Want to explore the Great Outdoors? A little tired of the beach or just want to find a new place to enjoy nature? Do we have a trail for you! Just 0.26 miles past the main gate on Treasure Road take your first left (north) onto North Spur Road for 0.67 miles all the way to the property border. The return trail follows the same route back to the parking area for a total of 1.86 miles. The terrain is flat with a few shallow water crossings in wet weather. If rain levels are low there will be no water however, if rain has been abundant you can cross but your shoes will get wet.


Oh, yea – stop by the kiosk for your brochure: Self-Guided Interpretive Trail. You will notice numbered markers as you travel the trail. The Self-Guided Interpretive Trail brochure you picked up at the kiosk has information to help you understand the how and why at the Preserve.


What might one see on this trail? Animal tracks easily visible on the sandy road. You will traverse a Low water crossing which may or may not have water in it. If there has been rain there will more than likely be water. It is deep enough to wade through or ride through on a bike. If there has been no rain recently it will just be rocks.


Other sights you will see include saw palmetto, broom sedge, live oaks, palms, sand post oaks, several types of pine trees, magnolias and gallberries.


Some of the markers are placed near plants and trees which were used by Native Americans. You can read about these then observe them. These shrubs and trees serve as food for many different animals living nearby.


Marker 8 is a good place to see the Slash pine. Do you know the difference between the Slash pine and the Longleaf pine? You can learn to spot them and identify easily.


Magnolia virginiana, Taxodium ascendens and Ilex glabra are some of the trees and bushes you will see on the North Spur Trail. Marker 12 has a historical marker that most will recognize if you are a longtime resident. Will you recognize it or need to read about it in the brochure?


The best time to hike is early in the morning and later in the afternoon as the heat gets intensive during the middle of the day. You will want to bring along water, cell phone, sunscreen, cap or hat, and bug repellent. There is a parking area on the right as you turn in from State Road 30-A, just across from the Visitor Center. Just step around the gate and start your adventure!


One correction accidently made in an earlier article is how many miles of trails there are in the Preserve. That would be 26 miles. Can you hike all of them? A former resident says he hiked all of them many times.


So, you notice the picture of the tree stumps and wonder why we brought those to your attention? Can you tell how old that tree ring is? Can you tell the dry years from the wet years? Can you find other stumps beside the pine ones? Who knew stumps could tell you so much?


This may be the end of this trail however . . . there are many more for you to discover and enjoy. You will most likely have the trail to yourself unless you run into another hiker or biker. Keep the social distancing please however, there is lots of room for everyone.


Just being outdoors will give your inner child a big boost. So why do you think hanging out in nature make us so happy? Turns out, it’s not just our love for foliage that gives us that great feeling; going outside can actually offer relief for everything from depression to negativity.


Science has shown us that spending time in the great outdoors can actually make you healthier. Escaping to the woods and trails or even your neighborhood park helps both your body and your brain.


Evidence suggests that children and adults benefit so much from contact with nature that land conservation can now be viewed as a public health strategy. (Nature and Kids Network)


Friends of the St. Joseph Bay Preserves invite you to join them.


This is an energetic, involved, and important group who work to: Restore the Land, Protect the Water, Preserve the Future. Lynda White, President of the Friends of the Preserves, encourages you to join their group.


The projects and events (when they resume) are important, intriguing, and just plain fun.


"Friends of the Preserves are very important in helping the managers of the Buffer Preserve and the Aquatic Preserve with projects. Sometimes it is monetary help and sometimes it is physical help – both are valuable. We encourage you to join our dedicated group of citizens and make our little corner of paradise the best it can be."


So—Let’s G.O. (Get Outdoors)! June is Great Outdoors Month


If you have questions call the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve at 229-1787.