Friday, August 28, 2009

A Visit To The Prairie

IMG_3034Today was day off #2. I'll be back to work tomorrow. Today was spent in Gainesville, an hour from the park. It was "big city" errand running day. I also took some time to visit one of my favorite state parks, Paynes Prairie. I volunteered at Paynes Prairie before I was hired as a ranger. It is a really cool, 22,000 acre park. The whole area is a part of the Alachua Sink, a grouping of sink holes that merged. Rainfall here helps to recharge our underground aquifer and feed springs. Throughout history, the Prairie has had varying amounts of standing water. At times it looks like dry land and at one point, there was enough water for steamboat traffic.
There are multiple entrances to this massive park. Because I didn't have a lot of time today, I visited two areas that are close to the road and allow quick access. One area was the 441 overlook. You can literally, pull off of the 4 lane highway and walk out on a nice boardwalk into the Prairie. Its easy to forget the traffic behind you looking out onto the expanse of greenery and flowers and butterflies and dragonflies and lizards and unidentified movement. When there is more water, people gather here to look for alligators. Several birds frequent this area as well, including Sandhill Cranes when the time is right.
The other area I visited was the Bolen Bluff Trail. It is another entrance right off of the highway, but immediately out of the parking lot, you are engulfed in the beautiful forest of live oak and palm trees that north-central Florida is known for. A small loop trail takes you through the forest and out to the Prairie again. I always see evidence of the Cracker Horses here, but I have never seen them. Another really cool thing about this park are the Cracker Cattle and Horses as well as the bison that roam free. These are the same breed of horses that I ride when I get to ride for work. I had a quiet walk, I saw several other people out walking though. I didn't see a lot of wildlife, but I did enjoy seeing the bright orange mushrooms. I also caught one little butterfly that was hiding from me, high in a bush.

1 comment:

Linda said...

I wonder when you will see the Sandhills...they are just gathering up here to migrate south. Interesting!!!