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.