Vincent and I both enjoy hiking and taking the dog out.
This is the perfect time of year in Florida to get outside- the weather is perfect and there are tons of animals out. I was working on a blog assignment for one of my clients, and it required that I visit Edward Medrard Conservation Park in Plant City. I had never been to this particular park and neither had Vincent. On a beautiful Monday morning, we packed up the dog and headed out.
To enter the park, you must pay $2 per vehicle.
This is pretty standard for Hillsborough County parks. We drove in about a half a mile before we saw signage for “Singing Bluffs” and a trail marker. There was a parking area just off the side of the road next to the signage, so we parked and got our things together for our hike.
You don’t have to walk very far to encounter the breathtaking reservoir that is the main focus of the park.
We only had to walk 200 yards to find this water view. The very first thing we noticed was a gator. I trekked down the bank 50 yards and found another 2 gators. There were literally gators everywhere. If you are faint of heart, this trail might not be great for you. There is no meaningful separation between you and the gators. Also, it is critical you keep an eye on your kids and dogs leashed. It would be very easy for one of the gators to do what gators do and snatch up something small. Jamie, Vincent’s dog, is so oblivious to gators that she would 100% be gator bait if we let her off leash.
Off of the main loop trail, there are several smaller out-and-back trails.
These trails primarily end at water viewing areas. However, one in particular caught my attention. After walking a short distance walking down this trail, we came upon a huge group of vultures fighting over something. I’m not much of a bird person, but I LOVE vultures and condors. I crept up to get a picture, but failed to get a really good one. Once they had fled from my failed photographic attempts, we checked out what they were fighting over- a nasty rotted out catfish!
From this spot, we also had a perfect view of the rookery just accross the water from us. A rookery is a place where a large number of birds go to nest. Rookeries are usually in places that are challenging for predators to get to, such as the marshy island these birds were located on.
As we continued on the trail, the was no shortage of gorgeous views and animal viewing opportunities.
We saw tons of gators, turtles, and a wide variety of bird species. If you want to take the naturalist in your life on a hike that they will love, this is the park for you. The trail has ample tree cover, so avoiding the oppressive Florida sun is easy. The only caveat we have with this trail is that there are some parts that are very rooty, have significant elevation changes, or require bending or crouching. Keep this in mind before deciding to undertake this hike.
There are many other ways to enjoy Edward Medard Conservation Park that we did not take on that day.
This includes disc golf, fishing, a playground, a boardwalk, a beach volleyball court, picnic shelters, and equestrian trails (their website specifies you have to BYO-horse, though). We will have to return with Chase to check out the playground and boardwalk one day soon!