Tate’s Hell Hike
October 23, 2010
After a wonderful morning spent at St. Marks checking out the migrating Monarch Butterflies our small group decided to drive about 45 minutes over to Tate’s Hell State Forest and hike the High Bluff Trail. It is part of the Florida State Forest Trailwalker Program – http://www.fl-dof.com/forest_recreation/trailwalker_index.html
It was a hot day to start a hike in the middle of the afternoon and not much shade on this trail but we were pleased by all the beautiful wildflowers and wild rosemary growing along the trail.
Not far from the first mile marker, Barbara pointed out he first Pink Sundew that I had ever seen. It is quite a beautiful plant, low to the ground and about the size of a dime. It was growing right in the middle of the trail!
Soon we were realizing how this trail got its name and we were heading up a very high bluff. To our surprise we were soon right in the center of the rarest habitat in Florida, a Florida Rosemary Scrub. The bushes were huge some over 6 feet and very rarely seen at this size. They were amazing to see, some had to be near 100 years old and this is rare as they are very prone to burning.
We saw many tracks on the trail, showing a wonderful variety of wildlife is still enjoying this wild protected place. We saw tracks of bobcat, coyote, turkey, deer, wild hog and bear!
There were lots of bear tracks (and scat) up near the 3 mile marker on one of the higher bluffs overlooking the estuary.
We found 2 varieties of beautiful red flowers that we still can’t identify and many other beautiful fall flowers serving up precious nectar for many insects and birds preparing for winter. As the day got cooler and the sun started sinking lower in the sky many songbirds came out to greet us. We spotted Pine Warblers, Wood Peckers, Tufted Titmouse, Blackbirds, Sparrows, and many others I cannot remember.
Fall is such a wonderful time to get outdoors and I look forward to many other hikes before the weather turns too cold.
If you are interested in this hike or for joining us on others please visit the following links:
Tate’s Hell State Forest: http://www.fl-dof.com/state_forests/tates_hell.html
Not a Clue Adventures: http://www.notaclueadventures.com/
Additional photos taken on this hike: http://cid-d8481b2b188e8808.photos.live.com/browse.aspx/Tate%5E4s%20Hell%20-%20High%20Bluff%20Trail