Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Walking Down the Berm

Friday March 24, 2017                                                                                   Most Recent Posts:
Rodman Campground                                                                              Paddling the Ocklawaha River
Palatka, Florida                                                                               Rodman Campground, When to Visit and Why



I wasn’t really intending to walk the Florida Trail the other way, from Rodman to Buckman Lock for reasons that will become obvious.  But David hadn’t walked with me on Monday since my hike was so long.   I figured we could do this section or at least part of it.

The access to the campground from the Florida Trail is right across the road from the campground entry gate.  I didn’t start my previous hike there because I didn’t want to add over 2 miles to it by walking from the campground to beyond the dam mostly on the road which is what the trail does in that direction.  So rather than walk to the campground from the road, I drove so my hike could be less than 10 miles.





Today we ride our bikes up to the gate, lock them there and proceed across the road.  The little bridge takes us to a blue “spur trail”  which dead ends at the Florida Trail where we find a mailbox and a Trail Register.





Trail starts across the main road from the stop sign.  There is a bridge over the ditch and then a blue blazed spur trail which T’s into the Florida Trail.





Hard to see blue blaze on the tree.



Mailbox for the trail log and sign telling Florida Trail hikers that Rodman has restrooms and showers.



Reading some of the Trail Log entries is always fun.  This log runs from  August of 2012 to yesterday.  Nearly 4 years in a not quite half full spiral notebook.  Not nearly as many entries or as long as the ones we read on the AT in Shenandoah National Park a couple of summers ago.






We take a left, walk right along side Rodman Road for nearly half a mile, then cross the road and start down a service road named Berm Road.




The sweet sound of traffic is what we hear on this half mile.









Turns out, the road takes us right by the fence that separates the trail from the campground at the top of our loop.  Too bad we didn’t know this before we started out.  We could have saved ourselves a mile.  Oh well.  All the more steps.

At this point the trail leaves the service road and climbs directly up what I referred to in my post about the campground (purple link at the top) as the “fill hill”.  Apparently the park calls it a Berm and we are now on top of it about 75’ up we think  To our left we can see another “road” right next to the canal.


This shot looks back down to where the campground is after climbing up the trail to the top of the berm.  Pretty tall hill for Florida.



From the top it looks like a nice tree lined farm lane possibly to a lovely home unless you look off to the left and see the canal in the distance and another road at the bottom of the berm right beside the canal.



We see no flowers just lots of leaves, lovely big trees, and this single mushroom.






All along the way we can see the canal and the flat ground beside it below us.



Did I mention lovely big Live Oak trees?






Our trail starts to descend.  We aren’t so high above the canal now.



Shortly a double orange blaze tells us to turn and go down the berm toward the canal.


I’m at the bottom almost to the lower road which I can see.  We know from previous explorations that this road goes straight back to the other end of our campground so once we turn around, we won’t bother to go back up on the berm.



I turn around and catch this picture of David coming down.



From here the Florida Trail goes all the way to the Lock on this perfectly flat path right next to the canal.



And here’s the the giant bridge of Route 19 over the canal.



I can’t even imagine the money it cost to put these bridges WAY up in the air all the way along the right of way down the Ocklawaha.  They look pretty silly up there.  What a waste of funds.




At this point we have over 7000 steps and I don’t have much enthusiasm for more of the same or seeing the lock that has killed too many manatee.  I wrote to the manager about this lock and here is his reply “The manatees do traverse through the lock on an almost daily basis particularly during the warmer months. Although there has been past manatee mortality associated w/ the lock and dam at the reservoir the state had then state of the art manatee protection devices added to the structures to protect manatees to the fullest extent possible.”   Sounds like COE speak to me.  If he wanted to convince me he might have mentioned how many manatee have been killed or injured since the new equipment was installed  “The greatest extent possible” would of course be to take the lock and the dam down. It’s definitely “possible”.  This is why I wasn’t going to do this hike in the first place.  It goes no where I want to go.

So we turn back and follow the canal on what feels like a tow path.  I’m glad the trees are big and lovely and the skies blue with puffy clouds.  They give me something to enjoy.



Could the waterway be any straighter?  Those Corps of Engineers boys are certainly exact.




We see our only wildlife of the day when we are back on the campground road.  Seems the buzzards think there is something here for them to be interested in.  A couple of Turkey Vultures and three Black Vultures are here to greet us as we return.  That about sums up how I feel about the whole canal project.   Vultures.






Enough of Rodman, off to Wekiwa Springs.


  1. Big Berm, bigger bridge aka Pork Barrel. I still cannot figure how those trees got so big so quickly, makes me think this berm has been here longer than we think. Thanks for hiking it with me!

  2. The vulture shots are formidable.

    The book reminds me of the visitor books in Algonquin Park on the hiking trails- generally your name, date, and where you're from. It's a nice way to see where people come from around the world.

  3. This is one thing that I would not miss about Florida, the flat hiking. But somehow you do manage to take it in and enjoy what you've got. The goodness is that the trail you followed has lots of shade.

  4. You guys get out and explore places that we'll likely never visit, even with all of the time we spend in Florida. The live oak trees are so majestic. I'd be looking at them, too, to take my mind off of the dam and locks. :-( I'm glad you're now at Wekiwa Springs, I know you love it there (we do, too).

  5. Well, the trees are beautiful regardless of the downsides. I did laugh about that straight-shot of the canal. Seriously straight!

  6. I so remember that trail from when we were there. Beautiful oaks!

  7. Can't wait to read about Wekiwa Springs...we're thinking of going there next winter. Please let me know if you have a favorite site or better yet, one that Bill would like;o))

  8. I don't understand the height of the bridge either.

  9. I could hear the crunching of all those leaves as you were walking along the berm. The oaks are wonderful.

  10. Seems the saving grace is all those lovely giant oaks. Mom Nature doesn't do straight lines like that.

  11. Beautiful trail through those awesome live oaks...very peaceful trail to be on. You're right it makes you think it leads up to a house at the end of the road.

  12. Love those trees. Not the most enjoyable hike, but the trees....beautiful.

  13. Wow, that certainly was a "legalize" response from the COE! :cO


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