It’s been more than a week since my sweet soujourn along the Suwannee River, but how I savored a morning’s walk on the Florida Trail past geological wonders I’d never before seen from this perspective. The Florida Trail Association’s North Florida Trailblazers chapter, and Alton Snellgrove in particular, have been working hard on establishing the Florida Trail along the south shore of the Suwannee River between Osceola National Forest and Little Shoals for some years now. I’ve greatly enjoyed the Little Shoals segment, but knowing there was something more has been tantalizing. And now, thanks to the special I-Did-A-Hike on Feb 7, more than 40 people were able to enjoy their own adventure through this amazingly scenic section, open through special agreement for the hike.
The approach is along old forest roads which lead you to the famed Big Shoals, right at the paddler’s portage trail. You can walk right down to the river and its rocks for an excellent perspective on the shoals. The trail clings to the bluffs, and affords views of the unusual limestone flowerpot formations just downriver from Florida’s own Class III rapids. Then it’s a traverse of scenic Robinson Branch Falls, well worth some time to scramble downstream for a good photo. The trail leads to the outflow of Bell Springs, where you can walk up and take a look at the spring, before it reconnects with the segment of trail that’s been in place for years, from Morrell Drive down to Little Shoals and beyond. That’s a favorite section of mine and I appreciated being able to take my time, thanks to the shuttle, and savor the views. I’m just sorry I missed so many people who started later than me!