The nature trail at Ladell Brothers Outdoor Environmental Center, North Florida Community College in Madison is a place for students and visitors to get away from it all in the midst of the college campus.
Starting off on a boardwalk across a cypress swamp, the trail enters the deep shade of a thick hardwood hammock. Signs identify enormous trees, and numbered posts correspond to the interpretive guide.
At the trail junction, choose your route. Two loops lead through the dark hammock along the edge of cypress swamps; the third works its way around one end of the Wood Duck Pond. Frequent benches make it an easy hike for all ages. Despite the trail’s proximity to campus buildings, you feel like you’re in a different world—and you will see wildlife.
Length: 1.8 miles of hiking divided up into three interconnecting loops; shortest possible loop hike is 0.5 mile.
Lat-Long: 30.475300, -83.422700
Fees / Permits: none
Bug factor: Moderate
Restroom: At the Hamilton Library
Open sunrise-sunset. Stop in at the Hamilton Library to borrow a pair of binoculars and browse through their field guides before walking over to the trail system.
Follow US 90 west from Madison to the entrance to North Florida Community College, on the north side of the road; park on campus near the Hamilton Library.
It’s a little tricky to find this hike. From the Hamilton Library, orient yourself with the gazebo near the staff parking area. From the gazebo, walk between the Student Success Center and Building 5 (Biology) and along the edge of the Wood Duck Pond. The trailhead is hidden in the trees in a direct line back from the water’s edge.
There are interpretive guides and maps available in the box at the trailhead. If missing, consult the large map sign located at the first trail junction.
If you bring your barbecue gear, you can make good use of the picnic tables and grills tucked back in the forest.