Short ride on the Ocean to Lake Trail

What a beautiful day! The cloudless deep blue sky and gentle breeze made it a perfect day to get outside.
Aside from just getting outside anywhere, today’s goal was to explore the section of the Ocean to Lake Trail that leaves from Riverbend Park in Jupiter Florida. I knew it was a hiking trail, but rumors had it there was a section open to bikes.

Starting in Riverbend Park, I followed the trail that goes under the bridge for Indiantown Rd. The Ocean to Lake Trail begins on the north side of Indiantown road. I sunk into the mud and spun my way out as I went through the trail entrance. This is going to be my kind of trail:) I had heard reports of this trail being very wet and at times deep. Fine by me; if you’re not getting dirty you’re not having any fun!

Today, the most mud was right there at the entrance. The trail splits right after the entrance; one section goes straight and the other goes right. The straight trail connects with the same one the right fork does; it’s just a straight line. The right fork meanders through the trees and is narrow but an easy, smooth ride. It’s hard packed and in one short spot there are some big roots, but that is the toughest part of the trail.
The right fork leads into the main trail which at times is a two track dirt road
so you can ride smoothly and gain some speed if you’d like.

Further down the trail narrows again and enters a stretch of sugar sand. Thanks to the previous day’s rain, it was an easy peddle through this short stretch. There is a restroom here, aka outhouse and a short trail that leads to the Loxahatchee River and the famous dam. You can watch kayakers and canoers attempt to go up/down this small dam. Today the river was really clear and looked inviting but I wasn’t prepared to jump in. Maybe next time.

The trail continues and at times is very narrow and often I just ducked and went through the vegetation. Another reason to wear a helmet! Fortunately nothing was big enough to knock me off the bike either.
The trail ends up at a fence that borders noisy interstate 95. If you go left from here the trail dead ends into the river. Going right it follows the highway and then turns back toward the entrance. I thought for sure there was a path under the bridge of the interstate and to the other side. I’ll have to review some maps and see if I missed a turn.

Either way it is only about a two mile ride that, with a couple of exceptions, is very easy and would be fun for any ability.
It was a great day to be out and I enjoyed being in the forest again and feeling the fresh air. There’s nothing like a walk/ride in the woods to nurture the soul.

For more information:
http://www.pbcgov.com/parks/riverbend/index.htm#.U2bQq3jD_IU

Riverbend Park Moonlight bike ride

Riverbend is a beautiful park with lots of recreation opportunities in the northern section of Palm Beach County. Hiking, biking, horseback riding, kayaking, walking, and historical tours are enough to fill a day or two easily. I know I spend a lot of time biking there and enjoy the diverse trails, wildlife and natural scenery.

Like most county parks, it closed at sunset, but last night we enjoyed a special treat: a moonlight bike ride through the park sponsored by the Palm Beach County Parks and Rec dept. There were about 30 cyclists of varying ages and bicycles along for the ride.  We split into three groups and each group was led by a ranger.

Periodically the ranger, who was also a naturalist, would stop and talk about something unique to the area. At one point, he shined his light into the water to show us an alligator. That was the extent of the wildlife I saw.  I’m sure there was plenty I didn’t see.

Since it’s just a casual ride, it was fun to meet new people and share stories as we rode.  With a large group, we were spread out along the trail and all you’d see ahead is the blinking rear light of the cyclist in front of you.  That’s fine when the trail is straight, but when the trail turns or forks and you lose sight, it got challenging.

At one point I had fallen back to talk with someone. We rounded the corner and there weren’t any lights.  The lady in front of me didn’t see which way the group went either. So here were a few of us cyclists at junction  with 3 different ways to go and it’s dark. We headed straight for a few yards, but didn’t see anyone, so we went back to the trail junction. One gentleman read the map and we embarked on a trail that would lead toward the campfire. dsc_0590

Just a few minutes later we caught up with the group; they had only made a loop so by turning around, we just caught right back up. That was convenient!!

It was just a few more minutes of riding till we reached a spot with a campfire and smores. Now this is my kind of bike ride!!  It was a good chance to get off the bike, enjoy some smores and actually see the people I had been talking with on the ride.

As we headed back toward the entrance of the park, the moon was just peeking through the clouds. The trail led by a lake so it was a perfect photo op to catch the moon as it reflected off the lake.

A fun, easy ride, nice people, beautiful park, and smores, what’s not to like. The good news is this ride is held on a regular basis and the next one is scheduled for Dec.28th.

dsc_0308Even if you’ve visited Riverbend Park before, you should enjoy the Moonlight Bike Ride. Call ahead to reserve your spot; It’s only $5 and includes the smores. You can bring a bike or call ahead and rent one. If you bring your own, it is recommended to bring a headlight and taillight.

For more information on Riverbend park: http://www.pbcgov.com/parks/locations/riverbend.htm

For a calendar of events: http://pbcgov.mhsoftware.com/

p.s. I included some day time shots so you can see just how pretty it is. Every corner brings something new.

RiverBend Park

This past Sunday I revisited one of my favorite parks, Riverbend Park. I call it one of my favorites because it’s not like a park at all. You won’t find concession stands, ball fields, bleachers, acres of concrete, or the usual signs of civilization.

It’s a place to get away from it all without being too far away. I can totally immerse myself in nature and not contend with tons of people. Sure the parking lot is full most of the time, but thanks to its size, you don’t encounter a lot of people.

This Sunday was really nice because the park was brimming full of water. While the rest of the country is in drought, we’ve been fortunate to have rain every day. The canals and ponds are full which gives the park such character, color, and of course brings in more wildlife.

One of my favorite spots is at the end of bridge that dead ends. When you first ride or walk up, it just looks like another bridge over water. Stop for a minute, drink your water, take a few pictures and the natural beauty will appear. You’ll see Garr swimming, turtles coming up for air, Apple snails on the bank, or the reflection of the hawk soaring overhead. It’s like stumbling into a play in the middle of a scene; the actors may pause while you sit down, but once you’re settled the story resumes.

My second favorite place is a trail opposite the picnic area and across the canal. It’s a place where the trees are surrounded by glass like water which makes it perfect for capturing beautiful reflection pictures.

Course one of the main attractions is the variety of wildlife. I always see hawks, wild turkeys, deer, and the ever present vulture. Each visit is unique and this time I stumbled upon a group of woodpeckers enjoying their community of trees. I particularly enjoyed watching one skip along the railing of the bridge. Every so often he give it a few resounding raps with his beak and move on. 

If being on land is just not your thing, you can also kayak through the park and down the Loxahatchee River. Kayaking, wide smooth trails for walking, running, biking, lots of photographic opportunities, and a variety of wildlife. Now you know why I think it’s almost perfect.

Shhh…don’t tell anyone.

For more information go here: http://www.pbcgov.com/parks/riverbend/index.htm