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Gulf Coast Hikes

posted Mar 14, 2018, 5:04 PM by Justin P   [ updated Apr 19, 2018, 4:18 PM ]

Wednesday morning, I had breakfast at the hotel and after checking out, made the short drive over to Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park.  After getting my stuff together, I first set off on the Tarkiln Bayou Trail.  This half-mile trail is initially paved and then leads to a long boardwalk.  There were some beautiful white-topped pitcher plants right along the trail.

These pitcher plants have variable color, with some being a deep crimson.

A few had started producing flowers.

The boardwalk ends at an overlook at Tarkiln Bay.

A large bird flew overhead, maybe an osprey or kistrel, but he was too fast to get a picture.

It was kind of windy so after a couple shots of the bay, I headed back.  Near the start, I turned and took the longer Perdido Bay Trail.  This trail follows old roads, but many spots were swampy and I had to find a dry way around.  There was a lot of saw palmetto growing in this area.

Eventually, the trail split and I went right to where the trail runs parallel to the shore of Perdido Bay.

A couple short spur trails led out to the small beach with beautiful white sand.

Perdido Bay separates Florida and Alabama and I could Alabama across the bay.

Continuing on the trail leads to DuPont Point where a sandbar made a narrow tip at the point.

Sea oats were starting to form some small dunes here.

This was a particularly nice spot without the excessive development of Pensacola and Gulf Shores.  The trail then departed from the shore and headed further inland through a pine savanna.  As the trail looped back around, I took a spur trail to Tarkiln Bay.

I got a couple pictures of the scenic bay and then headed back to the main trail.  I spotted a baby palmetto on the way back.

After finishing the loop, I left the park and crossed into Alabama, heading to Gulf Shores.  I parked at the trailhead for Catman Road in Gulf State Park.  Part of the Hugh S. Branyon backcountry trail, this network of paved and boardwalk trails lead throughout the park and provide access to the beach.  Following this trail for about 2 miles, I took Rosemary Dunes Trail towards the gator swamp.  Unfortunately, there were no gators here today, but a local couple said this was the best place to see them.  At the end, I got on the Beach Mouse Bypass boardwalk heading further west.

Along here, I spotted a couple of nine-banded armadillos rooting around.

They're kind of cute but glad they don't live near me.

They eat grubs and insects but their burrowing really tears up the ground and makes a mess.  Plus, they can transmit leprosy.

Soon I came to the scenic Middle Lake and the boardwalk trail provided great views.

In the near future, an elevated boardwalk will lead over the road and provide beach access, but it's incomplete and not yet open.

So I continued on the boardwalk for some more views of the lake.

At the campground, I turned left and spotted a mourning dove along the road.

I followed the campground road out and turned left to reach the beach access.  It ended up being a pretty long hike, but the white sand beach was really beautiful and there wasn't another person in sight.

I took off my shoes and got about ankle deep in the water.  It wasn't particularly cold, but I wasn't going in any further.

After drying off my feet, I started heading back.  I spotted two more armadillos on the way back; not sure if they were the same or different than those I had seen earlier.

It was over 5 miles back to the car, but such nice weather made for a pleasant walk.  Near the wooden lookout structure, I spotted an eagle nest high in a tree near Little Lake.

It was too far away for a good picture, but there was an eagle in the nest.  After some pictures, I finished the hike back to the car.  I headed through Mobile to the Comfort Inn at Tillman Corner.  It was surprisingly nice and Tameka, the lady at the front desk was really sweet and helpful.  I had tacos for dinner at San Jose Taqueria and then went to bed.