Visiting Florida's state parks and beyond in our Roadtrek. This is how we saw it all. Hopefully, the posts will give you some useful information. Questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Weekend at Florida's Oscar Scherer State Park


Oscar Scherer State Park is great for hiking enthusiasts and birders.  There are 6 trails ranging from about one half mile to 5 miles.  The five mile trail can be altered to 2 miles or 3.5 miles if 5 seems a bit long.  One trail is touted as bikeable, but there are areas of soft sand to contend with. Eagles, Osprey and Scrub Jays inhabit the area. I've come to the conclusion to photograph the Scrub Jays one must have a long lens, the patience of Job and a lot of luck. Maybe some bird feed, although feeding any of the wildlife is verboten.

  The campsites are pretty level with a few exceptions and are packed sand/gravel mix. The main loop is paved, the sites are mostly back-in.  There is a small dirt road leading to the Green Trail that has 4 sites. This site is one of those.  Virtually no vehicle traffic on this little leg off the loop.

  The path leading to the South Creek, then to the Nature Center and Lake Osprey. Off to the right is an overlook with a picnic table and bench to view the creek.  Fishing is done from the bank left of the bridge.  Some fished from the bridge.

The bank of the South Creek where some fishing is done.  This was taken in the morning at low tide.  A creek has tides?  This one does as we are so close to the Gulf of Mexico the level of the creek is effected by the Gulf tides.  In the afternoon the sandbar is about 2 feet under water.

On the Green Trail. Depending on your choice at the "Y" you can make it a 2 mile hike or a 3 mile hike. Biking is possible on this trail, but there are areas of sugar sand and it is hard going. This is a Scrub-Jay habitat.  Also, there is a huge Eagle's nest on the trail.

The Green Trail is full of scrubby flatwoods and mesic pine flatwoods. This is a former controlled burn area and is restoring itself to scrubby flatwood.  Very little tree canopy in this area of the park. 

More of the Green Trail. The trail is easy walking as it is mostly cleared.  A lot of plant life along the way and butterflies galore. 

Along the Blue Trail.  While the trail is open the sand is like walking on a beach. This trail is 1.5 miles and for a while runs parallel to the paved Rails-to Trails, Legacy Trail, section that is inside the park.  That is a straight shot, 5.1 mile bike ride. 

Most of the Blue Trail is bordered by scrubby flatwood.  Good for Scrub-Jays, but not for hikers.  No tree canopy except when you are on the last quarter of a mile.  Spotted a few black snakes and wild boar.

The Blue Trail started out dry and sandy, but as I approached the juncture of the Blue Trail and the Red Trail the results of recent rains became apparent.  The Red Trail loop goes straight or left, but in either direction was impassable.  The Red Trail can be either 1.5 miles or 2 miles.

The Yellow trail starts out much like the Blue Trail; soft sand, no tree canopy.  This can be a 5 mile journey, a 3.5 mile journey, or a 2.5 mile journey depending on what your decision is at a "Y" about a quarter mile into the hike. I took the 5 mile option.  This is a remote part of the park and provides a lot of tree canopy...and insects. Take spray and water.  The 5 mile hike took roughly 3 hours, stopping to take photos, etc.

There are 10 numbered benches along the trail.  I think the mosquitoes wait for a hiker to sit and rest. Take bug spray.  Make it a quick rest.  Recent rains made this part of the trail impassable. The wild boars had a hay day in the muck. I ventured back a way, but decided it looked too much like gator country back there so I retreated.

A meadow along the Yellow Trial.

The 5 mile version of the Yellow Trail provides a variety of scenery and is probably the best trail to hike to see the varying terrain of the park. 

Towards the end of the Yellow Trail you pass by Big Lake.  There is a raised, shaded look-out with benches for stopping and observing the scenery.

There are two short trails that follow South Creek to Hwy 41, the entrance of the park.  The paths are clear, but narrow on the first, the half mile South Creek Nature Trail. Wandering through a hardwood hammock the trail offers plenty of shade and a good view of South Creek, now getting wider and deeper as it passes the campground, and a lot of different plants and trees.

At the end of the nature trail is a large park that has pavilions, grills, benches, restrooms, play ground and game area, and a pier for fishing and launching kayaks.  Used primarily for day visitors.

Kayak storage at the park/marina.

The blackwater stream gets wider and deeper as it approaches Dryman Bay and the Gulf.  Kayaking is limited to Hwy 41.  I've heard getting back upstream from the Gulf is rather difficult.  It is such a contrast at this end of the creek compared to its size along the Yellow Trail.  There South Creek looks like a small tributary to a larger creek. 

Continuing along the creek from the park is the half mile Lester Finley Trail.  This trail is barrier-free for those with disabilities. Part is paved and part is very hard-packed dirt.

There are also audio boxes along the path that explain the various aspects of the different habitats. There are two butterfly gardens, a handicapped equipped fishing pier, benches, and a fountain on this trail.

One of many tributaries flowing into the creek. 


Back at the campsite area is Lake Osprey and the beach.  Signs warn of alligators.  Swim at your own risk.  Do you think the kids cared?

The Nature Center is small, but growing.  In the foreground is a small touch display of skeletal remains of local inhabitants.  Something for the kids to enjoy.  There are two video loops going describing the history and park area, lots of artifacts on display and two dioramas depicting the local critters in there natural state.  Soon there will be an aquarium showing the local fish, turtles, etc.  There are guided tours of the park areas and always someone to answer questions at the center.

The following are a few photos of the plants and other along the trails:

Gopher Turtle home on the Yellow Trail.  Rattlesnakes often occupy these holes.

1 comment:

  1. Crazy kids! But they're probably crazy enough they scare off the alligators! ;)
    One of your photos shows what looks to be beauty berries - a plant I bought and put in my garden because those berries are so beautiful!