As you can see from this map, there are a lot of trails at Wekiwa Springs State Park. At least two are shared with mountain bikers and/or horses but not the one I’m hiking today.
I had never heard of a volksmarch until I read about it on Susan’s blog. She does a lot of them and they always seem to have interesting things to see or experience whether they are in a natural area or through a town.
Volksmarch is German for People’s Walk and that’s what they are. A volksmarch is a non-competitive walk. Volksmarch walks are open to the public to come and enjoy. They are not charity fundraising walks, but walks held for the purpose of getting people out walking. A great idea.
There are clubs that sponsor walks and create routes all over the country. You can find out all about it from the American Volkssport Association. Just click the link Clubs at the top to find out if there is a club or an outing in your area.
So when I saw that one of the hikes here in Wekiwa Springs was called the Volksmarch, I knew this was my chance to do one. Pretty sure I’ll have the trail all to myself early on a Sunday morning.
At Wekiwa this hike is 5.3 miles long and blazed orange. It follows parts of several other trails so it’s best to have a map of the park trails with you when you set out.
Both on the park’s blazes and on this map, the orange has faded a bit as has another trail blazed in red so they are a bit difficult to tell apart. But the numbers on the map make it easy to see that this trail starts at #1 at the spring, goes through 2-10 and then changes to 29 down to 24 and back to 2 and 1. A lolipop trail or in this case more like a balloon losing its air.
Because I have walked from #1 to #3 several times now going to and from the campground (those little circles at the bottom of the map) to the springs, I start out at number 3 shortening my walk by about a mile.
I start out early in the morning. No one else around. The beginning of the trail has been burned fairly recently but the grasses are coming back as the trail leads me into the long leaf pine habitat. Wish my legs were as long as my shadow makes them look
You really have to get close up to see the beauty in some of the little gems.
When I first start out, I can see a lake in the far distance but as my path wanders, it disappears from sight. I keep looking off to my left to see it but I don’t. When I’m sure I must be near I start looking for paths off to the left. I find one that is very faint and take it. REWARD!
Double reward! Waterfowl!! I hide in the bushes which makes it difficult to get good pictures of them. But I know if I make any sound, they will all be gone in an instant.
There are a pair of woodstorks but I am not able to get them both in the same picture since I am so far away. First woodstorks I’ve seen in a long time.
But the best of the bunch was this pair. She’s quacking, he’s busy.
She keeps quacking, he looks up to see what’s going on.
She keeps quacking, he gives her a look.
She cuts the quacking down.
She cuts the quacking out. I guess he told her and back to business he goes.
Common morhens, with the candy corn beak, are often seen with american coots. Check out the foot on the woodstork. Nice pink.
A snowy egret flies in and shares the space with the woodstork, no problem.
I love the snowy’s golden slippers.
Wish I could have gotten a picture of the head of this white ibis directly behind the glossy ibis.
I spend a lot of time in my hidden location watching them fish and preen and fly or swim here and there. I love that everybody gets along really well here. Snowy egret with common morhen.
But I haven’t had breakfast yet and I have quite a way to go so reluctantly with a last look at the lake, I return to the trail.
Can you see the trail in the above picture or the one below taken as I head back toward the main orange blazed volksmarch trail?
Good thing I’m not doing this hike with a group who would blaze a much more obvious trail here with their many feet. And most likely they’d never want to wait as long as I always want to stay.
Back on the clearly marked orange/white trail I soon come to my first fork.
The park has placed a map here. And luckily too since the one they give you at the ranger station is so small in order to have all the trails on it that you can barely see what trail goes where with all the colors.
But their numbering system really helps although based on how the numbers are done, I’d say this was fairly recent.
So here I am at 10 and it’s clear from the map that I want to go right to keep following orange although as you can see, you have to look further ahead to be certain that those red triangles which look orange are not actually where you want to go.
Really not sure how my eyes picked up this fellow on the ground since he blends in totally with his surroundings.
This swallowtail was much easier to spot although he too was down near the ground.
Looks like my friend here also likes blueberries. I’m too early for them obviously but he’s doing his part to make sure there are berries probably in late May or early June.
There’s no map at this intersection but it’s the 4 way I was told by the previous map to expect at marker 30. At this point the trail markers change to orange and blue. I left the white main trail behind at the last fork.
I stop for a picture of me on this day doing this hike and having a wonderful time.
The blue trail heads off in a different direction and orange joins yellow now.
Things get a bit narrow in the palmettos.
Sometimes really narrow. I wonder how many people actually do this volksmarch? It’s a really great trail.
More beauty to come for those who walk this trail some days from now.
I’m nearing the campground when I stop for a little communion with a junior long leaf pine tree.
I’m holding a bundle of its leaves so you can see just how long these needles are even on the juveniles. The natives and many people still use them for making woven baskets. If you ever see any, they are beautiful.
Back in the campground, just beyond our picnic table I find this fellow I’ve been searching for all day. He’s a long leave pine habitat mammal, the Sherman’s fox squirrel. You can tell him easily by his VERY long tail. Like the pine needles it is longer than your usual squirrel
His little face is different too. What fun to find him in my own back yard after I’ve walked over 5 miles hoping to spot him.