There's something special about hiking through nature, taking in the sights and sounds of the wilderness. Unfortunately, as more and more people enjoy the great outdoors, nature trails are becoming eroded and damaged. It's important to take care of these trails so that future generations can enjoy them too.


Here are some tips for maintaining nature trails:


1. Do your part to avoid trail degradation. Be conscious of your impact when you're hiking and take care not to damage the vegetation or disturb wildlife.


2. If you see trash on the trail, pick it up and dispose of it properly. We all have a responsibility to keep our trails clean.


3. If you come across a damaged section of trail, take the time to fix it. Even something as simple as filling in a pothole can make a big difference.


4. Help out with trail maintenance projects. Many trails are maintained by volunteer groups, and they always need help. Whether you donate your time or money, every little bit helps.


By following these tips, we can all do our part to keep nature trails beautiful and enjoyable for everyone.


By using a company that knows what they are doing when maintaining the trail like, Orlando Excavator Contractors or Florias Excavator Contractors for those elsewhere in the state, we will have trails for generations to come.


Essentials

  • A Water Bottle
                 Dehydration Happens Quickly in the Florida Sun !

  • Sun Tan Lotion
                 A Good 30 SPF Sunscreen is Essential
  • Insect Repellant
                  I Recommend a Combination Sunscreen/Insect Repellant Lotion
  • Wear Comfortable Cotton Clothe
                 It is Best if You Wear Long Sleaves and Long Pants Because of Insects
                 and To Prevent Getting Scratched by Trees Branches.

  • Wear Sturdy Walking or Hiking Shoes and High Socks
                Many Times, the Foot Trails are Rugged or Overgrown with Roots and
                Understory Plants


Equipment

Metal Detectors

  • Camera
    • Digital Cameras: Extra Batteries, Memory Cards, Zoom and Macro Lenses
    • Other Cameras: Zoom Lense is Essential for Birds and other Wildlife
                    Macro Lenses are Used for Close Ups Like Flowers or Insects.
                    Wide Angle Lenses are Used for Landscape Shots.
                    A Tripod Might be Useful .
                    Lens Cleaner is Needed Often Out in the Field.
                    Don't Forget Extra Film !
  • Binoculars
                Great for Bird Watching.
  • Your Favorite Referrence or Wildlife Identification Book
                 For a List of My Favorite Guides
  • Pen and Paper To Jot Down Notes and Thoughts
  • A Walking Stick
                 This Can Also be Used to Clear Away Spider Webs that are Always
                 on the Trail in Front of You.

General   


  • Walk Slowly and Quietly
             Most Wildlife Will be Scared Away With Load Noise. The
             Quieter You are, the More You Will See.

  • Stop Often
             You Would be Surprised How Much You Can Miss!
             Look To Both Sides, Look up, Look Down.

  • Look Closely
             There May be a Camouflaged Animal or an Interesting Plant.
             Small Insects May Be on the Trees or Under the Boardwalk.
  • Listen Carefully
             The Rustling of Leaves Means There is Wildlife Close By.
             A Distant Woodpecker Could be Heard Tapping.
             Listen to Wood Stretching as the Trees Sway With the Wind.
             The Sound of Water Means There is a Stream Nearby.
             Hear the Insects and Birds Calling to Each Other.
  • Take in the Scents
              Take Time to Enjoy the Natural Air.
             Experience the Woody Scent of a Swamp.
             Enjoy the Scent of a Nearby Flowering Plant.
  • Touch Your Surroundings.
             Feel the Different Leaf Textures.
             Explore the Trees and the Various Barks.
  • Sit on the Boardwalk and Relax.
             This is My Favorite Part ! You can Look All Around You
               and Listen, Hear, and Smell Everything.
             Escape From Everyday Stress and Anxiety.
             There is a Great Sense of Peace Out in the Middle
             of A Nature Trail !  


Insects


  • Insects Are Very Interesting to Watch. The Variety in Shape
             and Color is Amazing ! From a Spiders' Web to a Scavenging
             Beetle, Insects are All Over Nature Trails.
  • To find Insects, Sometimes You Have to go Hunting
    • Dead Trees
             Beetles, Ants, and Other Burrowing Insects are Found in Dead
              Tree Trunks or Fallen Branches.
    • Under Leaves and Tree Branches
             Many Insects Prefer the Shade and Protection Under Leaves.
    • In and Around Air Plant Roots
             The Roots of Air Plants Provide Cover and Moisture for Insects.
    • Near Flowers
             Butterflies and Various Beetles Feed on the Nectar of Flowers.
    • On the Waters' Surface
             Several Aquatic Beetles and Spiders Can be Found Near or 
              On Water.
  • Many Beetles, Caterpillars, and Butterflies are Attracted to Specific
             Host Plants. Look For Their Favorite Food Plant and You'll
             Probably Find Them !
  • High Speed Film is Recommended When Photographing Insects Because
             of Their Fast Movements
  • Macro Lenses are Essential to Get Good Close Up Shots


