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Ascent of Kelly Park High Point on 2015-03-01

Climber: William Musser

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Sunday, March 1, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Kelly Park High Point
    Location:USA-Florida
    Elevation:85 ft / 25 m

Ascent Trip Report

This is a really nice park especially if you can see it on a day like today where there was hardly anyone there. IN summer it can be a madhouse packed with people tubing the river. Today, on a Sunday and the first day of March, I had to mostly to myself, especially the trails. I found more hilly terrain in here than I have found anywhere on public lands in central Florida so was able to create a long circuitous path through many different ecosystems, around and down to the river and the springhead, and even through a dozen deep sinkholes.

I parked about half the way up and then hiked down to the springhead to make my starting TH. This is a unique springhead. It does not bubble out from a collapsed karst feature like all the others in the area, it comes out of some clay and limestone rocks in wall and the formations of rock are quite interesting. The river has been altered at the beginning of the run to allow people access to tube.

I crossed the bridge and headed up on the yellow trails and hiked around awhile and eventually hiked up and back to the old fence line along the southern boundary of the park with the Wekiva State Park. I saw 2 very large white tailed deer. I hiked up to the highpoint along the fence line and then headed back down to the yellow trail across the rive once again and then followed the yellow trail to the northern most service road. Headed back down towards the river and fences and signs stopped me from touching river so I hiked up to the camp grounds.

The park has recently taken over Camp Joy and you can hike that entire area North of the park. But better yet, Florida Community Trust purchased the higher laurel oak and longleaf pine woods on the other side of the paved road at the park entrance. Te park's highpoint has now shifted west to the boundary fence far behind the fire station. This adds a lot of trails. One can hike all day in the park now from the springs and river up to he highlands.

On my way, I meandered through the karst area of the park and found a half dozen sinkholes that were quite impressive. They varied form 15 feet to 40 feet deep. I have investigated a lot of sinkholes before, but some of the ones in this part of the woods were particularly steep and when wet with rain hard to go down and get back up. Finally, a place to work the legs with some vertical gain in the central FL area. I was also surpised in the collapse karst density. There were places with back to back to back sinkholes.

Crossing the road, I was not sure where the trails go from here. There are no trespassing signs everywhere and no continuous markers on the two tracts. Finally I strayed over to the fire station site and sure enough, there was a TH entrance on the north border of the fire station. The trust purchased all this extra property but have yet to take down all the signs threatening you by the Board of County Commissioners with Trespassing. There are plenty of nice trails back on the western track. The blue trail takes you to the highpoint along the western fence line. More sinkholes to play in but not nearly as deep as the ones over by the camping areas. Saw another deer on the way back and a few more sinkholes along the out track where a beautiful dog followed me along the fence line half sounding menacing and half playful. Took a circuitous route route back to the car including one last visit to the springhead.

In all, I registered more than 4 miles of hiking and even though the net gain from the springhead to the HP was only 57 feet, I was able to treat my legs to nearly 500 feet of total gain by using as much of the meandering hilly lands and sinkholes as possible. I will return to this area again.

One other note, this area is full of black bears. I few years ago, a bunch of our kids and dads were group camping in the park and playing night tag. I was chaperoning the daughters and my buddy Bill had all of the dad's sons. Big Bill liked to take the boys up in the trees to make it harder. The girls team with me as their chaperon, snuck up on the tree where we could clearly here my Big Bill (all 230 pounds of him) and the boys hiding. We ran at the tree yelling "we got you Big Bill!" and as we closed in on the tall tree we could hear them all scurrying down the tree - they came down faster than heck, bark flying off the tree and Big Bill scattered in one direction and the boys in other directions.

Of course, we had flashlights but the rules were you can only use them for safety or in an emergency. I chased after my big buddy, the girls split off and chased each of the retreating boys. We had played with game on campouts for a decade. No big deal. Suddenly something did not seem right. My brain started to remind me that my Big Bill did not run on 4 legs but normally on 2. I stopped and turned on my flashlight and I was closing in on a mother black bear. About that time I heard the shrieks of the girls as they realized they were not chasing the boys. We had apparently completely freaked out a mother bear and her cubs and they jumped out of the tree and worse we now separated them!

The next 60 seconds was chaos as I ran back and gathered up all "my cubs" and we could see the mother bear rounding up all of her cubs. We all got out of there fast with no injury and ran back to camp to tell the rest of the dads. Big Bill and the boys as it turned out played a sneaky trick and went and hid in the other direction and we never found them. As we told our story in excitement, none of the dads really believed we had done that. about then, a ranger drove up with his lights on in a cart, got out and said, "oh yea, we forgot to tell you guys that we have an active mother bear and cubs on the other side of the road over there and we suggest you guys stay away from that woods." We all assured him we would and did not offer that we had just accidentally met her and her cubs. All the dads looked at me and the girls and said "oh no! that really happened? better not tell the moms"

Needless to say, we have never played night hide and tag in an area with bears again, and I hike very diligently in those woods now.


Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:482 ft / 146 m
    Total Elevation Loss:465 ft / 141 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4.3 mi / 6.9 km
    Grade/Class:1 & 2
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Weather:Drizzle, Cool, Calm, Low Clouds
65 F and raining and drizzling
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:357 ft / 108 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 57 ft / 17 m; Extra: 300 ft / 91m
    Loss on way in:300 ft / 91 m
    Distance:3 mi / 4.8 km
    Route:various trails and roads
    Start Trailhead:maint road down by river  28 ft / 8 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:165 ft / 50 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 40 ft / 12 m; Extra: 125 ft / 38m
    Gain on way out:125 ft / 38 m
    Distance:1.3 mi / 2.1 km
    Route:various trails and roads
    End Trailhead:maint road down by river  45 ft / 13 m



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