Tag Archive: lake wales ridge


Crooked Lake – Babson Park

Lake Caloosa - Crooked Lake

Lake Caloosa – Crooked Lake

Also known as Lake Caloosa, Crooked Lake is a unique site for those of us who think of Florida and think of swamps. It’s white sandy shores and bottom can be seem quite clearly through the crystal waters that lap the shoreline.

San Skink tracks

San Skink tracks

The park that is located off Ohlinger Road in Babson Park, FL is a wonder of nature. Atop the Lake Wales Ridge, the preserve consists of scrub habitat and the beautiful Crooked Lake. You will see cacti, marshes, wet prairies, oak hammocks, and some rather interesting inhabitants.

We found fresh sand skink tracks, gopher tortoise burrows, red sundew plants, and could imagine the scrub jay that must live in the forests of low sand oaks. You won’t want to miss this one.

Pink Sundew - Carnivorous beauty

Pink Sundew – Carnivorous beauty

Hiking is sandy and you want to make sure you have plenty of water and grab a map at the entrance. The kiosk shows how just a small change in elevation in these sandy habitats can create complex environments for flora and fauna.

Don’t forget to walk down to the lake and be amazed that it can fluctuate 20 feet in a season! This park offers a restroom at the entrance, boardwalk along a wet prairie, and more hiking opportunities than you can see in one visit.

 

Take the time to study how amazing our landscapes are!

Take the time to study how amazing our landscapes are!

IMGP0093Once connected by an ancient land bridge to the deserts of the southwest, the Lake Wales Ridges State Forest boasts some similar species that were later trapped in this area when the ice receded. The wave action and shallow waters created a most unusual landform which is still visible today from the air.

Hiking out of the scrub and into the cypress dome was quite surprising.

Hiking out of the scrub and into the cypress dome was quite surprising.

What you will find on the ground is equally interesting. In the midst of shallow grassy marshes, there are two cypress domes. I know – that’s crazy right – cypress domes don’t belong on the ridge. Well, they are there. And they are gorgeous. Of course they differ from the swampy cypress domes in that they rely on water travelling underground through seepage rather than flowing over the surface.

Just standing in the middle of the dome after hiking through scrub habitat dominated by white sand and scrub oaks – sharp things and arid conditions – I looked around in total wonder at the soft ferns and mucky loam I was standing on. This seemed to me to be a very unique kind of forest. I felt lucky to be taking photos while my field partner Kevin rejoiced in the beauty as well.

It’s not hard to admit that we feel fortunate to be able to see these places. Truth is, everyone can as they are part of the Lake Wales Walk In Water WMP and are totally publicly accessible. You can even bring your horses and camp! IMGP0082  http://www.floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/lake_wales_ridge.html

As always, these areas are home to some very special plants and animals. Even the soil can’t be disturbed. Please enjoy with your eyes and take no prisoners!

IMGP0092

The transition from upland scrub to cypress dome!

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