Plants


  • A Variety of Plant Life Can Be Found in Nature Centers.
             Trees, Shrubs, Vines, Ferns, Aquatic and Air Plants, Wildflowers
             Moss, Orchids, Etc !
  • Each Different Habitat You Visit Will Have Different Groups of Plants.
             For Example:
             - Coastal Areas Will Have Salt Tolerant Dune Plants and Mongroves.
             - PineWood Forests Will Have Slash Pines and Shrubby Understory .
  • Different Plants Can Be Found in Different Places
    • Ferns
              There are Many Different Types of Ferns in Florida. They Vary
               in Frond Characteristics, Size, Shape, and Color.
    • Trees
              Depending On Where You are, Different Trees Predominate.
              Cypress Swamps Will Have Cypress Trees and Maples.
              Mangrove Forrests Will Have Mangrove and Pond Apples.
              Take Note of the Different Bark and Leaf Textures.
    • Vines and Shrubs
              These Type of Plants Usually Produce Brightly Colored Fruits
              and Berries. Many are Fragrant.
    • Aquatic Plants
               Some Aquatic Plants are Tiny and Stay on the Surface
               of the Water.
               Some are Large and Produce Flowers Like Water Lillies.
               Ferns Can also be Aquatic.
    • Airplants
               These Include Bromeliads, Spanish Moss, Orchids, and the Various
               other Quill Leaf Pines.
               Most Air Plants Have Beautifully Colored and Unusual Blooms .
    • Moss and Lichens
               These May Seem Plain and Boring at First but When Looked at
               Close up, They are Very Detailed and Amazing ! They Can be
               Very Colorful and  Have Many Different Shapes and Textures.
    • Wildflowers
               Wildlfowers Can Be Found Anywhere You Go.
               They Can be Very Colorful and the Variety is Almost Endless
               in Florida.
  • Macro Lenses are Recommended When Photographing Close Ups of
            Flowers or Leaf Structures
  • Wide Angle Lenses are Good for Large Trees


Animals

  • To Be Able To See Animals, the Main Thing To Remember is
            To Walk Slowely and Quietly
  • Animals Can Be Found in Many Places
    • Alligators
            May Be Found Anywhere in Nature Parks in South Florida !
            They Prefer to Stay Near Water or in Swamps But are Seen
            Frequently Basking in the Sun.
    • Snakes
            Seen Hiding Under Plants or Rocks. Some Stay Near Water Like
            the Brown Water Snake.
    • Turtles
            Usually Found In or Near Water. Some Land Turtles Like the
            Gopher Turtles Crawl Into Dugouts They Build.
    • Lizards
            Found in Trees, Under Foliage, or Even on the Boardwalk.
            They are Really Qick and Will Usually Take Off When Spotted.
    • Frogs
            Usually Seen Near Water or Hiding in Foliage but I Have Seen
            a Few Right on the Boardwalk.
    • Crabs
            In Mangrove Areas, Fiddler and Mangrove Crabs are Common Sight.
            They Can Be Seen in the Mud in Coastal Areas. Land Crabs
            Go Farther Inland and Make Holes in the Sand to Hide.
    • Birds
            Bird Watching is A Favorite in Nature Parks. With a Good Set of
            Binoculars or Zoom Lense, Birds are Seen in Trees, Swamps, and
            Open Marsh Areas.
    • Squirrels and Raccoons
            These Guys Can be Seen in Trees and Scavenging for Crabs on Land.
    • Bigger Mammals
            Use Caution if You Spot a Florida Panther, BobCat, or Wild Boar.
             Remember to Keep Your Distance and Respect These Wild Animals.
  • Most Parks Have "Sightings" Notebooks at the Nature Center Offices or
             Building. Check These Out to See Where Wildlife Has Been Sighted
             by Other Visitors and Park Employees. 


General

  • No Pets Allowed

  • No Food or Drinks Allowed (Except for a Water Bottle)
  • Do Not Litter
  • No Collecting Allowed
              This includes Flowers, Plants, Leaves, Animals, Rocks, Shells, or any
               other part of the Natural Landscape.

  • Stay on Trail
              Do Not Jump off Boardwalks into Protected Areas.
              Do Not Leave Foot Trails .
  • No Trapping or Harming of Animals Permitted
  • No Cooking or Campfires
  • No One is Allowed on Trails Before Opening or After Closing Time
  • Enjoy Your Time out There and Watch Some of the Best Trail Cameras Videos on Youtube

Children

  • Stay With Your Children
               Do Not Allow Them to Run Too Far Ahead Alone.
  • Watch What They Put in Their Mouths
                Many Fruits and Berries are Poisonous.
  • Watch What They Touch
                 Some Plants and Animals or Insects are Harmful.
  • Make Sure They Do Not Wander Off
  • Make Sure They are Well Hydrated and Protected From the Sun
  • Dress Them Appropriately With Protective Clothing and Shoes

Plants

  • Do Not Eat Any Berries, Fruits, Nuts, etc. That You Find
                    Many are Poisonous or Will Make You Sick.
                    Some Animals and Birds Can Eat Poisonous Berries That Humans Can Not.
  • Teach Children Not to Eat Anything They Find
  • Do Not Pick or Eat Any Mushrooms
                    Some are Poisonous and They Are Difficult to Identity.
  • Stay Away from Members of the Carrot or Parsely Family
                    They Resemble Water Hemlock Root Which is Poisonous.
  • Even Safe To Eat Plants Should be Avoided
                     You May Be in a Polluted Area and Plants Can Accumulate Toxins.
  • Many Plants and Plant Leaves are Poisonous
                     Some Include Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Oleander, and Elderberry.
  • Many Plants with White, Red, or Yellow Sap Are Poisonous or Irritating to the Skin
                     This Includes Some Cacti Species.


Animals

  • Do Not Pick up or Touch Insects, Caterpillars, or Small Animals or Reptiles
                      They can Bite, Be Poisonous, or Irritate Your Skin.
  • Do Not Let Your Children Pick Up Any Animals or Insects
                      Always Watch Them.
  • Do Not Feed Any Animals
                      They May Be Startled or Become Aggressive and Bite or Scratch You.
  • If You See a Wild Animal on The Trail, Do Not Try to Get Too Close
                      Use Your Binoculars and Keep a Safe Distance.
                      Remember That These Animals are Wild.
  • Do Not Wear Strong Perfumes or Creams Inside the Nature Parks
                      Some Insects Like Bees or Wasps May be Attracted to the Scents in Orlando


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