Photograph by Lara Cerri
A gentle rain adds a new dimension to Florida’s natural spaces. Leaves shimmer, wildlife emerges, and fewer visitors venture out onto trails, enhancing the sense of solitude. This is the Sunshine State, of course, but bring a water-resistant jacket and sturdy shoes in case you have the opportunity to experience the lesser seen wonders revealed on drizzly days.
Crystal River Preserve State Park, Crystal River
“Rain or shine, life does not stop moving here,” says Crystal River Preserve State Park manager John Lakich. Look for crabs, fish, otters, and wading birds while walking through the extensive salt marsh or along the tidal creeks on one of the park’s main trails, which range from a one-third-mile, ADA-accessible boardwalk trail to a seven-mile bike-hike loop. When walking in the rain, listen in particular for the park’s 17 species of native frogs and toads. Adds Lakich, “Many of these call in anticipation of and during rainstorms. This is nature’s music and well worth experiencing.”
Gemini Springs Park, DeBary
The 13.5-mile paved trail system running through this 210-acre park provides firm footing for walks on drizzly days. Pathways wind in and around pine flatwoods and ancient oak and lush cabbage palm hammocks. Connecting nature trails lead to the park’s two bubbling freshwater springs, earthen dam, and sweeping views of the DeBary Bayou. The paved trails are part of Volusia County’s multiuse Spring-to-Spring Trail, which, when complete, will stretch from Gemini Springs Park 26 miles north to De Leon Springs State Park.
Weedon Island Preserve, St. Petersburg
Take a walk through the treetops of mangrove forests and across tidal flats on almost two miles of flat boardwalks and paved pathways through Weedon Island. From the observation platform overlooking the saltwater pond, watch mullet leaping out of the water and look for wading birds, including roseate spoonbills, great blue herons, snowy egrets, and yellow-crowned night herons.
Practical Tip: During and after rain, all-weather boardwalk trails can be slick. To prevent falls, wear sturdy walking shoes or sneakers with slip-resistant soles, and take it slow.
Fun Fact: From 1930 to 1953, Weedon Island was home to Grand Central Airport. Visible remnants of the island’s high-flying past include a “ghost runway” covered with low vegetation.
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