My original plan had been to do a 2-day hike from upper Econfina to Hwy 20, an 18 mile hike alongside beautiful Econfina Creek. Hamstring tendonitis effectively nixed that idea, but I did get to hike a portion of it with my hiking companions before I had to leave them and turn back at just under 3 miles. Nevertheless, I was able to experience some of the trail and get some great photos along the way.
The trail head starts on Scott road (locals refer to it as Scott’s Bridge Rd) at a Florida Trail Association (FTA) maintained parking area. There is adequate signage from Hwy 231 directing travels to the parking area, but just to be on the safe side, once you turn onto Scott Rd you’ll curve gently to the right and follow the road for about 2 miles until you reach the parking area on the left. From here, hikers will enter the trail head at the kiosk and begin their hike.
Upon arriving at the trail head everyone piled out of the truck, donned their gear and posed for the obligatory group picture. Then it was a brisk walk past the kiosk to pick up the trail head. Very quickly we left the drier piney woods to delve into the cool, shady hardwoods. During wet weather the trail can get mucky but the FTA was kind enough to install numerous plank walk ways skirting past the worst of it. Still, hikers can never be too careful and should always take care where they step. As the trail progressed a pattern of gentle ups and downs emerged lifting us onto small bluffs and dropping us back down into low areas.
It wasn’t long before the sound of running water could be heard and soon we were hiking alongside Econfina Creek. On this mild spring day we were fortunate enough to spot a trio of paddlers enjoying a leisurely float downriver. Our group pushed forward taking in the sights and smells of blooming Mountain Laurels, wild Azalea’s, and Fringe trees dangling over the creek. Occasionally the relatively tranquil creek would roar louder as the water coursed over shoals in the limestone karst. We’d have to return another day with kayaks to test our mettle on the creek — the upper section can be challenging at low & high water levels.
At about the two mile mark we came upon Two Penny Bridge. This sturdy wooden suspension bridge was erected by volunteers of the Florida Trail Association. Our group took several minutes to cross simply because we wanted to soak in the view and take photos. The FTA did a great job on this bridge After leaving the bridge we passed through a small grove of American Beech and proceeded on to a small waterfall.
According to the trail map the waterfall is located about 2.6 miles from the Scott’s Rd. trail head. We paused here to take photos and then, due to my injury, I left my companions and started the trek back to the vehicle. As much as I hated not being able to finish the hike with them, I welcomed the opportunity to focus on my photography. The great thing about doing a solo hike is that you can take all the time in the world to take in the scenery and really find the perfect camera angle for interesting objects.
I met several hikers on my way back, stopping to talk with a couple of them. Most seemed to be out enjoying the spring flowers and would ask me if I knew what they were. It was during this leg of the hike that I was also able to get photos of kayakers beneath Two Penny Bridge. The hike back was mainly uneventful until I reached the spur trail leading to the parking lot. Here I ran straight into a grizzled man wielding a machete. Fret not, I have it on good authority that he was doing trail maintenance. Nevertheless I do think I’ll be looking into personal protection items like pepper spray or a good knife for my next outing.