Monday, November 30, 2015

Apalachicola NF - 11/30/15 - Sumatra, FL

Monday – November 30, 2015
Apalachicola National Forest
Wright Lake Campground
Sumatra, Florida

We spent a restful night at a Rest Area at mile-marker 346 on northbound I-75, near Ocala, Florida. We plan to spend tonight at the Wright Lake Campground in the Apalachicola National Forest near Sumatra, Florida. We had spent a night camping here in 2013 and really enjoyed our stay.

The Thanksgiving Day, bumper-to-bumper, holiday traffic had cleared out on I-75. We had an uneventful drive on northbound Interstate 75 to Interstate 10. We continued westbound on Interstate 10 to Live Oak, Florida to purchase a few groceries at the Walmart store there.

The Apalachicola National Forest is located southwest of Tallahassee, Florida. This region of Florida is one of our favorite places to visit. Very few campers, no traffic, two-lane paved roads, bordered by tall pine tree forests lining both sides of the highway as far as the eye can see.

The entrance to the Wright Lake Campground is on a two-mile, hard-packed, sand road. Wright Lake Campground is a very scenic and well-maintained campground with 20 campsites.

The campground host occupies campsite #1. Campsite #20 has an electric hookup. All other campsites are dry camping. All campsites will accommodate tents or RV’s. Amenities include a restroom facility with flush toilets and free hot showers. Several water spigots are dispersed throughout the campground. There is one dump station.

Camping rates are $10.00 for campsites 2 through 19 and $15.00 for campsite #20. All campsites are First-Come, First-Serve. America the Beautiful Pass, Golden Age Passport and Golden Access Passport receive a 50% discount on camping rates.

A hike along the Wright Lake Trail offers amazing views of the following communities:

Baygall Community
The Baygall Community appears to be a solid wall of trees, shrubs and vines. Its name may have been derived from two common plants of this community: sweetbay and large gallberry.

Continuous water seepage on and at the bases of sandy or peaty slopes is ideal for development of a Baygall Community. The presence of water and masses of moisture-laden vegetation make the area flame resistant. The Baygall Community may experience fire only once every 50 to 100 years or more.

Basin Swamp Community
Basin Swamps occupy larger water-retaining depressions. The Basin Swamp Community is similar in some respects to the Dome Swamp, although the Basin Swamp is considerably larger. Vegetation in the Basin Swamp tends to be more varied than in the Dome Swamp, but is still dominated by water-loving trees and shrubs. Like the Dome Swamp, the Basin Swamp usually dries out each year, and fire burns the swamp’s perimeter. As with the Dome Swamp, fire only occasionally reaches the Basin Swamp’s interior.

Blackwater Stream / Floodplain Swamp Community
A Blackwater Stream is so named because its waters are very darkly stained with tannins, suspended particles and dissolved organic matter drained from its adjacent Floodplain Swamp. The dark waters reduce light penetration, so little or no vegetation grows beneath them.

A Floodplain Swamp occupies the depression, or floodplain, along either side of a stream or river. A variety of trees, shrubs, vines and other plants that tolerate wet conditions thrive in this area. Because the Floodplain Swamp is generally too wet to burn, it serves as a refuge for animals fleeing fire.

The Blackwater Stream / Floodplain Swamp Community supports an abundance of animal life. An array of invertebrates, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals are found here.

Dome Swamp / Depression Marsh Community
Dome Swamps and Depression Marshes form in smaller depressions that hold water for much of the year.

Dome Swamps are scattered throughout the Pine Flatwoods of the Wright Lake area, and are either completely vegetated or have open centers. Water-loving trees such as pond cypress, blackgum tupelo and myrtle-leaved holly are dominant vegetation.

When a marsh occupies the open center of a Dome Swamp it is called a Depression Marsh. Depression Marshes are dominated by grasses, sedges and beakrushes. Maidencane is one of the more abundant grass types. Other aquatic plants, such as white water lily, may also grown in the Depression Marsh.

The Dome Swamp / Depression Marsh is an important breeding site for a number of frog and salamander species, including the rare Flatwoods salamander.

Pine Flatwoods Community
This community is comprised of open canopies of stately long leaf pines rise high above swaying strands of broomsedge and wiregrass. Scattered among the breeze-blown grasses are smaller trees and shrubs, like turkey oak, yaupon and saw palmetto.

The Pine Flatwoods Community needs fire to survive. Without fire, this community ceases to exist in its typical state and loses its park-like character and quality.

The Pine Flatwoods Community is the main natural community at Wright Lake, and occurs here in several variations.

Seepage Slope / Wet Prairie Community
For almost half the year the water table is at or near the surface in this community. Insect eating plants such as pitcher plants, sundew’s and butterworts thrive here. Many other kinds of wildflowers can also be seen. Among these is the very rare and endangered Harper’s Beauty. It is found only within a few miles-radius of this area, and nowhere else in the world!

Swamp Lake Community
Wright Lake is the largest of three Swamp Lakes in this vicinity. The waters of the Swamp Lake are darkly stained with natural substances from adjacent swamps and shoreline swamp vegetation. Sunlight penetration of the water is limited by its darkness and depth, so aquatic plant growth is severely reduced. Although the waters are very dark, they are clean and healthy. These waters support substantial populations of animal life, such as alligators, turtles, snakes, frogs and a variety of fish and invertebrate animals. Wading birds, waterfowl and other birds continually visit the lake and its environs. Otters swim, play and catch fish in the lake while raccoons forage for food along the shoreline.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Travel Details:
Departed: Ocala, Florida
Departure Time: 6:00 A.M.
Arrived: Sumatra, Florida
Arrival Time: 12:50 P.M.

Campground: Wright Lake
Type: National Forest
GPS Coordinates: Latitude: N29.99981 W085.00127 (see note)
Camping Fee: $15.00 (50% discount with Golden Age Passport)
Campsite: 20
Campsite Hookups: Electric, Water
Campground Amenities: Flush Toilets, Free Hot Showers, Dump Station

Cellular Service: Verizon – No Service
Internet Service: Verizon Jetpack – No Service

Total miles traveled today: 259
Route Traveled:
North on Interstate 75
West on Interstate 10
South on Florida Highway 297
West on Florida Highway 20
South on Florida Highway 65
West two miles on Wright Road to campground

Note: GPS coordinates will get you close to Wright Lake Road. My Garmin GPS kept trying to take me on the wrong roads just south of Sumatra. Wright Lake Road is located 2.5 miles south of the intersection of CR 379 and Florida Highway 65. The entrance to Wright Lake Road will be on the west side of 65.

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