Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Cache River State Natural Area: Todd Fink-Heron Pond

A Zipper Convergence

See that cool "Zipper" effect?
This short, 1.5 mile, trail begins simply enough. You'll find yourself descending into a mix of hardwood forest comprised of a mix of oak, hickory and sweet gum. As you reach the bottom of your descent you will come to a small truss bridge over which you will make your way over a convergence of Dutchman's Creek and the Cache River. If you find yourself crossing this bridge without setting an eye just upstream, toward the actual meeting of these two streams of water, you are missing a truly magnificent sight. For it is here, just upstream, where the relatively clear waters of Dutchman's Creek and the rich muddy flow of the Cache River slowly merge, becoming one, but not before the waters dance together, swirling and circling, ebbing and flowing, creating an absolutely hypnotic effect. The trail continues on just the other side of the bridge, and closely follows the snaking trail of the Cache River. As you continue your hike you will find a fork in the trail, it is here that you will want to journey to the left and in just a few short yards you will find the Heron Pond boardwalk.

Down On The Boardwalk

The Heron Pond boardwalk winds its way out and into the very heart of its namesake pond. The waters here were more clear than we found at the Section 8 boardwalk, which allowed us glimpses of turtles, fish, insects, frogs and more as they swam among the giant tupelo trees and "knees" of the cypress here. In areas we found duckweed would obscure our little windows into the private underwater world of the swamps residents, occasionally these serene green mats of aquatic carpet would erupt with a violent "POP" as an underwater assassin would hungrily burst through the thin layer of duckweed in pursuit of an insect.

But Wait! There's More!

Now, after you've taken the journey on the Heron Pond boardwalk you may think that's it... But you'd be wrong. Remember that fork, where we turned left? You may be wondering what exactly would have happened had we turned right instead. Well let not your heart be troubled, because had you turned right at that fork you would have taken a trail that would have led you directly to yet another state champion tree! This time you would have discovered the state champion cherrybark oak tree that has grown to a circumference of over 22 feet and 100 feet high! You may never have quite so much fun feeling so very, very small and believe me, it's worth a quick visit to set your eyes upon this towering titan, plus it is only a few yards up that right path...


More Information:

Local Treks on facebook 
Cache River State Natural Area: Much More Than Mud & Muck - An overall view of Cache River State Natural Area
Cache River State Natural Area: Big Cypress Tree Trail - Looking for the state champion bald cypress? Take this trail!
Cache River State Natural Area: Section 8 Nature Preserve Boardwalk - Take a stroll directly through a swamp without even getting your feet wet!
Cache River State Natural Area homepage 
Hiking Maps of the Area
Barkhausen-Cache River Wetlands Center
Cache River State Natural Area Map
Color Brochure of the Area

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