I would like you to take a walk along the Withlachoochee State Trail (WST), which is one of America’s finest scenic paved trails. In particular, please start in Inverness at the Apopka Trailhead. It is easy to find, with the added bonus that you get to see Inverness’s new Depot District. Just drive north on North Apopka Avenue from the Old Courthouse. When you see the red caboose or the new Depot water tower, you have found the trail. After parking, please walk to the north, keeping the caboose on your left.

I would like you to walk slowly. Take the time to enjoy the scenery. This section of the trail is called the trestle, because of the shortcut that the railroad created across Lake Henderson. This stretch of trail includes lake views on both sides and an actual vintage railroad trestle bridge.

So, why am I asking you to take this walk? Because I want you to look closely at the scenery along the trail. I want you to slow down and look. What do you see? Do you like what you see? Why do I ask you to do these things? Because I am not satisfied with the quality of the scenery and I am trying to convince state park management that they have a problem.

Exactly what is this problem? The problem is that over many years the trail-side vegetation has grown up to block the view of many scenic areas. In the case of the trestle area, you have a beautiful lake, but for most of the length of the trestle area you cannot see the water. As a trail volunteer, I managed to open a few holes before I was stopped. In other places trees are covered with vines and views of cypress trees are blocked; green screens block views of deep forests, and stretches of trail are nothing but overgrown brambles.

The reason I bring all of this up is because state park management feels that it is just my opinion that the WST has become overgrown. The implication being that it will require a significantly large public opinion to get the state to accept there is a problem. So, what do you think? Are you pleased with what you see or don’t see?

Keep the WST scenic.

Chris Conklin

Inverness

(2) comments

Ssabmud

Chris, we do appreciate you helping to take care of the trail. But that is exactly what it is....a trail. It is not a golf course and does not need to be maintained like a golf course. The birds, rabbits and other wildlife, along with the shade make it great. There are plenty of golf courses people can walk in if that is the kind of manicured landscape they want to recreate in.

CitrusCo Citizen

Chris, I agree with you on all of your other opinions except this one. I'd rather keep the habitat for wild animals there--they were there first before their habitat was paved over with the Trail. I enjoy the deep shade of the trail and the sound of birds as I bike to escape the hot Florida sun. I will not bike on trails that do not have trees and foliage for shade, which seems to be the case lately for all of the new trails. . Who cares if you can't see the lake? There are benches lakeside that you can use. Thanks for maintaining the trail for us, Chris, but remember that you're not supposed to be "bush-whacking"--just keeping the trail itself nice.

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