Is Fort De Soto park the best beach in the country?

Fort De Soto Park is a county-owned park in Pinellas County, and as county-owned parks go, it’s one of the most spectacular.

With a beach that regularly ranks in Dr. Beach’s completely arbitrary top 10 beaches in the country, a historic fort, kayak trails, fishing piers, an amazing campground and miles of hiking and biking trails, there is no shortage of things to do at the park.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fort De Soto has a sentimental place in my heart – it’s where I had some of my earliest and most memorable tent camping experiences.  It was also one of the closest wilderness areas to my childhood home, presenting a drastically different beach landscape than the nearby tourist-filled, condominium-lined beaches of St. Pete and Clearwater.

[Read more…]

Oh deer! A hike through Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve

I wrote recently about the Cedar Key Fishing Pier and the cool, somewhat-isolated, fishing town that it calls home.

I’m sticking with my assertion that kayaking and fishing are the things to do in Cedar Key, but if you’re itching to break in some new trailrunners, there’s a pretty sweet nature preserve nearby.

Thanks to Google Earth for the screen grab

The Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve, despite its forgettably bland name, is a rather interesting little slice of old Florida.  The park is mostly, as its name would imply, scrub and sand.  But it offers a great look at a piece of never-developed coastal Florida, a tragically rare thing nowadays.

[Read more…]

Video from Silver River in Ocala – Hiking, biking, kayaking, Oh yeah!

I’ve written about kayaking on Silver River in Ocala before, but I haven’t touched on any of the other cool things to do there.

I’ll hit on a few of them quickly, and I’ve put together a little video to give you the sense of what else is out there.

[Read more…]

Mosquitoes dine on poor hiker at Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve

I’ve been putting off reviewing this trail for a while now, mainly because of my problematic experience with the park, but alas, the time has come.

I hiked the trails at Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve back on July 4, in between the parade and firework spectacular in nearby Micanopy.  It wasn’t really a planned part of the day, more of a let’s-check-and-see-if-there’s-any-hiking-while-we’re-here kind of event.  The reserve was easy to find, and it has several miles of trails for hikers, bikers and equestrians.

There’s certainly some good things to say about the reserve – it’s easy to get to, it’s quiet, it’s free.  But dear heavens, the hiking is not enjoyable at all.

I’ll start by saying that the trail starts and ends at a single parking lot, and there’s a nice variety of loops that connect, so you can hike for as short as 1.5 miles or as long as 7 miles without repeating a trail, provided the trails aren’t flooded.

[Read more…]