My friend, Phil, and I went out to the preserve two weeks ago to walk a portion of the nine miles of trails blazed through the park. The following is a photo essay of our experience. As you read, try to picture this beautiful piece of land as a golf course and a gated community full of manicured lawns and rich people.
Most of the trails lead through the quickly disappearing Longleaf Pine ecosystem that is unique to north Florida and south Georgia. This naturally beautiful ecosystem is home to many endangered animals such as gopher tortoises, indigo snakes, and red cockaded woodpeckers. In some areas, you may be lucky enough to spot hooded pitcher plants with their long, carniverous flowers or the bright fruit of the beautyberry bush. It is not unusual to hear armadillos, raccoons, and deer rummaging around in the palmettos and wiregrass off the trail.
This is part of the red-blazed trail. In my opinion, it is the most scenic one in the park. It leads back through the swamp along an old logging road down to Durbin Creek.
This is Durbin Creek about a half-mile downstream from the power lines and the huge gator. Almost the entire stretch of this creek is completely pristine. But look across the creek in this picture. Enjoy the undisturbed swamp while it lasts, because in a few years there will be big docks lining that bank, all thanks to my favorite people in the world, the developers of Bartram Park.
A timber company used to own part of the land the preserve sits on, and there was a cultivated forest of Slash Pines on here. The park managers have taken out the un-natural Slash Pines and have planted Longleaf Pines in their place. In 50 years this forest will be an oasis of natural beauty in a land filled with cookie-cutter houses, rich people, and transplants..."Progress"