Afield in WNC: Enjoy Your Floridays Along the Moss Creek Trail | Latest titles


Jim Williams

When the going gets tough, tough guys go on vacation. Words to live.

Most people can’t understand the stress of walking a high mountain trail on a pleasant spring morning and then coming home with a cup of coffee and a hot cinnamon roll (made by a local pastry artist ) and tell the experiences to others. Will the pressure never end?

When I started to feel too stressed, I succumbed to temptation and we headed to Florida for a few days of relaxation and, yes, hiking.

The good news is that I can come up with a pretty interesting adventure this week in case some of you are lucky enough to spend a few days on the south coast. We’re a little out of the 30 mile zone this week, but if you find yourself near St. Augustine, Florida with a few free hours, I urge you to find this little hike and enjoy the experience. .

Moses Creek White Trail – St. Augustine

Difficulty: Easy. They use one word to describe trails in Florida: “flat”. I had to look for it. This means you can drive a few miles and still hear the little sounds around you because your heart isn’t pounding in your ears.

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Shoes: Almost everything you packed for your vacation. I advise you to avoid sandals. Depending on your plans, you might walk a few miles, so wear the appropriate shoe. There may be occasional water crossings during your hike.

Time: This route is described as a round trip. We walked 4 miles. There are lots of side trails. We took about two hours, but that’s up to you.

Distance: If you have time, try to plan this 4 mile hike. You have several choices to customize your itinerary based on how much time you allow for your outdoor adventure. We felt that this distance allowed us to take a break from some tourist activities, but did not reduce the sightseeing and gastronomic activities we were doing.

Security: Let’s start with the most important. Be sure to bring and wear, if needed, good insect repellent. The only negative feature of the hike was the constant onslaught of mosquitoes and other small bugs.

This area is called a tidal marsh, but don’t let the euphemistic terms fool you. You will be on flat ground often surrounded by black water.

There is moss hanging from the trees and sometimes you won’t be able to see more than a foot or two of the trail due to the dense foliage. I call it a swamp. Keep an eye out for swamp things like snakes, mosquitoes, and alligators. On our short hike we saw all three.

The trails are open to horses and bicycles, so be careful. There are portable toilets on the trail. Water is an absolute must. Not only is there heat, but the humidity is very noticeable.

Courtesy: We encountered several e-bikes on this route. It was a first for us. I don’t know if that was the pitch or if they are becoming more and more popular. I don’t know how I feel about sharing the trail with them yet. They were mostly courteous and watched over us but they drove a little faster than I’m used to. Some of the newer bikes were hard to identify as electric. The riders wore normal bike gear except for the guy in full leather, wearing WWII goggles and a chrome helmet.

When in St. Augustine, look for the Moses Creek – East Trailhead Conservation Area.

Immediately you will see the trail entrance from the parking lot. This is a two way trail with a hard sand base and is covered in most areas with pine needles. The trail coverage and absolute flatness of the path make this one of the most comfortable surfaces I have ever encountered. This land is ideal for tourists who need to get away from traffic.

This is a conservation area, which means everything is conserved. It really is a nature reserve. I love this area because you get the swamp feel almost immediately. The trails we hiked were wide enough, for the most part, to see anything that might need to be avoided.

The trail begins with a straight track that takes you under tall and impressive pine trees. They’re not the trees we associate with Christmas, but they’re mighty at the base and don’t exhibit a canopy of needles until the branches are above their heads. I’m not very good at identifying trees, but I’ve added a few rules of thumb from the University of Florida website: “A handy rule of thumb for distinguishing Florida pines is that pines whose names begin with ” S” usually have needles grouped in twos. Pins starting with “L” usually have needles grouped in threes. Slash pins, starting with “SL”, have an even distribution of needles in twos and threes”.

Based on this information, I identified the pines as slash pines (pinus elliottii) and sand pines (pinus clausa). If you’re lucky enough to be hiking with friends or family, these are great terms to have on hand to impress fellow hikers as they gaze up at the majestic trees.

At about 0.5 miles the trail going straight is closed and the trail you are on makes a sharp turn to the right. We’ll come back to the straight track in a minute. For now, we are heading to the right.

The trail narrows and the ground is covered with pine needles and small fallen leaves in the fall and winter. I walked this area with caution due to the natural cover the leaves provide for crawling creatures. The area is particularly interesting to a visitor because of the Spanish moss that hangs from the tall trees, giving the impression of being at the bottom of the swamp.

Spanish moss is interesting because it does not come from Spain and is not moss. It is a bromeliad, a perennial herbaceous plant of the pineapple family. There is a legend of a Native American princess who lived along the bayou. When she died, her grieving brave hung long locks of hair from a living oak tree. As the tree also began to weep, it snagged its own locks. The plant reminded French colonists of the beards of the Spanish conquistadors, so they called it “Spanish beard”, which eventually became Spanish moss.

A little further and you arrive at the end of this spur. There is a primitive picnic area here and great views of the Matanzas River. By the way, Matanzas is the Spanish word for massacre. The river is aptly named, but that’s another story.

Now go back to the main trail. At the intersection, turn right and go around the gate. You will be back on the wide two-lane sandy track. This trail will give you another 2 miles out and back with even more river views.

Along this portion of the trail are large groups of Sago palms, which provide great photo opportunities. At the end of the path, turn around and return to the car.

I know this adventure won’t be for everyone, but if you have the chance to go to this area, give it a try. You’ll feel like you’re far from humanity, but you can rest assured that you’re only 8 km away from a great fried haddock sandwich.


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