away! We went on about 200 yards up the path and poor Bo was getting tore up by deer flies so we headed back. By this time we were both tired from outrunning bugs so when we got back to the shelter I got some water for us and looked down and there was bunny droppings….I know I am weird…I took a photo so show kids that I will take out later. Again the bugs! We hurriedly got out of that area and hit the paved trail to head back to the car. I was a great feeling to know what I can come back and see later….after bug season. I will put up the photos but know the Flatwoods album will remain incomplete until Jan or Feb….when the bugs are gone J