It is important to say that Brooker Creek Headwaters Preserve is not the same place as Brooker Creek Preserve. The latter is well-known because it receives a lot of press, but when it comes to the former, the only people who seem to know about it are a handful of the ones who live in its immediate vicinity.
Located in northwestern
Do not let the preserve’s name and purpose mislead you into assuming that it is one hundred percent wetlands, for nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, it contains some hardwood swamp, but it also has oak forests, pine flatwoods, and tall-grass prairies.
There are five roadside entrances to Brooker Creek Headwaters, but only two of them have parking: One on Lutz Lake Fern and the other on
No less than 5½ miles of interconnected trails traverse the interior of Brooker Creek Headwaters. These are not trails in the traditional sense of narrow footpaths crowded by vegetation -- rather, they are unpaved Jeep roads that vehicles can not access, thanks to locked gates at the entry points.
Generally speaking, the center of the tract has most of the open, prairie-like terrain, whose soft earth I find especially amenable to trail running. That terrain is encircled by a variety of forest types extending to the boundaries. Damp spots are found intermittently through all of the forests, but more so in the eastern parts of the preserve than in the western. Palmetto, joined by longleaf pine, is common in the southwestern quarter, while a mixture of oaks and deciduous trees dominates the southeast.
Bird lovers might be interested to know that I have seen many kestrels in the southwestern quarter. Only seven to eight inches long, kestrels rank as
Brooker Creek Headwaters is a fine place to spend a couple hours outside, and to be satisfied that you are experiencing a piece of the
A printable trail map can be found here, or you can pick one up from the information kiosk at the Ramblewood entrance. The maps are generally reliable, but be aware that they are not one hundred percent accurate because there are a few trails which do not appear on them. If you turn onto one of those trails you could find yourself scratching your head for a bit; but fortunately, given the preserve’s trail density, trail signage, and location, you will not be lost long if that happens.
As Roy Rogers once sang: Happy Trails!