Ascent of Maclay Gardens State Park High Point on 2013-06-24

Climber: William Musser

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Monday, June 24, 2013
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Maclay Gardens State Park High Point
    Elevation:220 ft / 67 m

Ascent Trip Report

Closing in on all the County HPs in FL and being a native, I am starting to find the highpoints of the national forests and state parks next. This area in Tallahassee has some rolling terrain and ravines with some enormous un-cut trees which could of made for a nice hike. There were huge live oaks, shortleaf pines, and hickory that had not been logged. But, my plan did not work.

I pre-researched and found that that the west side of the park holds the highest ground. Because of the poor coarse topo in the area (10 foot intervals), it leaves a ridge along the western portion of the park near North Meriden Rd as the likely place for the HP. There is one closed contour that is above 230 in the NW boundary as well, but it is small thus, the more likley place for the HP is where the two 230 contour forms a wide broad ridge some 200 to 400 feet east of Meriden Rd.

There are wide hiking trails and many narrow circuitous bike trails in this area to make finding the HP easy. Or so I thought. I parked in the main recreational parking area ( where kids swim in the lake) so I could make my TH at a set USGS elevation using the water level of 137. That was my first mistake. It was a lot longer hike along the paved road down to the unpaved parking area that acesses all the trails by the power easement. It would have been easier to park there. Hot humid and drizzling and thunder clapping all around. There were not trail maps avaialble at the park office. There was no information kiosks with signs showing the trail system. Only information about ticks?

Once I found the main parking area for the trails by the power easement, I ventured out on a signed trail that led me to the middle of the power easement. I knew the main trail I wanted was a NW bearing and I did not want to add another 3 miles by doing the Lake Overstreet Trail so I did not take the north bearing trail along the power easement. That was my second mistake!

I crossed the power easement and followed to a well marked sign for a newly constructed bike trail that headed on the correct bearing. This trail was not on the internet map I could find or the laminated map the ranger showed me at the guard gate. This bike trail meandered aimlessly in every direction possible on a compass with a net NW bearing but ended up somehwere north of the Oak Knoll Subdivion and ate up all my time. Sweating profusely and lightning still cracking above, I gave up and headed back the way I came.

Returning to the power easement I then headed correctly up the north trail (called the Maclay Garden Trail) and it was wide and non-meandering and takes you to the correct junction where you can go East to NE along the Lake Overstreet Trail OR take the NW bearing trail I was looking for to the back of the property where the HP is located. Now, invested 4 miles in to the hike, nowhere near where I needed to be, out of time, wet and lightning cracking still, I abandoned the attempt and will try again next time I am in Tallahassee. I ended up with nearly 6 miles of hiking and did not come close to the HP.

The correct trails are wide and clay. Warning: the bike trails are narrow and circuitous and will eat up your day getting there so chose your paths wisely. Park in the unpaved parking lot NW of the parking for the Gardens. Otherwise, plan for a long hike. If you want to use the lake as a TH like I do. Then park at the Paved Gardens parking area and touch water at Lake Hall there.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:243 ft / 73 m
    Total Elevation Loss:243 ft / 73 m
    Round-Trip Distance:5.8 mi / 9.3 km
    Quality:2 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail
    Weather:Drizzle, Hot, Calm, Overcast
87 F humid and miserable
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:163 ft / 49 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 83 ft / 26 m; Extra: 80 ft / 24m
    Loss on way in:80 ft / 24 m
    Distance:2.9 mi / 4.7 km
    Route:Roadway to main hiking parking lot to trails
    Start Trailhead:Lake Hall Water Edge  137 ft / 41 m
    Time:45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:163 ft / 49 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 83 ft / 26 m; Extra: 80 ft / 24m
    Gain on way out:80 ft / 24 m
    Distance:2.9 mi / 4.7 km
    End Trailhead:Lake Hall Water Edge  137 ft / 41 m

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