Florida Day Five: Another Hike On The Old Ingraham Highway
On Sunday morning, my last day in the Everglades, I returned to Gate 15 access to the Old Ingraham Highway trail. I wanted to further explore this abandoned highway that cut through the middle of the Everglades. The trail can be accessed on the first right turn off before the Royal Palm Visitor Center. It is a dirt road on the left just past the turn. When I arrived on the dirt road I continued past the Hidden Lake Environmental Center as the sun was rising on another cool morning in South Florida with temperatures again in the low 60’s.
Driving about another mile I parked my car near Gate 15 and was hoping to hike to a primitive camp site about 3 1/2 miles south on the trail.
Soon after starting my hike I saw this hawk perched in a tree along the trail.
I again think it is a red shouldered hawk but I am not certain. It was a beautiful bird and eventually flew off in search of an early morning meal. This area was near the squirrel I saw on my previous hike and it was probably on the menu.
After seeing the hawk I continued my hike on the old Ingraham Highway. On some portions of the trail the old paved surface still exists but for the most part the trail is packed hard limestone. Views of the vast saw grass prairies, now saturated in water can be seen from the trail.
Even though is was a cool 63 degrees there was a lot more wildlife activity on this sunny morning. Sitting in this cypress tree was a kingfisher.
It was I think a red-belted kingfisher but, may be a ringed kingfisher which also lives in the Everglades.
These two wading birds did not mind each others company I believe they are a great egret and a little blue heron.
There was also a few wood storks wading in the wetlands.
And again taking flight as I approached.
Also, as I walked through the saw grass prairies I saw dozens of great blue herons, tri-colored herons,
and white egrets wading and flying in the distance on both sides of the trail. Some, however perched in the cypress trees growing along the trails. I believe this is a great egret.
Along the western side of the trail there was an old canal, obstructed by trees growing along the trail. However in some areas you could see the waters of the canals and quite a few ducks, green and great blue herons and egrets would fly off as I approached.
There were also areas where the trail had a thicker growth of trees and shrubs along both sides of the path.
The wildflowers I observed on my previous hike, the Virginia salt marsh mallow,
and oceanblue morning glories could be found in the higher and drier sections of the trail.
Growing in and around the waters were these bractless brookweed
and these aquatic flowers my Plant Identification app can’t identify.
Once again there were butterflies,
and dragonflies darting and fluttering along the trail, occasionally resting on a leaf or feeding on a flower.
The trail came to a hammock with an area of larger trees and proceeded under them in the shade from the sun. However, the trail was flooded. It was still about a mile from the primitive camp site I wanted to visit. I had on sneakers so I decided not to walk through the water and began my 2 1/2 mile hike back.
On the way back I saw a fish crow and
and a much larger American crow.
I heard the piercing cries of an osprey flying overhead and
saw this small and quiet warbler on a tree along the trail. I believe it is a yellow-rumped warbler. There were some blue herons and egrets wading in the distance as I continued my hike as the early morning sun quickly warmed up the cool morning air. Here is a link to a gallery in my blog website with more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike on the old Ingraham Highway, Florida Day Five. Everglades Gate 15 hike February 21 2021.
It was a little earlier then I planned when I returned to my car but this was okay. I was leaving the Everglades and heading to Key Largo so it gave me some time to pack and enjoy some lunch. I enjoyed my hike on the old Ingraham Highway, it’s isolation really gave me a feel for the vastness and beauty of the Everglades, such a unique ecosystem that must be protected and treasured. I hope to spend many more years exploring these trails. Here is a link to a gallery with photographs from my hike on the trail Florida Day Five: Everglades Gate 15 hike February 21 2021.
The Everglades is a test. If we pass it, we may get to keep the planet. – Marjory Stoneman Douglas