This one’s a little different! We went out this weekend with the Florida Trail Association for IDIDAHIKE 2017, part of the Florida Trail that goes from the Bell Springs Tract through White Springs Tract along the Suwannee River! The entire loop from the entrance at Bell Springs to the parking lot at the Stephen Foster Tourist Center was about 8.5 miles, but with a little bit of sidetracking down to the river here and there we ended up walking closer to 9 miles.
I was a little hesitant about it because normally we prefer to just do stuff by ourselves, and I didn’t want to be attached to a group if it meant we wouldn’t be able to take our time, but it really ended up being pretty relaxed. The hike was sponsored by REI too, so there were stations every few miles with free snacks and cold water, and at one point there was a porta-potty which is a blessing because for some reason I can’t walk more than 3 miles without needing to pee.
The part of the river we hiked along was pretty calm, except for one small section that we were able to actually hike down to and there were some little rapids. Not too far from where we hiked is Big Shoals park, which apparently has some pretty big rapids, but we’ll have to come back another time to go see those. This trail was also very similar to the Black Bear Wilderness Area trail we hiked in that there was a lot of elevation change, probably more so actually, the trail was pretty narrow in places, and there were lots of little bridges everywhere which I really enjoy because I’m a child and it’s more fun if it’s like an obstacle course.
About 5.5 miles through, we crossed over U.S. 41 to get to the White Springs Tract where we stopped at one of the picnic tables by the parking lot to eat lunch. The last few miles were killer though, with the temperature being at its high and not a lot of cloud coverage. And then the trail emptied out at a graveyard…which was not particularly motivating.
We dragged ourselves the last mile or so down Spring St. back to the tourist center and let them know we weren’t dead, Nichole got some free barbecue (which was completely unnecessary, it was supposed to be $5 a plate but the guy felt bad for making her wait so he wouldn’t take her money) and then we collapsed in the car and somehow made it back home.
Anyway overall we had a great time and we both agreed that there should always be people at the end of every hike who cheer for you when you come back and act impressed when you tell them you hiked the whole way.