Family Hike…With A Twist

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Since school was out today for President’s Day we decided to take a family trip to Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park. We got a late start which didn’t work out so well. I wasn’t in a big hurry and normally it wouldn’t have been a problem but the weather was surprisingly warm for February and there was very little in the way of tree cover.

Pumpkin Hill

To my dismay the area we saw was little more than beat up “roads” torn up by horses. They weren’t trails in the normal context. At least they weren’t what I think of when I hear the word.

There weren’t many people out which was a little surprising as well. We did run into some horseback riders along the way. There were only a couple of other cars in the parking lot. We didn’t see anyone else hiking, though.


The map is a little confusing and you have to make sure you’re oriented properly since the map isn’t. Unfortunately the area we were in seemed a bit confusing. There are four different loops and we decided to head down the green trail. Unfortunately we didn’t see any blazes. We took off anyway and found ourselves at an intersection with no idea which way to turn. So we turned around.

Along the way our first path took us the trail is parallel to Pumpkin Hill Road. We heard some barking and the brush rustling and soon there were three adorable puppies trying to get to us through the fence. They were very affectionate and loved the attention. After a little petting we continued on to the parking lot.

The little hiker (my son) was hungry so we took a break at the car for lunch. At this point it was feeling much warmer and I wanted to get moving. There was a little breeze and I didn’t want to waste it sitting in the car. After looking at the map again and talking to a family that had just returned we headed out in search of the blue loop. It took us several hundred yards to find the first blaze and we turned to follow it.

Pumpkin Hill Main Trail

As we hiked I have to admit that the scenery was nice. It was mostly palmetto and pine but pretty nonetheless. This is where things went south again. My son decided he was too tired to walk and needed to be carried. We finally found a sign (no blaze just a sign that said “Hiking” with an arrow) and since we were at another confusing intersection we decided to follow it. Well, that just led us back to the first intersection where we ran into the puppies again.

Pumpkin Hill Scenery

Pumpkin Hill Signage

We made our way for the third time down the same path to the parking lot and decided it was time to leave. The purple loop (the longest at 3.7 miles) sounds nice. There is supposed to be a gazebo and an eagle’s nest about halfway down. I guess I’ll have to take another trip out there alone to scout it out with the GPS. It just sucked trying to walk in the soft dirt/sand and trying to find where to walk that hadn’t been torn up by hooves.

As we left we saw two of the three pups wandering on the side of the road. The park is in a very rural area near the end of a dead-end road. We stopped and played with them a bit and looked all over for the third. We decided that we couldn’t leave them out there to fend for themselves and threw them in the car. We went down to the dead-end where to our surprise we found another park (Betz-Tiger) that was closed and a sign saying it’s illegal to dump animals there. Apparently it’s a big enough problem that they needed a sign.

We did stumble upon a very nice portion of the park that overlooked the marsh and spent some time there enjoying the beauty. It really was a nice little area. After leaving this area we spent 30-45 minutes driving up and down the road trying to find the missing pup. We talked to a neighbor that was out and left our name and number in case it turned up.

So now we have two puppies in the house along with a young Siberian Husky, a cat, a fire-bellied toad, two tree frogs, and a clown fish. I think we might start a zoo before too long.

Pups Curled UpThe pups are a boy and a girl. The girl is petite at 23 pounds while the boy is a bit stockier at 28. We named her Pumpkin for where we found her. As we were leaving the park we realized that Cedar Point Preserve is right around the corner so we named the boy Cedar due to his reddish color.

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