Saturday, February 18, 2017

Anclote River Park, 2/16/2017

After a couple days of chilly (for this area) and rainy days, we were anxious to spend some time enjoying the outdoors in the sunshine. Anclote River Park is about 25 miles west from where we are staying in Lutz, FL. 

It is a 23-acre park with a public fishing pierplayground, picnic shelters with grills, and nice horseshoe pits

The swimming area is roped off with a sandy beach along the Anclote River

This little lighthouse is situated where the channel meets the Anclote River. Sailboats are moored near here (although one sunk!) and there is a dock for non-motorized boats. The red-rope barrier that can be seen in the distance is to protect the West Indian Manatees that sometimes come to the area when the water in the Gulf is to cold for them (below 68 degrees). 

I loved seeing all of the pelicans in the area! Also shown is a large osprey nest where we saw a couple of chicks poking their heads out. 

One of the few remaining midden mounds built by the Timucuan people (considered the last mound builders) can be seen in the park. The following artifacts have been found in other mounds excavated in the area: skeletons, tools, weapons, flint, rock crystal and stone-like jade, spear and arrow points, knives, and club stones. It is illegal to dig in this area. 

The Timucuan lived in the area when the Spanish and other settlers arrived from 1500 to 1750, but had disappeared by 1800. They were killed by early explorers, other tribes, and the diseases brought to America from Europe. 

As we were leaving this part of Anclote River Park, we saw this cute tiny library where the concept is "take a bookreturn a book." We have seen these elsewhere in our travels and I always think it's a great idea!

We drove about 1.2 miles north to the part of the park where there is a large, fenced-in, dog park. There are three separate areas; one for small dogs and one for large. At the opposite end of both, is a gate to a larger area for all dogs, that has canine agility playsets and lots of room to run. Sadie would only go up the ramp if John did also. And forget the rings, she just kept going under them. 

The rest of this part of the park is not dog-friendly. Another playground and picnic pavilion are located here with a bench nearby providing a view of the river.

We drove a short distance north to the Key Vista Nature Park to do some hiking on the Great Florida Birding Trail. First we followed the Rocky Creek Loop trail

Boardwalks have been built along portions of the trail. We continued along the banks of Rocky Creek until it emptied into the Gulf of Mexico, enjoying this peaceful setting. 

The trail continued along the shores of the Gulf where Sadie enjoyed a short swim

We climbed to the top of the Observation Tower to enjoy the beautiful views of the area. You can see the large fishing pier in the distance in the photo below. 

Many osprey were flying above us in the area, looking for fish in the water. They were magnificant! What a picturesque setting. 

The trail continues along the Gulf coast for a short distance where we reached the long boardwalk. It continues through the preserve to an area near the dog park we had visited earlier. 

When we reached the end of the boardwalk, we saw a sign that said "No Dogs" on the boardwalk. Yikes! We had seen a half dozen other dogs on the boardwalk, too. It turns out there is no sign at the opposite end of the boardwalk (in Key Vista Nature Park) where we began. And we had spoken to a park ranger at Anclote River Park who had told us that leashed dogs were permitted in Key Vista. Oh well, we retraced our steps on the boardwalk.

We continued along the trail to the parking lot. And there was another tiny library, here, too!

There is a self-pay $2 parking fee, per vehicle, per day at each of the parks, but once paid at one of them it covers parking in all three. A receipt is issued at the self-pay kiosk that is displayed in your car window. 

We enjoyed the beauty of this area in Holiday, FL. For more information about the Anclote River Park, go to the following site: Information about Key Vista Nature Preserve can be found here: 

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