Saturday, April 22, 2017
Black Bear Wilderness Area - Sanford, FL - 4/22/2017
This was our longest hike to date! It was a total of 7.1 miles, definitely a more moderate level hike, and pushed our limits. However, it was definitely fun and one we would do over again. This hike took us a total of 4 hours to complete (including our stops for breaks and lunch). Make sure if you are doing the full loop that you have plenty of time, water, snacks and lots of bug spray! If you don't have 3-5 hours to do the full loop there is a 2 miles option (1 mile to the river and back). This track is popular and does have lots of animals to see along the way.
There is a free trail map at the beginning. If you are doing the full loop I would highly recommend grabbing one so you can keep track of all the mile markers.
All the boardwalks are numbered so you can keep track on your map. The funny thing to me was the no horse signs. When you are on this trail you will understand that there is next to no way to have a horse on this trail without it getting injured (in my opinion, and I could be wrong).
Our daughter is teething so she spent most the day trying to chew on the carrier.
As you can see there are lots of roots on the ground so please be careful.
About a half a mile in there was an opening and you could see the water on both sides leading out to the St John's River.
At this point you can see the water plant and other infrastructure in the area.
We came across some wild Boar (A mom and her babies). We made sure to stay a good distance away while taking video and photos. They babies were so cute, they were running and playing with one another!
This is the end of the one mile part to the trail. It dead ends into the St John's River. You can turn around here is you want to or continue on the full 7 mile loop, which is what we did. At this point in the hike the trail gets really narrow and follows the St John's for a few miles before returning back into the woods. The trail is elevated, very similar to the beginning of the one mile part, and has a lot of tree roots. The other obstacle this trail has is that it goes around tree and debris at a some times steep angle. SO if you are not great with balance this may be a good time to get out your hiking stick for stubility.
Every half a mile there are signs marking your east location in case of an emergency.
As you can see there are times where you will have to go around trees that seem to grow right in the middle of the trail. Just be slow and take your time going around them.
This boardwalk actually had a canoe/kayak launch and dock. It was extremely dry so there wasn't water around it but when the water levels rise it'll be great to use.
Two miles and it's time to switch off! Jeff took over the camera while I took over carrying our daughter for the next 2 miles.
It may be hard to see but there's a small gator there (in the middle). He was just relaxing in the shallow water.
At about 3-3.5 miles in there is a primitive campsite. It has a picnic table and pavilion. There wasn't any campers there but many fellow hikers used this to take a lunch break form the 7 mile hike.
Along the way, while crossing a bridge, we look dover and there were two Heron eating bugs. They didn't see us, so we stayed quiet, took photos and video of them in their natural habitat. The birds were so neat to watch as they just walked around hunting for bugs.
By this point we saw an Otter, which was quite large. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a picture in time before it swam off into the water. Maybe next time.
At this point Jeff and I switched once again, and he put Jolene and the carrier back on his back while I took control of the camera. Up to this point we say a lot of animals and crossed paths with a few fellow hikers. One of those people showed us a picture of a Pigme Rattlesnake they saw on the trail ahead. Many snakes and bugs are out right now because of the drought we are currently having. So please be mindful when walking and make sure to look down and all around.
The trail really started to become more strenuous at this point. Lots of ups, down, turns, and roots. It was definitely more challenging at this point.
I still found it funny that there were "no horse riding" signs. I still cant see how you could even think of having a horse on this section of the trail.
We finally hit a point where the trail was not as difficult as it was the prior few miles. We kept wondering why everyone was hiking the trail in the opposite direction, and now we know. The end of the trail is the hardest part. It has the most ups and down, and takes the longest. The next time we do this trial e will be going backwards as well, so that way we get thru the hard parts while we are fresh and ready to hike, rather than half exhausted.
Atop all of the big poles we would see here and there we would see these large birds nests.
By mile 6 we were getting exhausted and ready for a snack. Thankfully the trail got really flat and wide. This and fit much easier not he legs for a mile.
By this point the trail started to pick back up again a little. The trail got a little thinner and some roots were visible once again, but it was so pretty with all the boardwalks in the woods.
When we hit the boardwalk #1 again we knew the end was in site. The hike was amazing, very exhilarating, and definitely pushed our limits. I am so glad we tested our limits and did this hike. We can't wait to make anther day of it and try this hike out once more.
For videos form our hike please visit us on YouTube at:
UNTIL NEXT TIME, KEEP ON HIKING!
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