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 14, 2014

A Weekend at Florida's Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park

The largest park visited so far.   54,000 acres of "dry" plains with scattered hammocks and sloughs.  A birders paradise.  But, that's not all.  With its vast open space and zero light pollution this is an astronomer's dream.  And, did I mention hiking? 100 miles of open trails. Great for hiking, biking, and equestrian activities.

A long straight entrance road, Peavine Trail, into the preserve.  4.3 miles to the office/campground. Straight except for one 90º turn where it becomes Military Trail.

There are two campsite loops.  One titled family and one equestrian.  Some are loosely defined sites.

The family loop has 20 sandy level sites accommodating RVs and tents.  Mostly shaded and spaced enough for privacy.

 The sites in the equestrian loop.

They get a fancier site marker.

The equestrian loop corral.

Some of the visitors to the campsite:

This guy must have been somebody's pet dog in another life.  It literally followed  me around the site.  Almost got into the Trek one time as I began to enter.  There he was following me into the doorway.

One morning I woke up to these.  Birders.  Nice folks, though. Ran into them at various places throughout the day.

Due to recent rains quite a bit of water is standing in spots in the campground loops.  The sites themselves drain well, though.  But certain birds benefit.

Some of the Ibises at the site.

Hey, Tom, Thanksgiving is coming.

Off in another area this one is digging in.  Sand was flying.  Haven't a clue.  After a while the bird up and walked off leaving a shallow hole in the ground.

Huge crows were among the fowl in the park.  The camp hosts had a few interesting stories involving these birds and interactions with the campers.  Keep an eye on your stuff.  Very smart birds.

A Crested Caracara family.  I should have had a video of these two.  The object the female is picking up was given to the male who promptly devoured it.

 Hanging around the campground entrance.

Each morning this young buck and two young doe would feed in and around the campground.  In the afternoon they could be found up by the ranger's office.

One of the doe.


Across the parking lot at the ranger station a mound has been set up for astronomers.  Very nice raised grassy area with 10 stations that include an electric post for the telescopes and gear and a water tower for the astronomers.  Great setup.  No trees. No light pollution.  Looks like a couple of rain cells on the horizon.

First a warning before starting your hike on the many miles of trails.  You can add snakes, too.

Military Trail and Peavine Trial are the starting point of hiking over 100 miles of trails in the park.

Looking to the left and right of the trail gives one a good perspective of the vastness of the dry plains in the park.  Saw Palmetto abound...

 ...as does Lopsided Indiangrass.  Amongst all this is a myriad of other wildflower species.  The ranger stated that the beginning of fall is the best time to visit the park as the blooms are abundant.

The rain causing the great blooms in the park also prevented getting onto some of the trails, making it impossible to get to other trails as they interconnect.

In a tree along Military Trail was a Loggerhead Shrike.  Interesting species with regards to how it handles its food. In the desert it is called the Butcher Bird.

The same tree provides a perch for a Red-shouldered Hawk. Seeking its next meal?

Ah, a navigable trail.  The Peavine Trail that starts at the turn in the entrance road.

A small section of trail close to Seven Mile Slough is covered with running water.  Probably due to recent rain and not a common occurrence. Won't know until I return in the "dry" season.

Most of the trail looked like this and was navigable by bike for the most part.  A lot of the trails are soft sand and biking is difficult.  Definitely want a fat tire bike.

At the intersection of the South Pasture Trail was this trailer which provided a much needed place to sit a moment.  However, forgetting the fender of this trailer had been sitting in the sun, the sit-down was not without initial pain in the....

The Peavine Trail crosses the Seven Mile Slough, a very much wetland section of the park.  There are four named sloughs listed on the trail map.  They provide a wealth of water fowl, snakes, alligators, flora, etc.

While no alligator sightings occurred, these fresh tracks were observed when returning along one of the trails.  Evidence that "they're out there".

While setting up a shot of a bird these two young deer came out of the prairie grass.  They stood there not sure what I was and what to do.  Acting like a puppy dog wanting to come near, but hesitant, they stood there nodding their heads and flicking their tails.  Finally they wandered back into the reeds. 

At the equestrian corral the Military Trail converts to a grassy trail and continues a few miles to the Kissimmee River.  While traveling that trail I came across a wild pig rooting in the dirt for a meal. Nasty creatures.  Be wary.

Birds along the trails:

OK, and a butterfly.

And, one of these.  Actually, several.

Flora along the way:

Cat tails.  I haven't seen cat tails in a long time.  Used to light them to keep mosquitoes away when I was just a lad.

This is the entrance to the only trail that does not allow horses and bikes.  Foot traffic only.  No traffic today. I was most interested in this trail as it has bridges over wetlands.  When the water got to be calf deep I decided there could be snakes and gators along with that water.  Next visit might be drier.

Another path deep in water.

This is the way to travel in the wetland areas.  Ranger guided prairie buggy tours are held November to March.  I'll be back.

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