Well it may not have been the literal hell, but it was hot and I do mean hot hot hot.
Maggie and I hiked the Sunnyhill Restoration Area located out County Road 42 near the Ocklawaha River here in Marion County. This is a 4,405-acre patch of land located in the Ocklawaha River floodplain.
We choose the Levee Trail. This follows a levee, as the trail name would indicate, along the river. The levee was put there by the Army Corps of Engineers to control flooding.
The Levee Trail is treeless for most of the way and seems to go on forever. Actually it goes from the Conservation Area to Moss Bluff. The total length is approximately 9 miles one way. We did not walk the entire distance. The heat got to both of us and after about a half hour of hiking we returned to the trail head.
The trail gives you a great view of the river and the fields and marshes that make up the flood plain. There are a number of birds that can easily be seen along the river. This area is known for the white ibis, various herons, snowy egrets and a number of cranes are supposed to winter in the Ocklawaha River Basin.
I am sure there are fish in the river. However, none could be seen. Although otter are knows to be in the area we saw no other wildlife during our hike. They were probably smart enough to stay out of the heat.
The trail was flat and grassy, easy walking except for the brutal heat. There was no shade along the trail. No way to get a break from the oppressive heat.
Even though our total walk was just over an hour, I was careful to keep both Maggie and I well hydrated. We stopped and took in water a couple of times going and coming back. This is the first time that I used all of the water that I was carrying. We did have more back in the car and used it as well on our return.
There are both hiking and horse trails. We did meet a group of horses and riders on our way back to the parking lot.
I felt the trail head were not easy to find. However, now that I have done some research on the web, I find there are actually 5 different trails that are available to hike or walk.
This trail is easy to navigate and at different times of the year offers the opportunity to observe different varieties of wildlife. I would only hike this area in the fall or winter, during the cooler months.
As always – may you hike in peace.
Directions – From Belleview take US 441 south. Drive south for 4 miles to SR 42. Turn left at the light. Continue for 9.7 miles through Weirsdale on SR 42 to cross over the Ocklawaha River Bridge. Watch for the low sign on the left for the entrance to Sunnyhill, across from Nelson’s Fish Camp. Turn left on the first road to the parking area at the Blue House.