There is a lot to do on a Sunday morning. You could, for instance, sleep in! Taking advantage of cool, breezy mornings while you lounge in bed with a third or fourth cup of coffee after a long slumber is heavenly. What I love most about Sundays are church, and the smell of bacon and eggs sizzling on the griddle, reminding all that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. On a recent weekend, I had the opportunity to pack some protein snacks, grab the dog and head to a local Sunday hotspot for nature lovers and thrill seekers alike.
Do you know what the best part of a great “find” is? Arguably, distance and location mean a lot to people who work all week long and don’t want to travel an hour to experience a cool, nature-centered outing. So, when I learned our destination would be all of a 10-minute drive from my home, I already had one thumb up. Living in North Port, I have spent many hours and even overnight camping excursions at Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, a beautiful outdoor space owned by the City of North Port and maintained by Sarasota County. Conveniently situated in the North Port Estates area, it is always a great treat seeing horses meander by as you’re grilling hotdogs or throwing a football around with the kids. But, on this day, we bypassed the main entrance and parked a short distance beyond the park to head out onto a Live Long trail maintained by Sarasota County Off-road Riders (SCORR). The other trail, Prosper, runs pretty much parallel to “Live Long.” A connector bridges joins North Port to Sarasota County’s Carlton Reserve and the mountain bike/pedestrian trail systems. It’s a quiet slice of heaven in South County that you must check out.
To me, signs like “dogs allowed on leash” make me happy. Anytime I can treat my dog to a romp out in the great outdoors feels like a win for her and me. As we headed out onto the same trails that bikers use, it is clear you have to be on your toes to avoid natural hazards like roots and uneven ground as well as oncoming bikers. Diving ducks, blue heron, fish, rabbits and buzzing bees and butterflies greeted us into their quiet wilderness. As the trail follows the creek the entire way, I was taken by the orange and blue rainbows created by the sun streaks peeking through the wooded canopy. Giant old oaks keeping generations-old secrets tucked away made us stop and contemplate all these mammoth-sized beauties have seen. The way the trees seemed to be holding hands as they commandeered the landscape with their widespread roots and outstretched limbs was both impressive and sweet.
Walking the trail was fun and challenging in that at any moment bikers could come whizzing through. With hills and jumps throughout, and narrow passageways close to the water’s edge, I’m sure biking these trails is a good ride for experienced bikers. We had thought of bringing the kids and their bikes but after seeing the skilled bikers on the trail, it’s not likely they’ll be ready for that any time soon. According to the Single Tracks website, the Live Long and Prosper Trails in North Port are rated as “intermediate” and approximately seven miles long. The loop allows you to cross the river and ride both trails, which we saw many bikers do the day we were out there.
Interesting to note, Carlton Reserve’s very own Swallow-Tail Kites have begun their migration from Sarasota County to Brazil. One kite, which was tagged for tracking this past summer left North Port on Aug 3 and is currently enroute to Brazil, with an anticipated arrival date sometime this month. For more information on biking and hiking in and around North Port, please visit their website here.
Photos courtesy of Jodi Schwarzenbach.