The road to the parking area for Alderman’s Ford Preserve is paved, though nearly one lane wide for the last stretch past the 4 way stop sign. The parking area is grass, with some morning shade available. There is lots of shade when the trail is near the river, but to get there one has to pass through large open fields. This park would be too parching to visit in summer. Our visit was on a breezy later morning in early May, before the mosquitoes had gotten to replenish their numbers. The open fields had beggar-tick, passion flowers and what we think is sea radish, an invasive, and tons of butterflies, including several rare or new to us. Mike did the photo conversions.
checked white male above (Mike’s), female below. I think their spots, especially on the male, looks like lipstick marks
great southern white, on sea radish or something similar
white or common checkered skipper (Mike’s)
rattlebox moths like to land on the underside of grasses. We chased this one around trying to get a decent picture.
The “NO SWIMMING” signs at the parking area insinuate better access, but the Alafia river has carved a fairly deep channel (for Florida) and the only access to it from the western part of the trail system is down a very steep bank. The river has a few small rapids, which is unusual for Florida. A ranger with an ATV was putting out a campfire on the trail when we reached the river. There is no camping allowed in the park. It looked like there was quite a party going on with all of the beer cans strewn around.
Continuing past the impromptu campsite there was some prickly pear blooming (this and following two Mike’s)
and also an eastern fence lizard
a skipper, maybe a clouded skipper
At the western most end of the trail is the remains of the brick foundation for a railway trestle bridge, being taken back by the forest.