It is very windy here as in 14 and 15mph with gusts of 20 and up. So what to do when there is so much wind? That much wind means no kayaking and limited beach sitting time. So we’ve done some biking and a lot of hiking both on the beach and off of it.
On Sunday we bike down A1A to the Northern Peninsula State Park which I mentioned as another park with a beach just south of Gamble Rogers. Northern Peninsula is a day use park and like Gamble Rogers, extends on both sides of A1A. It has more than two miles of unspoiled beach and 522 acres of diverse terrain.
We bike down A1A to the High Beach Road where there is parking and facilities on both sides. The South side is called Smith Creek Landing where visitors can crab, fish or picnic. It also has a boat launch into the Inland Waterway. Gamble Rogers does too but Northern Peninsula is free both to use the beach and the boat launch. Probably because they have no campsites to support.
On the other side, the North side of High Beach Road is where we are going in order to hike the 2 mile Coastal Strand trail. This park has been a huge reclamation project trying to bring back the wetlands that were once here before canals. In the 1930’s and 40’s the dredging of the Intracoastal Waterway impacted the salt marsh along Smith Creek. More than 30 acres of spoil site from those dredging activities were restored to natural tidal marsh conditions here on the northwest section of the park.
Last time we were here and came down to hike the Coastal Strand Trail, it was closed due to some sort of restoration activity. But today happily it is open.
We park our bikes and there again is the bicycle service station. Now I really do wonder if all the county and state parks here have these really wonderful facilities. You can see the two pieces, an air pump and tools, in the picture above.
The trail starts out going along the water.
And then moves into the maritime forest and over a boardwalk through the marsh..
Seems like this would be a swamp as I understand it because it can support woody plants and trees. A marsh supports a variety of reeds and grasses.
At this point we move out of the maritime forest and into the Coastal Strand area.
Coastal Strand occurs on deep, wind-deposited sands which have been wind sorted and wave washed. It is stabilized, wind-deposited coastal dunes that are vegetated with a dense thicket of salt tolerant shrubs. Coastal Strand dunes are generally quite stable but are susceptible to severe damage if the vegetation is disturbed. Thus Coastal Strand is probably the most rapidly disappearing community in Florida.
Coastal Strand is very important in protecting inland communities from storms. Typical plants here are the saw palmetto, sand live oak, myrtle oak, yaupon, and bay cedar.
In the picture above, David is walking down an fairly steep dune. Somehow, in photographs, things never look as steep as they are. He is in the Coastal Strand area. To his left is the Maritime Forest rising above.
We’ve reached the end of the loop trail and are heading back. Now the Coastal Strand is on the left and the forest on the right. The trail is between them both.
The maritime forest occurs on old coastal dunes that have been stabilized long enough for the growth of a forest. It is characterized as a narrow band of hardwood forest lying just inland of the coastal Strand community. Live oak, cabbage palm and red bay combine to form a dense wind pruned canopy whose streamlined profile deflects winds and generally prevents hurricanes from uprooting the trees.
In areas where these natural communities have been destroyed, hurricane damage is much more severe. We must learn that Nature knows best and not build our homes in these areas and thus destroy the natural protection of the land.
I’m really happy the county has spent the time and money to restore this coastal marsh and to protect these two valuable communities. I think this guy is too. We see him and several others like him in the newly restored marsh area as we near the end of our hike back where we began.
Riding to and from the trail head you do have to share a road with no shoulder with cars but the traffic on this day was not great and we had no trouble.
When we get to A1A, we head back on the safe sidewalk and watch the ocean waves on our right. I just love that the view is open and not blocked by homes and businesses. Hats off to the State of Florida and Flagler County for these two nearly adjacent State Parks.
Back home, I never tire of the view out my front window.
Monday morning dawns cloudy and windy again. Nice waves though.
After yesterday’s success on the bikes in the wind, we think we can bike the few miles into town and to the library and hike the Betty Steflik Trail through the marsh and over to the Inland Waterway.
Based on the flora and fauna around me this too is a marsh maritime forest community.
At the end of this trail is the main boat launch of Flagler Beach into the Inland waterway. This great blue heron is standing watch across from the boat dock.
We find that if we put in and paddle around and under one of the bridges we could paddle in this marsh. IF we could keep from getting lost. Can anyone recommend a good GPS to use on the water that would enable us to see a map of this area and allow us to map where we go so we can be sure we can follow our bread crumbs back? Normally we just try to pay attention to which way we have turned but this area is more complicated than others we’ve done outside of the Everglades which have marked trails. This area has no marked trails.
Sure looks like it would be a great paddle.
After our hike we head over to the Flagler Regional Libray. Love its simple style.
But, the sign on the door says it is closed on Mondays which we didn’t know.
On the door, in additon to the library’s hours, is this notice. I’m very glad the county has been able to do so much restoration and hope they will soon have the library open again. It’s been 6 weeks now since the storm. I’d call this hidden hurricane damage, not as noticable to the usual tourist as the main road damage. But it’s damage for the community.
To close our day, we didn’t have an exceptional sunset but we did have some great silhouettes.
Up on what I assume was intended to be an osprey nesting platform is one silhouette and down in the water is the other.
The color back at Winnona when we returned from the sunset was actually more beautiful than the sunset had been.
We only have two more days here in this gorgeous spot. Hope the winds die down so I can have some time on the beach with the water, the waves and the birds.