cypress knees

Silver Lake Recreation Area Brooksville Florida

Kiki and I in front of Silver Lake in Brooksville Florida after a 90 minute trek through scenic green woods - self-portraitVenturing far inland, Kiki and I went to Silver Lake Recreation Area in Brooksville, Florida seeking new trails and a deeper forest experience.  There were positives and negatives about this area of the Withlacoochee State Forest, but enough of the former so that I can recommend trekking there along the Low Water and High Water trails.

Silver Lake Brooksville Florida panorama - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/60th 3-shot panoramaUpon arriving at the area and paying the $2 entrance fee, the road funnels you right to Silver Lake.  There were almost no people around.  Dogs are allowed in all the day use areas, leashed of course, and even far out on the trail I kept Kiki leashed as well as sometimes an actual road would appear right in the middle of the forest with cars flying by.  

Amazing cypress tree grown into a natural arch in Withlacoochee State Forest on the Low Water Trail near Silver Lake - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 400 1/60thThe best find during our 90-minute 3.55 mile trek was this cypress tree.  It was enormous and its based formed a natural arch.  We stopped at the foot of this towering tree for water and a snack.

The view from the other side of the cypress tree looks other worldly - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 400 1/80thThe view from the back of the cypress tree offers an otherwordly look into the forest itself.  I did not dare pass through the arch for fear of coming out into another dimension.  Kiki showed no desire to pass through it either.

Cypress knees floating on greens in Withlacoochee State Forest Brooksville Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 400 1/60thSoft green grass grew throughout the forest floor providing an ethereal feel.  The beginning of the High Water trail is too close to I-75 with far too much noise pollution to help one lose thoughts of the human created world, however, once out on the Low Water trail, one could feel the age of the Withlacoochee Forest

Kiki is a very good outdoors-dog at home on the trails and in the forests - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 400 1/60thFinding out about these trails and how to get to them took some doing.  There is no good website to point you too (this one was a starting point at least), just basically search for Silver Lake Road in Brooksville Florida and Google Maps points you almost exactly at the park entrance.  From I-75 take exit #301, then make for Silver Lake Road.  

Morris Bridge Wilderness Park -- a brief survey

Fingers of the Hillsborough River winding through Morris Bridge Wilderness ParkI had an old memory of seeing otters playing in a river I visited long ago.  It took me a good few minutes to recall exactly where this was.  It was after all 10 years ago.  I traced the road in my mind and eventually I remembered it was just down, down Fletcher Avenue.  Using trusty Google Maps I confirmed it visually and only upon seeing the sign on the road driving up did I think, "of course, it's Morris Bridge Wilderness Park."

These large grasshoppers move very mechanically.Unfortunately, I saw no otters this time, but a number of other forest river creatures.  The above big grasshopper was not opposed to a lens being relatively close to its face, so I made this photograph using my Nikkor 105mm VR micro f/2.8 G lens and thanked it for its patience afterwards.

This frog was only half the size of my thumb.

The above small frog was king of this puddle.  It's driving me crazy wondering if that's a bottle cap in the lower part of the shot or not?  Maybe it's an acorn cap actually, I hope.  Walking along the Hillsborough River on the Bald Cypress Trail was only in spots muddy.  Otherwise there was all firm ground on a trail as close to the river as you could get, and at the same level of the water as well.  It makes this park pretty unique to me.

cypress knees look like organic futuristic cities to me

 There was the occasional kayak and canoe passing by.  Otherwise, it was an entirely peaceful hike along the river.  The only potential hazard was when Aya and Kiki nearly stepped right onto a snake!  I saw it at the last minute and grabbed Aya's shoulder letting the snake wake up and quickly and safely slither off.  It was a harmless garter-type snake though.  I wish I would have noticed it sooner so I could have gotten a photo of it!

a lazy baby alligator

It wouldn't be a trip into Florida wetlands without seeing an alligator.  The only one of the day was the above little fella that couldn't even bother to put his legs forward after crawling out of the river.  Aya said that he stared at her with a tough look.  To me he looked friendly.  

While the first part of the trail loop was along the main fingers of the Hillsborough River and narrow and at times muddy, the return portion of the loop was high and dry with views of the surrounding wetlands.  A nice contrast actually that made for a good hour and a half of forest time with a river running through it.

The high & dry return loop of the Bald Cypress Trail