Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park is one of Florida’s oldest state parks. It was developed in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. You can read more about the CCC here: https://www.history.com/topics/great-depression/civilian-conservation-corps. They helped build many of Florida’s state parks from 1933 through the beginning of World War II.
Springer to Woody Gap
Thanks to amazing friends, I have the first tiny section of the Appalachian Trail done. This was just enough to get a little taste of the trail, an appetizer, an aperitif, a tidbit.
There are so many YouTubers and Instagram personalities out there that romanticize backpacking and long distance hiking. I’m here to tell you, sometimes it’s ugly, mean, and downright painful. It is not all beautiful mountains and sunshiny wildflowers. I’m from Florida. You know what we don’t have here? Hills. Our highest “mountain” stands at 345 feet on Britton Hill. Three hundred and forty-five. That’s barely an ant hill. I did some hiking in the Colorado Rockies. Those are mountains. What I experienced in Georgia was mild compared to the 14,000 feet of elevation out west, but it was still pretty brutal for this flat lander.
Summertime Florida Hiking
It’s getting hot out there. Hiking in Florida in the summertime can be a dangerous idea if you’re not prepared. There are so many elements that seem as though they’re out to get you. It’s alligator mating season from April through June. Lovebugs abound in April and October, though they’re just annoying and not dangerous. Yellow flies start becoming super annoying around the middle of May, and their bites hurt! Mosquitos are quite wide awake now and they’ll want to have a snack on your blood when you hike in shady, damp areas. Okay, actually they’ll want to snack on you no matter where you hike in summer in Florida. Noseeums swarm and attack with their teeny tiny blood sucking mouths in any area close to the shore, particularly at dawn and dusk. We have mad thunderstorms just about every afternoon. We have truly earned the title of Lightning Capital of the World. All of that, and I haven’t even mentioned the risk of sunburn, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Sharing the Trails with Alligators
If you hike near water in Florida, chances are pretty good you’re going to see an alligator at some point. Those of us who are on the trails a lot are used to it, but it can be scary if you haven’t had much experience sharing the trails with these reptiles. Something that’s important to remember is that a healthy, wild alligator will most likely want nothing to do with you; so the best course of action is to just ignore them and let them go on their way. Alligator attacks in Florida are extremely rare. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission there have only been twenty-four fatal alligator attacks in Florida since 1973. Statistically, you’re more likely to be killed by a cow than you are an alligator.