Early morning is also prime time for spotting wildlife because nocturnal and diurnal animals are both up, the former going about their final rounds while the latter go about their first. After taking the above photograph last Saturday, I headed deeper into the forest and within moments realized I was in the middle of a deer herd. Crashing sounds erupted as deer fled in every direction. Their telltale white tails were held up like warning flags, making them easy to spot even though it was dim under the trees.
Having accessed the Main Trail from the so-called Hole in the Fence Trailhead, I was walking along a section of it that is farther west than those I wrote about in my November 29th and December 6th posts. This particular section intersects with numerous side trails, not all of which are named, and some of those intersect with each other at points farther afield. This results in what outdoortravel.com describes by saying: “This is an extensive, crisscrossing trail network. Keep in mind, you will probably get marginally lost at least once.”
Not to worry, though. If you stick to the Main Trail you will be fine; and if you want to venture off of it but aren’t comfortable with your navigating skills, simply follow the directions in this post. There will be lots of good sights no matter what:
Less than a tenth of a mile after starting your hike you will see a side path on the right with a sign that reads: “Hikers Only – Fishing Trail.” It leads 0.2 miles to the
0.6 miles from the trailhead, shortly after passing a signboard on your right, you will come to an intersection with a trail that is unsigned. To the left, it travels through a flat field into the woods on the other side. To the right, it travels up onto an undulating bluff that looks like a
If you take the “mountain biker’s route” you will find that it goes up and down for several quick successions along the top of the bluff, one of which is pictured here:
At one point I stepped off the trail on the mountain biker’s route, went part of the way down the bluff, and took this picture looking back up at Sarah:
The mountain biker’s route is not particularly long, intersecting first with the Misery Trail and then with the Gator Bait Trail. Turn left on the Gator Bait and it takes you on a jaunt through low-lying murky woods before meeting back up with the Main Trail at a junction where one sign points back in the direction you came from and says “To Misery – To Gator Bait.” Meanwhile, another sign points to the beginning of the Indian Trail. The whole side trip totals 0.8 miles.
If you choose to skip the side trip and remain on the Main Trail, you will come to this same junction 0.65 miles after passing the one where the mountain biker’s route began. Along the way you will pass through the second-growth forest pictured below, where I once saw a trio of deer run toward a field you can just barely make out in the background. When I set out toward that field hoping to see more deer, I crossed another trail whose name and destination I do not know.
For my money, however, what really sticks out about the Indian Trail is the beauty through which it travels. Clocking in at just under one mile, its entire course ranks as the single prettiest stretch of trail I have seen in Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve:
After three-quarters of a mile the Grandpa finally intersects the Main Trail at signpost 10. From there, a left turn on the Main leads 1.3 miles back to Hole in the Fence Trailhead, while a right turn takes you approximately 2.7 miles to Morris Bridge Park. Alternately, you can shave about 0.4 miles off your return to Hole in the Fence by going straight and remaining on the Grandpa until it intersects the Main Trail at another point further west.
You should know this about your return to Hole in the Fence: Shortly after going back past the intersection with the mountain biker’s route, the Main Trail forks and the signpost clearly indicates that you may go either direction and both are considered parts of the Main Trail (I assume the forks re-converge later on). However, a subsequent sign along the left fork reads “one way do not enter.” Feel free to ignore that sign and stay on the left fork – it is the one you came in on, is the wider of the two, and people are always going both ways on it.
To reach Hole in the Fence, turn east onto