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Magnolia Creek Hike, QT alternate

Anyone can hike the Florida Trail. The Nokuse Section is somewhat difficult to complete since it is about 18 miles between the west end at Hwy 331 and the east end at Hwy 81. The Hollington trailhead in the center divides the section into two 9-mile one-way hikes, either east or west. Two campsites, about half-way into either leg of the trail, shorten the daily distance if you can backpack for two, three, or four days. However the conference offered two shorter day hikes of four miles each, using trucks on Nokuse back roads to bring and retrieve hikers from starting and ending points, using old work accesses not usually available to the public.

This hike was part of the North Florida Regional Fall Conference of the Florida Trail Association, Choctawhatchee and Western Gate Chapters. It was on the Florida National Scenic Trail starting at the junction of the trail with Owl's Head road at 9:30 AM, October 24, 2009. It continued south. For this hike, the Section leaders had a key to the gate at the Bill Brown Wells towers road of the water management district. Cars and trucks fit for back country unpaved roads drove to the hike start on Owl's Head road. At hike's end, close to the confluence of Magnolia Creek and Lafayette Creek, trucks returned us to the hike start and the water management gate. See the locations on a Google map.

The Nokuse Plantation is the largest private reforestation project east of the Mississippi. The land is being restored to its native character and is a sanctuary for wildlife. The Florida Trail is the only public access to this conservation area.

The trail was dry even though it intersected Magnolia Creek at least five times. Thick planks served as bridges. Between crossings, we climbed to either side of the ravine through forest for views of meadows beyond. These open spaces are the result of commercial use that cleared the native forest. When the Nokuse plantation is restored, these areas will be reforested. We saw many small longleaf pines started.

Features that appear between creek accesses in this video are extensive deer lichen, a steephead, the Steephead Campsite, plants and sandy mounds, and a spectacular meadow saturated with yellow flowers.

This was a morning hike. In the afternoon, a companion hike started near the end of this one and continued east along Lafayette Creek for four miles. See the Lafayette Creek Hike and Hollington Rd. East Hike videos.

The hike crosses Magnolia Creek several times, rising to the edge of the ravine on either side, detours to view a steephead from around the rim and ends at a pit area where sea shell fossils are found. This part of the trail is in a water management district in the Nokuse Section. Archery hunting season was open but we did not see any hunters or arrows.

These views of the Florida National Scenic Trail are from NW Florida, the panhandle. To see the referenced movie on this page, you need QuickTime 7+, available at http://www.apple.com/quicktime/. Update now. The more recent the version, the better the playing. Alternatively, see a QuickTime web or Flash version.

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