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[ft-l] Offbeat hikes in Lake County

Rich and I spent yesterday afternoon checking out a couple of offbeat Lake County hikes that we've never tried before. 

The first one was on the edge of Eustis, in Hidden Waters Preserve. The trail has a mean slope to it -- drops more than 100 feet, then climbs back up again, only to drop down even more sharply the second time. But wait...BIG hills? In Florida? Sparkling water bouncing down a hillside? Not quite a waterfall, but lush with ferns and definitely flowing downhill. All thanks to a HUGE sinkhole in which the trails lie. The fern-lined stream is one of the prettier places I've seen around here, and it had a nice brisk flow to the crystal-clear water. The trail is only a mile long, but very interesting.

We then sought out Sawgrass Prairie Preserve, which abuts the north end of Lake Yale. Couldn't see the lake, but the clay causeway across the sawgrass brought us within reach of the prairie environment with its wide, open spaces. Many broad, water-filled sinkholes around the edges of this park, and nearly 8 miles of trails. These trails, unfortunately, were optimized for horses-- a lot of plowed up soft sand. Tough walking. The prairie itself is the high point, and we wondered whether it attracts much in the way of migrating birds in the winter.

Many thanks to the FTA member who brought Lake County Water Mgmt District brochures to the FTA conference, detailing where we could find these new and offbeat hikes.  Without maps or directions, you'd literally have to stumble across these hikes to find them, as there is no signage except ON the trailhead kiosks.

Cheers, Sandy