Monday, December 3, 2012

Hiking The Florida Trail at Little Big Econ State Forest

Econlockhatchee River
Little Big Econ State Forest get it's name from combining the names of the Little Econlockhatchee River and the larger Econlockhatchee River which flow through the forest. One of my favorite features here is the narrow, winding Econlockhatchee River. Little Big Econ State Forest is located in Seminole County, 3.3 miles east of the town of Oviedo on County Road 426.

Econlockhatchee River
Little Big Econ State Forest is historically significant since it contains the first means of crossing the Econlockhatchee River. The Old SR 13 railway and trestle was part of the Flagler Railroad System in the early 1900's and today is part of the Florida National Scenic Trail and is used by hikers to cross the Econlockhatchee River.

This hiking trip we began at the Barr Street Trailhead off of CR 426 and it starts you out on the Florida Trail next to the Econlockhatchee River.  Just after the trailhead as you go onto the Orange trail we came to an intersection not that far where the Florida Trail splits two ways. You can keep going straight or like we did on this hike choose to go left instead. This lead us to the Econlockhatchee River as we passed through some camping sites in an open area. Continuing on the Florida Trail from here we had many great views of the white sandy beaches that make up the high river bluffs. I Noticed the tea colored water and how in some areas you can see right through to the river bottom. Look around you may see some turtles and alligators sun bathing!

Trail along Econlockhatchee River
The trail took us along the edge of the river bluffs for the next couple of miles, around side channels and sometimes using the wooden trail bridges to cross them. The trail takes you into a dense canopy of cabbage palms and oaks and cypresses, a river bluff landscape to behold! In the areas where the river bluffs aren't as steep you can walk down to the river bank, sit on the white sandy beach and enjoy the peace and quiet while taking in the beautiful scenery.

Remains of The Henry Flager Railroad at Flagler Trail
After hiking by the river for a few miles we began to break away from it as we neared the intersection where this trail meets the Flagler Trail. This is where Henry Flagler's Kissimmee Valley Line railroad used to cross the Econlockhatchee River. There you can still see the trestles from the bridge that was built back in the early 1900s.

The Flagler trail is a wide, straight unpaved path surrounded by woods and bike trails on both sides. Once we crossed the river onto the Flager trail we hiked this for several miles until it met up again with the Florida Trail and it cut back into the forest. We kept going here in this thick shaded hammock for just a little bit as it was getting late in the day and had to make sure we had enough time to head back before sunset.

White Sandy Bluffs along Econlockhatchee River

On the walk back I reflected upon the hike and thought of the features that stood out to me the most. These were The Econlockhatchee River and it's high bluffs, with white sandy beaches and tea colored water. The shaded floodplain forests and rugged hiking trails. We visited this place in the fall and it was great to the different colored foliage and wild flowers that are in bloom this time of year. If you are in the central Florida area near Oviedo be sure to not pass this place up. Besides hiking, you can camp and there are also multiple trails for bikes and horses. Another added bonus is you can find multiple geocaches here. I have posted photos and videos here to give you a glimpse of the experience. You can also view my hike from this trip on my Everytrail site.

Tea Colored Waters

Wooden Trail Bridge built by Florida Trail Volunteers

Dense Palm Canopy