JW Corbett Wildlife Management Area

With seminars at work, things going on around the house, it’d been a long time since I just took a day to go exploring.  I really miss doing that! I’ve always wanted to visit JW Corbett natural area so today we headed out there.

From Martin County, I took the Pratt Whitney Road to the Beeline highway. Then headed south to Northlake Blvd. Then west on Northlake till it ends. There are no signs at the end of Northlake, but you need to take a right and go north. The road turns to dirt and you’ll be on your way soon.

At the gate, you’ll need to either pay $3/person or $6/vehicle. With two people and one vehicle, either way it was $6. I placed the receipt on my windshield, briefly looked at the map and headed off.

Laurie is studying Florida native plants so this was a perfect time for her to catch up without being rushed. 

Heading down the dirt road not more than a mile or so, we took a right and headed toward the Hungry Land Slough boardwalk. Initially the trail was wide open with sporadic pine trees. Along the way, we saw a large pileated wood pecker hanging out high in a tree. Pileated wood peckers are large black birds with bright red heads. They don’t fly like regular birds either. They flap their wings once, then coast, and then flap their wings once. It’s just enough to keep them afloat.

Leaving that boardwalk, we continued along the trail and came to a fork so we took the right one hoping it was a loop. We came to another very long boardwalk, but the scenery was dramatically different. Here the Cypress trees were tall and thick. Wax myrtle and other species of growth filled in the area. Just a few minutes ago, we could see in all directions and now we were in a dense forest.

I love being in the forest.  The way the light makes it way to the ground and the clean fresh smell of the foliage is just relaxing. You can really gain some new insights if you just let go of everything and soak up the surroundings.

The boardwalk meandered through the forest curving around and through the dense foliage. Along the way there were benches to stop and just take it all in. Today there was a nice breeze and low humidity so we were free from those pesky mosquitos and other flying annoyances.

We exited this boardwalk right onto the forest floor and immediately it felt 10 degrees cooler. It was darker, cooler, and I felt so connected being here. The boardwalk kept you high up, but here on the forest floor you became one with the area.

Another boardwalk stretched before us and along the way I saw a white cup and lid off in the distance. People!! I climbed over the rail, retrieved the trash, and climbed back onto the boardwalk. I continued to find trash along the way and it always amazes me the trash I find in the woods.

Turned out the trail was indeed a loop and we began the trip back. I looked up and high in the sky was a group of white birds riding the thermals. The white birds in formation against the blue sky looked like a scene you’d see in the Serengeti. It was a group of Wood storks, who are very large birds with black heads, black wing tips and black feet. They were just flying free wherever the wind took them.

After that beautiful hike, we head down the dirt road which seemed to split the area in two. As the dirt road progressed, we kept seeing trails going every direction. Trails through the forests, trails into the wet lands, trails into who knows were. Some had signs saying “road closed” and others were wide open and obviously well used with recent tracks.  .

At one point, I turned off onto a well-used trail that went into the woods. Maybe a quarter mile down the road, we came to a field of beautiful yellow flowers. Of course we stopped to take pictures.

A few minutes later, Florida Wildlife Commission pulled up behind me.  I figured he wanted me to move. Uh, no….apparently I’m not supposed to drive on those well marked trails unless it’s hunting season, I have a hunting permit, it’s the 5th day of the 10th month, the moon is in phase, etc.  He was polite and we shared photography stories. but I still received a $55 fine.

I was a bit miffed because I wasn’t tearing up the trail and even had a pile of trash in the back that I’d been picking up along the way. So the lesson is to follow the rules and  don’t think because you’re not destroying the area, they’ll just ask you to leave.

That little incident put a damper on the exploring mood to say the least. Now we weren’t sure the difference between a road or just a very, very well used trail. I didn’t want to risk another fine, so I just stayed on the gravel road. In my opinion, if the public shouldn’t be on a road put up a sign and keep the signs consistent!

We drove the next 10 miles down the road and saw tons of alligators along the canals and a variety of flowers ranging from yellow to pink to orange.

The last stretch of the road has several camping areas that even have floating docks. It appears you can launch kayaks from there, but I didn’t see any signs to confirm or deny that assumption. Lord knows, we weren’t going to make any more assumptions that day…..

As we left the dirt road and hit the pavement, there was that feeling of “civilization” and returning home. As I looked at the dirt road in my rear view mirror, I could feel a part of me being left behind.

I enjoy the comforts of civilization, but those dirt roads just keep calling my name.

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