Carrying on with the theme of staying active and exploring new places, hubby and I went out for an adventure day on Monday. We decided to go to the Little Manatee River State Park to go hiking. We arrived at the front gate and the park ranger was super nice and made sure we had a map to follow and told us to enjoy our hike. The weather was warm with some light breezes which made it a very nice day to go for a hike.
We parked in the first parking lot we came to, assuming that it would connect to one of the trail heads. Well it had a small trail called the Oxbow loop that went around the area, but the only thing the Oxbow loop connected to were the camping grounds and the river access for canoes and such. It was a short little jaunt of a walk but we took it anyways. There was one section where the trail had the beautiful canopy tree cover which I absolutely love while I’m walking. It is just such a romanticized vision in my mind especially with all the Spanish moss hanging loosely from the trees and swaying in the breeze. Once we finished the Oxbow loop we came out at the parking lot next to the playground area. We turned around and headed back up the trail and took one of the offshoots toward the campground hoping to find more trail to walk. We found it and saw some awesome sites as well.
We found the equestrian trail area and the parking area for the horse trailers. This also led us to a blue trail marker. We started walking down the trail and we got to see horses. They were tethered to their trailers as their humans were finishing up lunch. Beautiful horses too, they looked healthy and they were not very happy with being tethered or having their blinders on. We walked past that area and made it to the trail leading to the lake. This section of trail had complete sunlight and it was so weird walking a trail in January and starting to sweat from the sun being on me. (Still can’t get over Florida weather).
When we got to the lake there was a couple there on horses who were letting the horses cool their hooves in the water. We stood looking out over the lake for a few and as we turned to head back up the trail I head the man holler. The woman was dying laughing. Apparently the horse that the man was on decided it wanted to lay down in the water, which resulted in that man getting some very wet pants. We snickered as we walked back up the trail. I mentioned how I needed to make friends with someone who had a horse, so I could “borrow” said creature for riding and not have to be the primary care giver. Keeping horses is not cheap and they are a lot of work. However a community horse would suit me well.
After our hike, we decided it was time for food. So a quick stop at the local Denny’s for some lunch hit the spot. I’m in love with omelets lately so I had the veggie omelet (no cheese) and a fruit cup instead of fries or hash browns. I also don’t get bread because well, allergies. I felt good about my food choices as I entered my meal into MyFitnessPal. I actually ended up getting two fruit bowls because our waitress brought one out to me before the meal arrived and I got one with my meal. Yay! I’ll take double the fruit any day.
We weren’t quite ready for our adventure to be over at that point so hubby took me to the Manatee Viewing Center. This place is located across the river from a power plant. The reason the manatees like the water there is because it’s the warm water that is released from the power plant after the cooling process happens. We walked out on the boardwalk and saw some huge fish (Tarpons) and hubby even saw a ray jumping out of the water. From far out on the boardwalk we could just make out a tail flipper here or a fin there of the manatees. The breeze coming off the water felt nice and we decided to walk back closer to the buildings to see if we could figure out how to get to the observation tower. By the time we got back to the buildings it was too late to go to the tower (they close those trails at 4pm), so we viewed the manatees from the viewing platform that is right off of the cafe/gift shop building. This area was a much better viewing spot as there were a dozen or so manatees just chilling in the water. I also caught sight of a different type of fish that was eating barnacles off of the support poles for the observation deck. Being out in nature and seeing these critters sure does make my heart happy, I’m so glad we got the opportunity to go on such a lovely adventure.
We headed home to have dinner and both were extremely pleased with our day out. Oh I forgot to mention, you know we had to stop in the gift shop before we left the viewing center. I picked up a wind chime that was a wooden chime with a sea turtle and I got a new key ring with a sea turtle that has tiny seashells floating inside of it. I know if we go back in the future with my son, we are going to be spending quite a bit of money in that gift shop because sea turtles are his favorite thing.
If you are ever in Florida and love nature and hiking, I would recommend the Manatee Viewing Center and the Little Manatee River State Park. I loved it!