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Bluefield Ranch Preserve
I drove out to Hickory Hammock Wildlife Management Area to go hiking north of Okeechobee, Florida. When I got there I saw a man who looked like a professional guide for hunting. I asked him if there was a hunt going on and he said "Yes, small game until March 7th." I decided to leave since I don't like hiking when people are hunting around me especially since I did not wear any orange colors, which is usually worn by people in hunting areas. I recalled passing Bluefield Ranch Preserve on my way to Hickory Hammock, a large property that I have hiked before, so I decided to go there instead.
A Partly Cloudy Day
After starting my hike, I soon came upon some Environmental Trucks that looked like they were eradicating some non-local plants and trees.
In my opinion the best time to hike here is when you have a cool, breezy and dry day. There are some areas, especially the hikers trail, that do not have a lot of shade. Make sure you bring water and fluids as well as sun screen and bug spray just in case. I always apply suntan lotion before hiking.
Young Pine Trees
Horseback Riding is something you see here often since it's such a big property. It is common also at Hickory Hammock Wildlife Management Area along with Equestrian campsites.
Just past the Blue Trail, heading south on the trail if you stay to the left, you will come to an old wooden bridge to cross over the water hole. It is falling apart and I had to be very careful not to fall and injure myself. They need to rebuild this bridge and perhaps build another one just south of here because I had to get off trail and make my way around another water hole. I have been in touch with St. Lucie County's Assistant Director of Environmental Affairs and he told me they are working on getting someone to be onsite fulltime and to improve the trails. He said because of the flooding they were getting in the fall and Covid closing the trail, they haven't been able to maintain the Preserve properly. They are working on bringing in a volunteer trail crew to fix the trail.
As I was hiking, I came up on some wild turkeys on the trail.
Wild Turkeys On the Trail
I came to a trail marker for the hikers campsites that goes to the right. I took this trail but then lost track of where it goes. It leads into the woods and there were no trail markers on the trees so I had to backtrack and take the pass, which is another, longer way to get to the hikers campsites.
Trail Marker for Hikers Campsites
Prairie Branch Pass
Pass Easy to Follow
I hiked along the pass until I came upon an outhouse and eventually a campsite. I took a break at the campsite for about 15 minutes to give my legs a rest! You need a permit to camp out here. The phone number is right by the parking area so it's easy to get a permit. The Privy is in bad condition and the door is hard to close so it needs some work. Hopefully they take care of this soon.
One of the Hikers Campsites
The campsites are in the middle of the woods so you are surrounded by beautiful trees!
Before I began my hike, I took a photo of the trail map with my phone since there were no brochures. Hopefully going forward they will provide these because not everyone is an expert with technology. I apologize if my photos are not the greatest quality. I forgot my digital camera so I was forced to use my smart phone which doesn't have the resolution that the digital camera has. Anyway, looking at the map, I could see the hikers trail is shorter than the pass so I decided to take it going back instead of the pass since I was getting tired and just did not want to do the extra work! Well, I was able to make my way back and the light at that time of day was just amazing! Also, it was a cool day with a lot of wind so I did not get too hot. Bluefield Ranch Preserve is a nice place and I plan to come back and hike other trails here! So if you get a chance to go there, you will enjoy the peace and serenity you will find there! And hopefull by then they will have made many improvements!
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