Cone’s Dike Trail Hike

Thursday February 21st 2019

The beautiful warm weather continued today. Once again there were record high temperatures in the area. Gainesville reached a high temperature of 89 degrees. For a change today was mostly sunny rather than mostly cloudy.

Wild Flower Blossom of the day.

Around noon I kicked my self into gear and left the campground heading for Gainesvile about ten miles north. I left so quickly that I didn’t remember to take my phone off the charger and put it in my pocket. This is the second time in a week that I’ve left home with out it. On Sunday there were no consequences, but today it caused a minor issue. When I got into Gainesville I had no way of finding the Walmart Super Center or any other grocery store unless I stumbled on one. I suppose I could have asked some one, but that would be cheating the adventure. I drove around for half an hour before deciding to try again tomorrow. There was better adventure available back at the state park.

Two of about five wild horses in front of the observation tower at the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park visitors center.
Two horses from the same herd visible from the Cone’s Dike Trail out on the prairie.

Back at the state park I got on my bicycle and set out for the trails around the visitors center again. The fire service was doing a controlled burn on the mile and a half road from the campground to the visitor center. It was an education to ride my bike right through the middle of the activity. They had people setting fires, people controlling the fire and people putting out fires. Most of the fire service people were on foot, but they also had a huge tracked vehicle. I didn’t stop to take any pictures. It was smokey and looked a little dangerous, so I kept riding through the area.

Once I got to the visitors center area, my first order of business was to climb the observation tower and check on any visible wildlife. Today I saw about five wild horses close to the observation tower. I understand there are several small herds of horses and two herds of bison that can occasionally be observed.

Young alligator in the water along the side of the Cone’s Dike Trail.

From the visitors center I took the Cone’s Dike trail out onto the prairie. You need to pass through a gate in the fence around the prairie after reading big signs warning that you are entering an area with wild animals that you shouldn’t disturbed. You are warned to stay away from any bison, horses or alligators that might claim the trail for themselves.

The trail runs out of dry ground in the middle of the prairie.

I didn’t find any animals on the trail. The horses I saw from the observation deck were visible in the tall grass and I saw a small alligator in the water beside the trail. There was plenty of signs of previous animal presence. The horse droppings were rather fresh, but most of the bison scat was a few days or more old. The trail goes about four miles out into the prairie, but was much shorter today. The high water level closed the trail long before I’d walked four miles.

Sunset over Lake Wauberg. The dark spot in the lower right quadrant of the picture is the head of a good size alligator.

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