I’d been planning to pick up this 5.5 mile segment in the Ocala National Forest and the Cross Florida Greenway for years, but only took care of it this week with help from my friend Bob (LWOP) Coveney.
Bob and his wife Bonnie live the RV lifestyle and are hanging out in the forest; we’ve been getting out and hiking a lot together, which makes shuttling easier for both of us.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of this section. Knowing, from the roads, you see floodplain forests, I figured on getting my feet wet. Not so.
For much of the route, the trail sits atop a berm created by the construction of a portion of the Cross Florida Barge Canal back in the 1960s.
I remember the fuss over the canal when I was a kid and the sense of relief when the project was scuttled by President Nixon.
While I’m no Nixon fan, I deeply appreciate his intervention here AND at Rainbow Springs, which he signed off on as a National Natural Landmark back in the day.
Standing tall above this orphaned segment of canal, you can watch cormorants splashing in the water catching fish and hear the buzz of motorboats go past.
Most of the surrounding forest is planted pines, which the trail drops down into to skirt a fenced off area that now contains the Rodman Campground.
Since it has a bathhouse and potable water, it’s a good alternative to the campground on the south side of the Buckman Lock, which has a portalet and no water. Plus they are charging $7 a night. Why not pay a little extra for a shower?
The trail continues through wet flatwoods to reach the Kirkpatrick Dam at Rodman Reservoir.
I stepped right past a black racer and missed it entirely. Bob beckoned me back to take a picture but one step and I spooked the snake. Ah well.
It was a good hike anyway, but entirely too short. We had time to do a second hike I’ll write about later.