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Romping in Gold Head State Park
Article and Photos by Baron Byrd
(With assistance from Veronica Byrd

 

Water Tower Gold Head State Park
Getting cooled down at the water tower

My name is Baron Byrd, but you can call me Road Dog, I am a glossy, 18 pound, min-pin, not quite a year old, and I sure can run real fast. My person can’t even keep up with me. But she is all right I decided to keep her, besides she has a drivers license. So let me tell you about one of our many adventures.  Mike Roess Gold Head State Park, located in Keystone Heights, Fl. It is one of Florida�s first state parks, developed on a 2,000-acre site by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the 1930s. Well enough of about that.

Tram trail Gold Head State Park
That sandy tram trail

I really want to tell you about my adventure, for starters we took a little road filled with lots of sand they called it a Tram trail. This tram trail was a narrow gauge railroad owned by Dowling and Burlington to transport logs and other supplies, it traveled between Green Cove Springs and Melrose, That was long before I was born, even before my human, Veronica, was born. I thought it was absolutely wonderful I sure can get my running paws on there, but my owner and her mother were traveling on some sort of electric bikes and they kept getting stuck and sliding all over the sand. They just couldn’t make it through the whole trail. And so while I was waiting for them I did a little observing myself.  

Dog looking up tree at gold head state park
Wonder what's up that tree

The park is home to bald eagles, Sherman's fox squirrels, gopher tortoises, red cockaded woodpeckers, various snakes, hawks, fox, and numerous songbirds. I didn't see many so I guess maybe a dog running through their domain scared them off. The time for wildflower viewing is during Oct. Well we finally made it off of the tram trail.

Dog wading in stream
This stream is so refreshing

Next we went to something called a ravine. Veronica told me they don't have many of these in Florida like they do in North Georgia where she was living before she had the good fortune to adopt me We had to trot down what to me seemed like a long staircase, when we arrived at the bottom the little wooded stream looked so refreshing and inviting I couldn't resist a swim. Boy I’ll tell you this that water sure was cool. Too bad my companions didn’t join me for a swim they really have no idea what they were missing.  It is a great place for humans to cool their feet off especially if they tried to keep up with me.

Biking on road gold head state park
"On the Road Again"

Then we headed back on the road and traveled a short distance to a water tower, this was built in 1930’s. Water was in such high demand for the C.C.C. so they had to create this tank and pump system.

Water Tower Gold Head State Park
The CCC built water tower

 I was a pretty lucky little fellow to be able to stand under it while my person hosed me off. 

CCC built cabins
CCC built cabins

As we proceeded to travel on we than approached some cabins, I wish I could live there, I would be in little doggie heaven, just think of all the woods and water that I could run and play in all day long, it couldn’t get any better than that.

Dog reading Mill trail sign
Reading about the Mill Trail

There's even a rough wooded trail Veronica and her mom could not traverse with those crazy bikes of theirs. They had to park and walk. All right by me. It gave me more time to sniff things out.

The steel bridge at the mill trail site
The steel bridge at the mill trail site

They checked the sign that told about an old mill that was there once while I waded in that nice cool stream under the steel bridge. Gotta keep your priorities straight.

CCC built bathhouse at Mike Reoss Gold head Branch State Park  Little Lake Johnson swimming beach
The CCC bathhouse  Little Lake Johnson swimming beach
Fox squirrel Female Downy Woodpecker
Fox Squirrel Female Downy Woodpecker

Can you just imagine the old bathhouse in front of Little Johnson Lake where humans can swim. It was built by the C.C.C. in the 1930’s, these young men had no carpentry experience, but the bathhouse has been used by thousands and has survived Florida weather condition. They just don’t build them like they use to. 

My owner thinks it‘s peaceful and relaxing, but who has time for all that. For the humans they can enjoy hiking trails, bird watching, camping either primitive outdoors, or in a cabin, picnicking under pavilions where they have grills where they could cook one of my favorites, hamburgers, Oh, and restrooms with hot showers if that’s important to you, There’s even a play ground for the little human tots.  At night time you can do some star gazing, campfire programs and another one of my favorites roasting marshmallows.   Well, we have come to the end of our journey, and as you can see this is all in a day's work.Now I canenjoy the ride home.

dog nappping in car
Nothing like a good nap after a busy day exploring

 

 For more info:

http://www.floridastateparks.org/mikeroess/



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