Cracker Creek

Peacocks, chickens, and roosters were roaming throughout the surrounding area as we drove up to Cracker Creek located at 1795 Taylor Road in Port Orange. Cracker Creek a 20-acre site now a sanctuary once owned by Roland Johnson caretaker to the Gamble estate. All the buildings adjacent to the original cabin privately owned.

Embark on the Key Largo a pontoon boat at Cracker Creek Landing for a 1-hour boat ride on Spruce Creek. With Captain Larry at the helm and Jill as a guide she gave us an in-depth narrative of the area. Cracker Creek named for the early Spanish Cowboys.

 

 

 

 

In the late 1890s, James Gamble founder of Procter & Gamble bought 200 acres for use as a daytime hunting and fishing lodge for family and friends. Spruce Creek Airport originally named Spruce Creek Township Fly-In. A private airport once used as a remote field during World War II. Bill & Betty Russell Park a private park for residents of Spruce Creek the only access is by boat. Spruce Creek Preserve includes 2,200 acres of conservation land. Cruising toward the Williamson Bridge that the locals call Moody Bridge our guide pointed out the different trees that make up the Hardwood Hammocks and marshlands. Spanish moss also called Old Man’s Gray Beard found throughout the creek. Different species of Birds of prey, Jill pointing towards a Red Shouldered Hawk atop a tree.

Endangered Scrub jays, endangered Panthers, Herons, Alligators, and Bobcats some of the animals that inhabit the area and are seen during the spring. After the boat ride stay for a demonstration by Captain Larry of the different style of whips that the cowboys use.

Walk along the path to the Gamble Retreat and read the plaque about the replica of Snow White’s Cottage and adjacent structures. Pick up a brochure that lists the many services offered at Cracker Creek. I recommend the pontoon boat tour a very relaxing and informative tour. Admission prices and hours of operation on the website.

 

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park

 

 

 

 

Wild horses and Buffalo graze on the prairie located at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park at 100 Savannah Road in Micanopy. Named after King Payne the Seminole Chief and dedicated a National Natural Landmark. Climb the 50-foot observation tower stopping halfway and looking outward to watch the animals as they graze. Be aware of wildlife crossings as you drive down the road to the Visitor Center.

Walk along the paved trails that surround the Visitor Center or hike through the many trails surrounded by different species of plants and animals. Bring a picnic lunch and sit on the ledge behind the Visitor Center while looking out at the prairie.

Watch a film in the Visitor Center about the prairie and the different species of wildlife. A timeline of early tribes, early settlers, and places. The Bobcat is elusive and alligators that live in marshes and other freshwater environments of Florida over 1 million strong.

Browse in the gift shop for t-shirts, and postcards. Books on eco-trips in Florida, Florida’s Indians, birds and snakes. Drive along a byway; visit a small town in “Best Backroads of Florida.”

I recommend the park but call the Visitor Center for hours of operation. Park hours and admission prices on the website.