On Saturday, I took a quick trip out to Salt Springs to visit with Captain Pat Needham and his new outfitters, Buck N Bass, and decided to take a different route home because of the smoke from the Juniper Prairie Wilderness fire.
Horseshoe Lake Park isn’t really “near” anywhere, except perhaps Orange Springs, which is about as far northeast in Marion County as you can get. So the park is certainly off the beaten path, along CR 318 east of Citra. The nature trail at the park is much longer than I’d been given to believe. Back when I tried to hike it for “Hiker’s Guide,” I kept finding the gates locked during operating hours. This was when one of our county commissioners, Randy Harris, was trying to sell it off to developers because “no one uses the park.” Well, duh, if the gates are always locked….
Seriously, though, I made a fuss in the Ocala Star Banner about it, and a bunch of good folks who lived near that carried on enough that the idea of selling the park was dropped. Good thing. It’s like a miniature version of Gold Head Branch State Park, minus Gold Head Branch, with cabins along the edge of the lake, places for swimming and picnicking, and a place to launch canoes and kayaks. And the nature trail.
Horseshoe Lake is a pretty sandhills lake much like you encounter everywhere from Clearwater Lake to Starke, surrounded by hardwood and pine forest. I ran the GPS and came up with 1.8 miles as I walked the nature trail, and there was another fork to it I didn’t explore, since it was getting late. Once I transcribe this, I’ll add it to the Hike-A-Week lineup!