The trail at Black Bear Wilderness Area is an almost 7.5 mile loop near Sanford, FL. This is definitely one of the more challenging hikes we’ve done, since the trail is very narrow and sometimes isn’t there at all (due to animals digging holes in it or the ground just giving way). As trails in Florida go, this one required the most amount of “climbing” we’ve done so far — some of the tree roots obstruct the path that much. At times it really felt like being in a jungle too, it just felt really tropical in a way that the trails further north in Florida don’t.
We ended up doing the trail backwards, which doesn’t really make a difference except that if we had gone the other way, we would have seen some signage early on that tells you what some of the different plants are. So for most of the trail we were looking at these little stalagmite-type things growing up from the tree roots, not sure at all what they actually are. Turns out they’re literally called knees, and they grow upwards to help the tree survive when the water rises.
Unfortunately we didn’t actually see any bears on the trail; I’m not sure what their hibernation schedule is like in Florida but it is still technically winter despite all of this warm weather. There were plenty of birds, as usual, but probably more different types of birds than we’ve seen on any trail so far. Apart from the usual fare of herons or egrets, we got to see some eagles, vultures and loons too. At the end of the trail, we spotted a couple tiny gators! Neat.
About halfway through the trail, we came across a little primitive camping area with a gazebo-type thing where we ate lunch. You need a permit to camp there and it’s about 3 miles from the parking area, but it definitely seems like a neat place to pitch a tent if you’re ever out that way and that’s your thing.
It took us like 4 hours to do the entire trail, but the time really flew by. I really think this is my favorite trail we’ve done so far, maybe just because of how unkempt the trail was. That definitely made it more interesting. I am glad we came out here when it was a little on the cooler side though, I’m pretty sure the bugs would be insane any other time of the year. On the other hand, you’re probably more likely to actually see some black bears during spring and summer.