Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Hiking the Theodore Roosevelt Area to Fort Caroline
“That’s why I want this place saved. So you can come see God.”-William H. Browne, III, 1969
The sunny, not too hot, not too cold weather that accompanies Spring in Florida has been putting me in such a great mood! I love being able to leave the windows open and the smells of fresh cut grass, new leaves and flowers. I was even persuaded to go hiking in the Timucuan Ecological Preserve with Ryan just to be out in the perfect weather. If I had known that hiking was really just a fancy word for "walking in the woods", I think I would have taken to it sooner!
We decided to visit Fort Caroline since we have not been able to make it out there since we moved to Jacksonville (when we tried to sail there in August, we got stuck in the current of the St. John's for a few hours). Ryan quickly looked up Fort Caroline on the National Park Service website which led us to begin our hike in the Theodore Roosevelt Area of the Preserve.
It's probably about 3 miles total from the Theodore Roosevelt Area to Fort Caroline and back but we are both a little out of shape so I have to admit (with some shame) that we were hurting by the end of it! Once we reached the fort, we were disappointed to find that it's tiny! Gorgeous, but tiny. I'm sure in it's heyday it was more intimidating, but in it's current state I'm pretty sure I could conquer it with a kick and a shove...and I use a 5 lb dumbbell to "work out". It was still a nice place for a picnic though and since I wouldn't play frisbee with Ryan, it was also a nice place for him to throw the frisbee around...by himself. The faces of the children scaling the walls and cannons of the fort reflected a sort of "Oh, so those are the people I'm supposed to stay away from" look.
Informative bit: The Theodore Roosevelt Area was donated to The Nature Conservancy by William H. Browne in 1969 "with the stipulation that it or any future owner would keep the land in its natural state" (NPS website). Now is an excellent time to visit as the bugs are not out yet in full force :) Parking and entrance are free and this park is very well maintained. You can bike on one of the trails and dogs are allowed on a leash. If you take the trails that lead to the Spanish Pond area, you can exit the parking lot there, cross the street and be at the entrance to Fort Caroline in minutes...or you could just drive there if you wanted to skip the hike. There is a very nice welcome center, restrooms and drinking fountains to fill up a water bottle at Fort Caroline. For more information about the Timucuan Ecological Preserve, Fort Caroline and the Theodore Roosevelt Area, please visit their website.