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Osprey Trail DUNEDIN 2.5 MILES On this barrier island just north of Clearwater Beach, the Osprey Trail at Honeymoon Island State Park offers a close-up look at a rookery of “sea eagles,” the noble osprey. There are nesting colonies of osprey and pelicans along the Osprey and Pelican Trails, and sweeping views across the sound and the Gulf of Mexico. The Osprey Trail guides you through a virgin pine forest with an understory of coastal plants, while the Pelican Trail works its way around the edge of the peninsula, along the Gulf of Mexico to the sound across from Pelican Point and through the mangrove marshes. Spend an after- noon savoring the salt air and sea breeze on these sunny trails.

Oxbow Trail CITRUS SPRINGS 1.2 MILES A lesser-known part of Withlacoochee State Forest, the Oxbow Trail is on the northernmost tract of the forest along the Withlacoochee River, the trails and campsites all Eagle Scout projects. While the easy-to-follow big loop trail is a popular circuit for families and folks taking their dogs on a walk, the tougher-to- follow but more visually satisfying addendum, the Oxbow Nature Trail, makes its way out to the very tip of the peninsula, providing excellent scenic views of the river.

Paynes Creek Historic State Park BOWLING GREEN Along a quiet shoreline of the Peace River, an interpretive visitor center, the remains of a Seminole War era fortress, and a memorial are important components of Paynes Creek Historic State Park, which memorializes the flashpoint of the Third Seminole War.

Rainbow Springs State Park DUNNELLON A place of beauty that morphed from phosphate pits to botanical attraction over the course of a century, Rainbow Springs State Park cradles one of Florida’s most beautiful first- magnitude springs and the river it creates in a wrap of shady forests and gardens.

Silver Springs Conservation Area SILVER SPRINGS 2.3 MILES It’s been a long time coming – Marion County’s first conservation area is now open for hikers to enjoy. Tucked between residential and business areas in Silver Springs across from Silver River State Park, this slice of sandhills and scrub is a crucial upland recharge area for the nearby first-magnitude spring.

Smyrna Dunes Park NEW SMYRNA BEACH 2.4 MILES As the wind whips across a broad, sweeping peninsula reaching out towards Ponce Inlet. Listen for the squawks of shorebirds and the rustle of gopher tortoises.

Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park WHITE SPRINGS No Florida State Park is as celebrated as Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park. For more than a half-century, it’s been home to the Florida Folk Festival, a Memorial Day Weekend treat with over a dozen bands play- ing on stages simultaneously throughout the expansive green space.

Suwannee River State Park LIVE OAK Perched on the bluffs at the conflu- ence of the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers, Suwannee River State Park is one of those don’t-miss Florida outdoors experiences, with two ghost towns, Civil War battlements that once protected a strategic railroad bridge, and the ruins of a former governor’s riverfront mansion.

Ten Thousand Islands Marsh Trail NAPLES One of the world’s most mysteri- ous places, the Ten Thousand Islands is where the Florida peninsula breaks apart into thousands and thousands of tiny pieces – clusters of mangroves forming islands in a shallow estuary constantly fed by a flow of fresh rainfall in a never-ending flow into Florida Bay.

Wakulla Springs State Park WAKULLA A 1930s resort turned nature park surrounding one of the world’s largest and deepest springs, Wakulla Springs State Park leads you back in time at the state’s only state park lodge.

Withlacoochee River Park DADE CITY 6.5 MILES Most folks who hear about the Green Swamp imagine a giant watery wilderness like the Okeefenokee or the Everglades, but this swamp is very different. It is the headwaters of four Florida rivers—the north-flowing Withlacoochee and Ocklawaha, and the south-flowing Peace and Hillsborough. It’s a micro- cosm of Central Florida habitats and a crucial recharge area for Florida’s water supply.

Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park HOMOSASSA SPRINGS Beneath a dense canopy of old live oaks, the Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins are a familiar landmark to anyone driving through Old Homosassa – the road snakes past it on the way to the river. Spring ~ 2014 THE NEW BARKER 53

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