Over the years, I’ve written a number of blog posts recounting my adventures at Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, Florida. It’s an absolute favorite spot of mine and, on most visits, I am usually blown away by the fantastic wildlife sightings and encounters I have there (especially during the more active gator season!). When I first moved to Florida a few years ago, I thought my hiking days were pretty much over – I was used to hiking mountain ridges and dense forests and Florida didn’t really have any of that. But Circle B Bar Reserve has proved to be one of my favorite hiking places of all time. On my penultimate trip there (…I recently moved house and no longer live near it! So sad!!) I got to see some baby alligators, got super close to some wildlife, and outran an incredible thunderstorm. Of course, I took pictures 😉
When I arrived at Circle B, I immediately noticed the posted signs indicating that the major trail, Alligator Alley, was closed. There wasn’t a specific reason given for the closures, but my assumption is that it had to perhaps do with the many alligators and sightings there recently. With the main trail closed, I decided to just head up the trail that leads to it, which fortunately still offers incredible views and opportunities for wildlife spotting.
The trail I walked up sits in the middle of a large wetland area. I had my infamous massive-gator-encounter here (see the gator here!) and was hoping to actually see another. There weren’t any large gators this time, but I did spot a number of baby ones! So cute!
It was gorgeous and sunny as I headed down the trail in hopes of some more wildlife sightings, as evidenced by this lovely photo here (lol):
Perfect skies, perfect temperature! It was seriously gorgeous. I continued my way down the trail and even explored part of the Alligator Alley trail until I was met with the closed-off area and warnings not to dare attempt entering it (which I did not). I did, though, make friends with a brave and fearless squirrel!
After becoming acquainted with my new squirrel friend, I began making my way back and, for the first time, noticed how extremely dark it had gotten. The sky was no longer a beautiful and clear blue, but a dark and storm grey. Thunder sounded in the distance. I was standing in an open wetland… So I booked it back to my car.
The storm that rolled through was impressive. The wind gusted so hard, Spanish moss rained down from the trees and large branches fell to the ground. I had a hard time keeping to the center of the trail as I headed back, the wind was that strong!
I made it back to my car just before it started down-pouring. The whole experience was a reminder of just how powerful mother nature can be, and how quickly a really nice day can turn really dangerous in a matter of minutes (weather in Florida is so fascinating this way!).
So, although my hike didn’t include my favorite trail and was cut short by the extreme weather, it was still an eventful and worthwhile adventure! I’ll certainly miss you, Circle B!