Grant Flatwoods Sanctuary - Hiking

This open classical pine flatwoods ecosystem, located in rural Grant, is 2,260 acres of protected open space established by the EEL Program. The area is classified as wetlands; depending on when the area is visited you could encounter a lot of water, making many sections unavailable. The day I hiked around the area it was a very dry time of the year so I had access to every section. Even though this sanctuary is out in what seems to be nowhere, it has houses on at least half its borders. The rest of the borders are controlled by private parties and land owners of Grant. Getting lost is not an option as no matter which way you go you will run into a fence. Do not cross any fences as all surrounding property is private. You will find plenty of grass, palmettos and pine trees throughout the sanctuary. There are a few oaks along the boarders as well as some cypress tree domes and stunted cypress trees found in different parts of the sanctuary. The sanctuary is aptly named as the dominant tree is the pine flatwood. EEL allows hiking, biking, birding and horses in this area.
The EEL Group has marked off one trail, labeled as the “red” trail. It is reported as 1.83 miles long. The trail starts at the sanctuary entrance and loops out the main road and into a grass and palmetto area. It comes to an old dirt road where you are directed eastward. You will then wind back into the palmettos, coming out on another dirt road. The trail will cut through some grass and then back on a dirt road leading back to the parking area. The day I hiked the trail the trail markers where at times hard to spot, I had to venture back onto the trail a number times after losing the markers. I only stayed on trail so as to record the tracks for my documents. My final note about this trail, it leaves a certain amount to be desired, I recommend that if you own a handheld GPS unit that you use it in this area. Again, the trail is under developed and it is very easy to lose sight of it and walk off course. The fences along the borders will eventually aid you in getting your baring, though you may find that you have walked more than you intended. Mind those palmettos; some are razor sharp should you need to bushwhack through them to return to the trail. As you hike along, you will get a good deep flavor of a Florida pine flatwoods ecosystem.
I ventured all over the sanctuary, hiking 7.50 miles. There are a number of dirt roads to follow and game trails which form game “highways” throughout the sanctuary. The dirt roads follow the boundary of the sanctuary, with one which crosses in the middle. Being that the area was completely dry, I could go anywhere I wanted to go. I discovered a bald eagle’s nest in some pines along the back border. I spotted a number of song birds and woodpeckers around the area. From the degree the game trails where worn in I know that there was a lot of game that I never saw – from pigs to deer. I talked to one of the local residents who lived just outside the park, he made note that you might run across a rattlesnake while out there, so be aware of that distinct rattle. Just don’t bother them and they won’t bother you. In all the miles and areas I have hiked, I have only come across two large rattlesnakes. In both cases, they went their way and I went mine.
Overall, I’m not a big fan of scrub hiking; just too open for me. This is a very pretty place, with some interesting spots to visit. If you take it easy, I’m sure you will see a variety of wildlife. Being as dry as it was, there were no wildflowers. I’m sure if you visit the area during the right time you will find a variety of wildflowers. The tall dark bark of the pine trees, the sharp green of the palmettos and the rich silver and green grasses created scenery with spectacular color contrasts. Throw in some blue sky and white cumulus clouds and you just may find yourself in a picture perfect day. As it seems with all areas I hike I find litter to pick up. Please consider carrying a plastic bag in you daypack to be used in case you spot some litter. Remember, take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints. I wish you continuous “Happy Trails”.

The entrance/parking GPS coords are – N27 54.096 W80 33.005

Pictures and Hiking Map Links –
• You can see a number of pictures of the area at - Grant Flatwoods Sanctuary Pictures – use the “Launch Slideshow” function to loop through them
• Red trail hike can be viewed/downloaded at - Red Trail WIKILOC Hike
• My wandering route can be viewed/downloaded at - Wandering WIKILOC Route

Some Pictures From The Area (Click to Enlarge) -
Information Kiosk -
Classical Pine Flatwoods -
Pine Flatwoods -
Cypress Dome -
Game Trail -
Pond View -

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

So nice to see some new posts. You have a knack to finding those hikes that are not in all the usual books and so are just right for those of us who have hiked every hike in the book. Keep 'em coming!! You do a great job.

MARK

Anonymous said...

My son and I hiked this sanctuary yesterday, a cool and very breezy November, Wednesday afternoon. We followed the main road south and then west to the southwest corner where we spotted three otter crossing a drive just outside the boundary.
A firebreak had been tilled up just inside the boundary fence so we followed it north, then east at the north border. About halfway down we turned south on another firebreak which took us straight to the entrance. We spooked a deer grazing on the lush grass growing in a burned section as we passed.
Hiking the firebreak can be slow going as it is sometimes very rough with palmetto roots.
It was quite dry but there were some wildflowers scattered about, also some nice grassy vistas looking into the interior from the boundary.
The road and what I saw of the red trail looked firm enough for some biking with no signs of horse traffic.
A quiet, peaceful outing with a few surprises on the way.
Edmund Zaruba 11/14/2013