It was 58 degrees and clouds were few when I entered Cypress Creek Preserve on Sunday morning, eager to explore parts of its northern trail network that I skipped on my previous visit:
Birdsong filled the air from the very beginning. At one point, I could make out so many individual tunes within the cacophony that there had to be representatives from more than a half-dozen species singing at the same time.
If you read last week’s post, you may recall that on my previous visit I skipped the first side trail and took the second one -- and later consulted the trail map, at which time I noticed it portrays these not as separate trails but as a single one which “travels north from the paved path at milepost 0.7 and eventually curves back to the south, crossing the paved path again at milepost 1.3.”
Well, after Sunday morning’s visit I can confirm that the trail map is correct on this point. From 0.7, the trail’s horseshoe route totals about 1½ miles before its crossing at 1.3. For most of this route it travels through hardwood forests, parts of which are downright jungly. I will not claim that the girth of the following trunk equals the biggest ones I saw in the Northwest, but when I say it brings those trunks to mind, I absolutely mean it:
One word of warning: Be aware that you may have to slog through standing water if you hike this trail during the wet season, because a third of a mile from 0.7 it crosses the creekbed of Cypress Creek’s headwaters without benefit of a bridge. On Sunday the creekbed was dry, but it is sure to be flowing once the rains come; and as you know, you stand a strong chance of running into alligators and cottonmouths anywhere in this state you see water.
But anyway, continuing southward after the 1.3 crossing, the trail drops several feet downhill and enters a much drier habitat where fields of bluestem are backed by treelines of maple and pine:
This section of trail continues for its own 1½ miles before dead-ending at a fence, and along the way it is crossed by several other trails that lead to…well, right now I don’t know, but hey, that gives me a reason to come back!
In the meantime, I can tell you that another thing I learned on Sunday’s visit is that if you take the right fork where the paved trail splits (I took the left one last time) you will only go about a third of a mile before reaching its end and having to turn around.
And, I can let you know that this trail network is a primo place for viewing wildlife. After seeing lots of creatures the weekend before, Sunday’s visit turned up two pileated woodpeckers, a pair of storks, and five whitetail deer -- four of whom darted across the path no more than 30 feet in front of me.
I will leave you with a photo of a tree that my last post described as “the tallest live oak I have ever seen.” While last week’s dim light resulted in a photo that was little more than a silhouette, Sunday’s brightness did a better job revealing contrast and showing Spanish moss hanging from the branches: