|Map from SWFWMD|
I was pleasantly surprised when I drove into the park this morning. The electronic gates opened at 7:01 and I drove the meandering road about a mile (I want to run this 1.85 mile loop the next time I am at the park) back to the parking lot. It was great to see multiple deer, rabbits, and wild turkey mere yards into the park. Who knew such a beautifully preserved piece of land sat so quietly near my home for years?
Overall this park is probably the most "user friendly" park I have ever been to. All paths and viewing areas are marked from the trail head. Almost over-marked, it is virtually impossible to get lost. The trails fit together in one large loop with a few points of intersection. The disappointing part is that I felt like I was running a loop, like the wilderness did not go on forever. I knew that in time, I would end up right where I started without any need for exploration. That can be a great thing when you are looking to run a fast trail run, but these are not the trails to spend hours on.
|I appreciate the start and ending points. These markings help when determining how far you traveled.|
|A few distances are marked on the Wilderness Trail|
Signs reading "Preserve Staff Only" appeared frequently on the paths. As much as I wanted to run these clearly off-limit trails, I was good and stuck to the paths intended for park guests. I can imagine that the restricted trails are much more extensive (and fun), probably similar to the obscure, overgrown paths I find at J. B. Starkey Wilderness Park. Even though the Preserve Staff does not want anyone to explore these trails, I am overwhelmingly curious about how far out they go.
Being a future educator and lover of natural sciences, I greatly appreciated the educational plaques on the trail by the Education Center. The quality of the information and presentation as a whole was impressive. This would be a wonderful place to take a family or group of children to learn about natural Florida firsthand.
Knowing the size of this park, I thought that there had to be other entrances. With a bit of research, I learned of the one off of Lora Lane. Horse trails! We all know those are my favorite. I can't wait to get back out to Brooker Creek Preserve and learn the intricacies of the land!