Dicromantispa interrupta

Dicromantispa interrupta

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Needle Palm Creek

Last Sunday I explored in the SE part of San Felasco Hammock State Park that lies north of Millhopper Road. I parked in the hiking parking lot and rode my bike 1.5 miles east along Millhopper, darted into the woods and hid the bike. The day’s goals were to explore the highlands-karst transitional zone in sections 7 and 8, T9 R19. As usual, I found clear water streams fed by seeps, sinkholes and feral pigs. Following one stream northward to Blue’s Creek, I then turned ESE and followed Blue’s to Fox Pond, a recent addition to the park.

The total hike was about 7.6 miles, and I gotta tell you that I am soooo glad I pedaled 3 miles or I would have had to walk over 10. I have been ranging further and further from the trailheads, both hiking and biking, and am nearly at my sore feet’s limit. There may be places in San Felasco that I never get to see. Oh, the sorrow!

I am calling the first creek I walked down Needle Palm Creek in honor of the large, glossy, abundant palms at the toe of the feeder seeps and along the first quarter-mile or so of the stream. Here is a pic of Needle Palm Seep with attendant palm:

These seep streams join other seepage discharges to form a second order streams. This is where I ate lunch beside three log bridges:

I ran across several sinkhole ponds containing water, buttonbush and graminoids that were evidently just right for cricket frogs (Acris gryllus) and spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) to form mating choruses. Man, were they loud! I flushed a few deer along the way, including this one-antlered male that patiently waited until my camera was ready. He then he let me take exactly one picture before he bounded off:

The pigs I encountered were not too afraid of me. My current MO is to pretty much ignore them as I walk by so they will neither see me as a threat to attack nor a hunter to fear. My plan is to be able to get close to them without fear of injury so that one day if/when I get permission it will be easier to cull them.

If you want a walk of solitude, I can assure you that these SE creeks are rarely visited. Along the shoulders of their ravines are game trails that you can easily find and walk. Oh, it won’t be a cake walk – there is plenty of brush, fallen logs and vine tangles, but for the most part, it is wild and pleasant.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I like the write-ups of your explorations around Florida's great outdoors. Seems like your opinion would carry some weight in this regard:

    My wife and I may have an extra day to spend next month at the end of a trip that will mostly be spent visiting manatees near Crystal River. Where (roughly between Crystal River and Orlando) would you recommend we spend that day, to see something more of Florida's natural offerings? Halpata Tastanaki Park? Lake Panasoffkee? Are there any interesting or beautiful places to stay in the area?

    Jim M.
    New York City

    January 28, 2010 10:44 PM

  3. Jim,
    If you like paddling: Withlacoochee R, salt marshes from Cedar Key to Chassahowitzka NWR, L Panasofkee used to be crystal clear but I don't know about now. For dayhiking, try Half Moon or Chassahowitzka NWR. Enjoy your stay!

  4. Buford,

    Thanks much! Chassahowitzka seems so close to Homosassa that we'll be closer to it during the prior week. Maybe we'll take it in then. Do you know if it's possible to rent a kayak from anyone there?

    For our last day, we're looking to spend a night somewhere interesting a bit further east. Unfortunately, my allergies to cats and dogs seems to preclude some of the otherwise enticing B&B options, but I'm waiting to hear back from the Running Deer Lodge in Inverness and the Heritage House in Floral City.

    Do you know anything about Flying Eagle Ranch? It seems like a big expanse of territory, but web searches are not telling me whether or not it's privately owned, what is there to see or whether it can be visited.

    Thanks again,


  5. Jim,

    Apologies for the tardy reply, but I am working up to 14hrs daily and I need my sleep! :-)

    I know nothing about Flying Eagle Ranch. Chaz boat ramp folks have canoes, but I don't think they have kayaks. But I could be wrong and often am.

    A friend, Brack Barker, is a guide for hire with many kayaks. His email is brack154@msn.com


  6. Thanks much, Buford.

    Hey, I thought you were a retired environmental consultant...

    No need to apologize for the delay anyway. I just put in a week in Chicago before arriving back in NY, so I could be hit by the same snowstorm twice!

    Running Deer Lodge came through. We're set. Will check with Brack Barker.

    Thanks again!


  7. Those palms in the pictures don't actually look like a Needle Palm. They look like Serenoa repens (Saw Palmetto) to me.

  8. In the first picture, the dark green palm on the right is a needle palm, and the one in the back-left may be a saw-palmetto (Serenoa repens). The second pic displays only saw-palmetto and the third photo records blue-stem palmetto (Sabal minor). Incidentally, cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto) is present but not pictured.