Alafia River State Park - Lithia, Florida March 19, 2010

Alafia River State Park - Lithia, Florida March 19, 2010

WHEN JANUARY CAME WITH ITS COLD WIND BLOWING WE DECIDED TO LOAD UP OUR HORSES AND HEAD TO FLORIDA FOR A COUPLE OF MONTHS TO BASK IN THE WARM SUMMER SUN.

FLORIDA BOOSTS MANY EQUESTRIAN FRIENDLY STATE PARKS, STATE FORESTS AND PRESERVES WITH MILES OF WELL MAINTAINED TRAILS. SOME OFFERED CAMPING FACILITIES FOR YOU AND YOUR HORSE.

ALAFIA RIVER STATE PARK WAS ONE OF THESE. WE PULLED INTO THE PARK ENTRANCE LOOKING FOR THE DAY RIDING PARKING LOT. THE RANGER GAVE US DIRECTIONS AND A TRAIL MAP. THIS LARGE PARKING LOT HAD PLENTY OF ROOM FOR TRAILERS. THE PARK ALSO HAD A CAMPGROUND WITH ABOUT 6 SITES FOR CAMPERS WITH HORSES.

WE SADDLED UP OUR STEEDS ON THIS WARM SUNNY DAY AND WITH MAP IN HAND HEADED OUT ON THE WELL MARKED TRAILS. THE 20 OR SO MILES OF SANDY TRAILS WERE WELL MAINTAINED AND WEAVED THROUGH A FOREST OF LIVE OAKS, PINE TREES AND ACROSS LARGE GRASSY AREAS. MOST OF THESE TRAILS WERE WIDE ENOUGH FOR THE DRIVING HORSE.

THE MORNING AIR WAS FILLED WITH BIRDS CHIRPING READY TO USHER IN SPRING. ON DOWN THE TRAIL A BROWN THRUSH FLEW INTO A LOW GROWING BUSH. ROUNDING A TURN IN THE TRAIL WE SPOTTED WHITE VERY WHITE SUGAR SAND AHEAD. RAYS OF SUNLIGHT CREATED A GLARE AND THE REFLECTION MADE OUR EYES SQUINT IN THE BRIGHTNESS OF THE SAND. AHEAD WE SPOTTED A HOLE IN THE SAND WHERE A GOPHER TORTOISE, AN ENDANGERED SPECIES OF TORTOISE INHABITING FLORIDA, HAD DUG OUT HIS BURROW WITH A NOSE THAT WAS WELL ADAPTED FOR SHOVELING.

THESE TRAILS PASSED NUMEROUS PONDS AND SMALL LAKES EACH WITH FAMILIES OF CROAKING FROGS. SMALL SNOWY WHITE WATER BIRDS CALLED IBIS WERE SEARCHING THE SHALLOW WATER FOR FOOD. LOOKING UP WE SAW A HAWK AS HE FLEW OVER THE WATER.

BIRD WATCHERS AND NATURE ENTHUSIASTS WOULD ENJOY THIS PARK!

SEVERAL WATER TUBS EACH WITH ITS OWN HAND PUMP OFFERING FRESH WATER FOR OUR HORSES.

SOON WE ARE BACK AT THE TRAILER. A GREAT RIDE!

SO LONG TIL WE MEET AT THE NEXT TRAILHEAD.

UNTIL THEN WE WISH YOU MANY “HAPPY AND SAFE TRAILS.”

BOBBIE AND LARRY

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