Bald Cypress and High Dune Trails

                

Bald Cypress Trail, First Landing State Park

The Premiere Trail in the Park, Bald Cypress winds around for about 1.8 miles, and contains the short (.3 mile) High Dune Trail, as well. The walk is mostly easy, over leaf covered packed sand, with a few bridges and boardwalks through the wet spots. High Dune is a steep climb on both ends with some wiggles in the middle. You’ll travel along the low Cypress Pools and along the ridges of the Ancient Dunes.

Here’s the Trail Map and some pictures from a cool, overcast and occasionally drizzly hike on January 16, 2017. It covered about 2.4 miles in 2 hours. The green dot is the Parking Lot and Trail Center.

 A short distance from the Parking Lot, you will encounter the first in a series of Cypress Pools and Sinks. Bald Cypress grow in the water, along with some Tupelo. Hackberry and Red Maple dot the edges, and Blueberry is common. The Cypress trunks are accompanied by Knees, which project from their root systems.

   

Bald Cypress and their Knees.

   

Interesting base of a poolside Red Maple.

   

A Sweet Gum fell in a Storm long ago, but adapted to it’s Fate and began anew.

   

Another Pool, Spanish Moss drapes the Cypress.

  

A Pine was knocked over, but continues, held up by other Trees, and the Trail winds through the Dunes.

   

Colorful Bracket Fungus and rotting Tree Trunks provide interesting Views along the Way.

A large Pond, ringed with Cypress, Blueberry, Maple, and others.

     

Two shots of the same view on a misty, drizzly day. One is right side up and one is not. Can you tell which is Up or Down?

    

The Boardwalk out into the Pond, and peering over the side in the Rain.

    

The Way up onto the High Dune Trail, Partridgeberries are thick up there.

   

The Trail along the Ridge Top, and newly emerging Oak leaves.

Nutrient poor soils and waters, and frequent harsh winds stunt and contort the growth of many Trees here.

Resurrection Fern growing in the bark of this Tree. It curls up and disappears in dry spells and “resurrects” itself when the moisture returns.

The cries and drumming of Pileated Woodpeckers are common in the Park, but they are shy and hard to spot.

   

Knotty and burled roots of a slow growing Pine. The very long and intertwined roots of many species of Trees is the glue that holds the Ancient Sand Dunes together.

Mushroom protruding from Pine Bark just above the roots. Mycelium is the underground structure of mushrooms (the fruiting body) and attaches itself to the roots of some trees, like Pines, which lack the fine feeder roots many trees have developed, aiding in the uptake of water and nutrients.

    

A couple of small, but very old Holly trunks and root bases.

   

A favorite of mine, this Sweet Gum fell decades ago, but survived. It was cut to open the Trail, but the bottom layers of cambium and bark were left, which continued to transport water and nutrients into the trunk from the roots, as the core of the trunk rotted away.

   

A branch near the top of the toppled Tree grew strongly upward, becoming the new Leader, or Trunk. The Tree self-layered and grew a new set of Roots near this new Trunk to nourish it.

    

The “new” Trunk has now attained age and soars up into the Forest Canopy.

    

Some Bracket or Shelf Fungus on a Tree Trunk.

We’ve come Full Circle, back to the Cypress Pools behind the Trail Center and our Hike has ended.