Nature Walks – Tomoka State Park and Other Wanderings
Another day, another drive to visit a State Park. I bought an Annual Pass so I want to get my money’s worth out of it!
Today’s subject was Tomoka State Park, located at the NW edge of Ormond Beach. The park can be reached by following Old Dixie Highway south or Beach Drive north along the Halifax River or Intercoastal Waterway. Beach Drive goes through a beautiful old neighborhood lined with multi-million dollar homes on the waterfront and pleasant ranch houses on the inland side.
The park itself is situated on a peninsula that juts out along the Tomoka River, a large brackish body of water located on the northern edge of Ormond Beach. The peninsula started out as a grassy sand bar and steadily grew to where it now contains a mixed pine, oak and hardwoods hammock. A sandy access road takes you along the length of the peninsula, with cut-offs to various camping and picnic areas. There is a public boat ramp aside the Park Store (closed on Wednesdays!). The access road ends in a small parking lot. Nearby, there is a 1/2 mile long Nature Trail, which has been extended with a “return” loop. Various casual trails access the shoreline, which has a white sand beach along the shore of the river. The beach is swiftly becoming overgrown with Red Cedar and other small trees and shrubs. Swimming is not recommended as alligators are present in the brackish water. There is what appears to be good fishing in the dark brown waters of the river and its various inlets. Canoes and kayaks can be rented at the Park Store. There is a fee to enter the Park. There is a six-mile canoe trail present on the Tomoka River.
I walked the length of the Nature Trail and discovered the extension trail which added slightly to the mileage. Then I explored the shoreline a bit and drove the length of another small peninsula that defines the primary picnic area. There are no restrooms in the picnic area. Sites are spread out and separated by shrubs and small trees.
After my explorations of Tomoka SP, I drove north on Old Dixie Highway, across the river and through some marshy and forested areas until reaching Bulow Woods State Park, the location of the Fairchild Oak, as well as the Wahlin Nature Trail and Bulow Woods Trail. I walked along the Nature Trail, my first opportunity since coming to Florida. It was a bit mangled from the recent hurricane, but a quiet place with some benches along the path. Then I started out on the Bulow Woods Trail with the intention of going as far as the Cedar Creek Bridge. About 1.5 miles further along, one reaches Walter Boardman Lane where another trailhead is located. The Bulow Woods Trail is over six miles long, extending north to the Bulow Plantation State Park. I have walked almost the entire trail system now. Despite the damage taken to the area from the storm, it is still a very nice walk in a lovely woods. Again, I didn’t see much in the way of wildlife except some fishing birds at Cedar Creek.
My little explorations bagged about 4 to 5 miles of walking today, so I felt like I had accomplished some good exercise. And, of course, I took some photos. Reflecting on how much I’ve learned since moving into the area in late May, it feels like I’ve been in Florida much longer.
We’re half way through November, Christmas is just five weeks away! How “time” flies when you’re having fun!
Blessings to all,
All Rights Reserved, Eliza Ayres, http://www.bluedragonjournal.com
Photo Credits: Tomoka and Bulow Woods State Parks, Volusia County, Florida