Sunday, February 9, 2014

Fire Prairie Trail and Deep Lake

Yesterday I co-led a small group of hikers on the Fire Prairie Trail in Big Cypress followed by a trip to Deep Lake.  It was a super foggy morning which slowed us down on the highway getting there.  Fire Prairie is a great hiking trail for beginners since it is always dry and very flat.  It was originally built as an oil exploration road so it never floods.

We took our time and stopped a lot for photos of the various flowers and wildlife.  It is only 2.6 miles in so we knew that wouldn't take long.  The fog burned off quickly and the sun was definitely up.  The trail starts in a green tunnel and eventually opens up into a large prairie with cypress trees in the distance.  The dew made the spiderwebs sparkle in the sunlight.

Right near the end of the trail we found a dead Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake and could tell it had been shot.  It was still soft so we figured it had been killed late the day before.

We stopped for a short snack break when we reached the clearing at the end of the trail.  On the way back we ran into a Yellow Rat Snake that looked like it had just eaten.

When we had almost reached a car we also noticed a few baby gators in the water beside the trail.  We didn't see mama gator though.

We then drove down Wagon Wheel Road and north on US 29 to get to the Deep Lake Fire Station.  We parked on the side of the road and headed through the gate.  As soon as we walked in, we noticed 3 deer relaxing under the trees.  Until they saw us that is.

There were no firefighters around so we decided to have lunch at their picnic table before this next hike.  After a quick lunch, we started down the freshly mowed trail.

My dad heading down the trail

At one clearing, I pointed out the old stone wall that is supposedly Barron Collier's old house.  Looking around, it's hard to believe that this entire area used to be a large grapefruit plantation that is now reclaimed by nature.

Me standing on the stone wall (can't really tell how high up I am)

The trail eventually become a bit muddy and wet but not too bad.  Deep Lake is only 3/4 mile down the trail.  They had cleared the area in front of the lake for a better view.

We decided to circumnavigate the lake.  We headed in a clockwise direction, carefully walking through the chilly, thigh deep water.  At one point it got waist deep for about 5 feet.  As we slowly waded around the lake we noticed that there were some very large gators in the middle of the lake.

It took a little bit of bushwhacking towards the end but we made it around.  We took some final pictures then headed back to the cars.  Here are some photos from the circumnavigation: