Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Florida Trail: Jonathan Dickinson State Park East Loop

This past Saturday my dad and I headed up to Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound, FL to hike the East Loop trail.  According to my guidebook it was listed at 9.8 miles.  We knew the weather was going to be hot so we arrived right when the park opened at 8 AM.  We started our hike by 8:15.  The first couple of miles are a bit challenging since you are walking on sugar sand.  Within the first 3 miles we started questioning the accuracy of my book's hike description.  According to the amount of time we had hiked, we should have gone farther than the books' description.  We assumed we were just making poor time due to the sand and kept going.  Eventually we reached a trail marker that proved we had gone a mile further than we had according to the book.  We headed towards the Scrub Jay campsite.  Because the entire park had undergone a prescribed burn about 7 months prior, most of the undergrowth was gone and there was almost no tree cover or shade.  This coupled with the sun's reflection off the sand made for a very hot hike.  We reached the Scrub Jay campsite, which consists of two large backpacking sites each with a picnic table and fire ring.  Here we stopped for lunch and discussed potentially camping here in the cooler months.  On our way out we passed a working water pump and a very fancy and clean solar powered privy.  Definitely a luxurious backpacking site!  At this point the trail split and you could continue on towards the Kitching campsite or head back to the parking lot.  We headed back to the front of the park.  While we had to cross over a lot of water obstacles, almost all of them had semi-hidden bridges off to the side.  Finally, we reached an ankle deep creek with no bridge.  We stopped to remove our shoes before crossing since the thought of hiking another 4+ miles in wet boots was unappealing.  The later part of our hike was much more challenging due to the 90 degree weather and lack of shade.  At one point, the trail joined up with a biking path and we didn't see any blazes for awhile.  Just when we were considering the idea that we had missed the turnoff, we saw a blaze ahead.  Just towards the end, the trail makes a sharp turn and detours you to walk along a really pretty lake.  We were definitely happy to reach the car!  Overall, this was a challenging hike due to the never ending sugar sand and high temperatures.  We will consider doing it again in the winter as an overnight trip.  Also, if you read a description about this trail and it is listed at 9.8 miles, this is incorrect!  It is actually 10.8 miles.  While the 1 mile difference is not that big of a deal, it created confusion during the first part of the trip.

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