Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Trip 15: Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve and Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Parks

State Parks visited: 14

Chris is back!  Chris is back!  He is mostly recovered from his injury and is finally able to hit the trails with us again!  We were so happy for Chris and excited to have him back with us, that we decided to go for a hike.  Our adventure, on Sunday, led us (Rob, me, Olivia, Chris, andRandy) to the great city of Jacksonville and two of the 7 or so state parks that exist there.

Our first stop was Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park.  Whew!  They sure know how to name them, huh?  Anyway, Pumpkin Hill was once used in the turpentine industry, but now has 5 miles of trails and the namesake creek available for interested visitors.  We opted to take a short hike, the 1.3 mile blue trail, and added an additional .75 mile to it by taking the green trail to the creek.  Let me tell you, without much tree cover, it was hot!!  We also had sugar sand to deal with.

A few other trail highlights:

Not too long afterward, we neared the creek.  The sugar sand was replaced with marsh grass, which was just about knee high:

The struggle to get through it was rewarded with a big pay-off once we got to the creek.  It was beautiful!!

We even got to see hundreds of cute little marsh crabs, which were no bigger than my thumbprint:

Soon afterward we began the return trip down the trail.  Pumpkin Hill has an extensive trail system, yet I got the feeling we only scratched the surface.  This park did not take on a personal tone for me, and I'm not sure if it was from the heat or something else.  Maybe it was this guy:

Nah, golden orb weavers don't bother me. 

From here we made it back to the car, and then we headed to Little Talbot Island State Park.  Not to visit, honestly, but to get the stamps for our books.  We didn't even pay gate admission; We told the ranger what we were there for, and he handed me his stamps and told me to go to town.  Afterwards we went to Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park.

I can't even show you a picture of the official state park sign, because there was none.  This has to be the oddest little state park I've ever been to.  It is in the middle of a run-down residential area, and if you aren't careful you'll park in the driveway of a private residence.  Still, it's a state park!  In fact, Yellow Bluff Fort was never actually a fort, but a fortified encampment used by both the Union and Confederate troops during the Civil War.  I'm not exactly sure what differentiates between a fort and a fortified encampment, really.  All I know is, we went there and had a great picnic lunch!

This park is small, only 1.3 acres.  There are several cannon on display, a few picnic tables, a memorial, and not much else.  And that's okay, really.  We wandered around and took in the beautiful trees and clear sky.

And that was pretty much it.  After lunch and wandering we made a stop at Gander Mountain.  And then...home.  Like I mentioned earlier, these parks didn't really leave me with special memories.  Don't get me wrong...we spent a lovely, albeit hot, day with our great friends.  And Chris being better made it even sweeter.  Still, these weren't my favorite parks to visit.  And the great thing about that is, that's all part of the adventure.  Sometimes you get a dud.  But we're still going to get out there and see what else this great state has to offer us.

And maybe then....

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