Planning field trips

Fieldtrip to the Ichetucknee

by Frank Bouchard

The closest canoe rentals are “Ichetucknee Cabins and Campgrounds” also
known as the Jesus fish place.

They will transport the canoes and people to and from the river.
Call a week beforehand to reserve boats. Directions are on the website.

The cost is $16 per person for boat rentals and $5 per person river use fee.

The drive there is about 40 minutes each way and the paddle takes between 2
and 3 hours, depending on how much you want to play around. Bring swim
suits!

The best time to go to see wildlife is either before Memorial Day or after
Labor Day, otherwise it’s nothing but a sea of inner tubes.

Fieldtrip to Seahorse Key Marine Laboratory (SHK)

by Leslie Babonis

About SHK:
Seahorse Key is a great place to take visiting faculty, students, or other guests.
It’s just over an hour away from the university on the Gulf Coast and is home to lots
of interesting invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants. There are bathroom facilities
on the island but there is no drinking water so be sure take enough of your own to get
you through your stay. Other recommended items to bring: sunscreen, sunglasses, hat,
food, water, sturdy shoes (for walking in forest or on loose sand), camera, binoculars,
field guides (birds, plants, and seashore animals will be most useful).
For more information, check out the SHK website

Note: there are venomous cottonmouth snakes (Agkistrodon piscivorus, aka: “water moccasins”)
on the island, please be very careful where you walk. These animals are very common
and like to hang out in the grass and on the sand (exactly where we like to hang out).
Unless disturbed, these animals are very docile and tend to keep to themselves.
If you see one, take a picture (if you like) and walk on by.

Preparation: Reserve a van or truck, if necessary. Make sure someone is a certified driver.
It takes just about 1.25 hrs to get from UF to SHK and it’s very important to be on time if you are
meeting a boat driver (Henry or Al) at the dock. Make sure to call one of the boat drivers ahead of
time to arrange a pickup.

Directions:
Take SR 24 (Archer Road) west and drive for just over an hour (you’ll cross SR 27/41 and US 19/98).
When you see the ocean, you’re in Cedar Key (literally, it’s that easy). Cross over several bridges
(enjoy the view!) and when you get to the Blue Market on the corner of SR 24 and 3rd Street,
take a left. Take your first left on B street. Park on the grass near the dock. (See map below.)

cedarKeyMap

Credit: Cindy Svec (http://visitcedarkey.com)

Field Trip to Big Shoals State Park

by Ryan McCleary

About Big Shoals:
Big Shoals is a nice place to visit if hiking is a priority (although there are biking trails as well).
It is an interesting part of the Suwannee River, as it flows through many rapids areas, has a class 3
waterfall, and has very brown water that looks like tea (due to the high concentration of tannins).
It has a nice hiking trail from which you can see lots of wildlife (especially cool birds).
There is also the chance for encounters with amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and various inverts.
You should bring water, appropriate clothing (for Florida conditions), and binoculars.

Preparation:
Reserve a van or truck, if necessary. Make sure someone is a certified driver. It takes
just about 1 hour and 5 minutes to get from UF to Big Shoals. The cost of admission is
$3.00 per vehicle (regardless of number in vehicle).

Directions:
From I-75, take Exit 439 to Hwy 136 East. Go three (3) miles to US 41 and turn right.
Go one (1) mile and turn left on Hwy 135. Little Shoals entrance is about 1.1 mile on the right.
Continue on Hwy 135 for 2.2 miles for Godwin Bridge entrance on the right. From I-10, take Exit 301
and travel 8 miles on US 41 North. Turn right onto Hwy 135 and proceed to the Shoals entrances.

For More Information:
Check out the website at:
http://www.floridastateparks.org/bigshoals/default.cfm

Field Trip to Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

by Ryan McCleary

About Homosassa Springs:
Homosassa Springs is part state park, part animal exhibit. They do some research on
manatees there, and you can see them at the proper times of the year. In some ways,
it is really nice, and in others it isn’t. There is a slight zoo feel to the place,
even though it is a state park. You can see lots of great wildlife (some wild, some
in captivity), so bring binoculars. They have educational materials and facilities,
including a reptile house and children’s center. They also have wildlife encounter
times with park personnel discussing some of the wildlife. It is a great place to
see manatees up close (during the right time of year), but they also have exotics
such as hippopotamuses.

Preparation:
Reserve a van or truck, if necessary. Make sure someone is a certified driver.
It takes just about 1.5 hours to get from UF to the park. The cost of admission
is $9.00 per person, unless you have a group of 10 or more (then, $6.00 per person).
This cost means you have to either get departmental approval to pay for it, or have
everyone know they need to bring money.

Directions:
There are multiple ways to get there, but possibly the fastest would be taking
Archer Rd (state road 24) to Otter Creek. Turn left (south) on to US 19. Homosassa
Springs Wildlife State Park is located in Homosassa Springs, 75 miles north of Tampa
on U.S. 19 and 90 miles northwest of Orlando.

For More Information:
Check out the website at:
http://www.floridastateparks.org/homosassasprings/default.cfm

Fieldtrip to Paynes Prairie

by Natalie Wright

About Paynes Prairie: Paynes Prairie is a state park just minutes from UF. There’s a variety of habitat types to enjoy, and three different entrances to choose from, depending on what you want to see and do. La Chua Trail passes through open prairie and alongside waterways, where many alligators and wading birds can be seen. Bolen Bluff Trail is a hike through oak hammock, with an offshoot trail into the open prairie, and often has good bird watching. The main entrance to the park offers several trails along water and open prairie, as well as an overlook tower, but costs an entrance fee. Any one of these trails is great for a couple hours of walking, and being so close to UF and free means you have time and money to take the group out to lunch before or afterwards. Paynes Prairie is an especially good choice if time is an issue.

Preparation: If you want, you can reserve a van, but Paynes Prairie is close enough that people usually carpool. Like all state parks, Paynes Prairie opens at 8am and closes at sunset.

Directions: To go to La Chua Trail, the best weekend access is parking at the Gainesville-Hawthorn bike trailhead, Boulware Springs Park. From UF, make your way to SE 15th St (e.g., University Ave to SR 20 to SE 15th St). Heading south on SE 15th St, Boulware Springs Park will be on the right. Park and walk south along the trail until you come to the La Chua Trailhead. To get to Bolen Bluff Trail, drive south on SW 13th St, through the open prairie. Parking for Bolen Bluff Trail is on the left — there’s a left turn lane to get into the parking lot. The main entrance to Paynes Prairie is off 13th St as well — go past the entrance to Bolen Bluff Trail and Lake Walburg, and the entrance will be on your left.