Make us your home page
Instagram

Take it Outside Planner: Withlacoochee State Forest, finding butterflies, mini lobster season begins

SPOTLIGHT: Withlacoochee State Forest

The sprawling forest of 155,000 acres north of Brooksville is Florida's second largest state forest, one that the World Wildlife Fund declared one of the "top 10 coolest places you've never been in North America." It contains the Withlacoochee State Trail, one of the longest paved rail-trails in Florida that's great for cycling and walking.

For a more primordial hike, the Hog Island Nature Trail along the Withlacoochee River is a short jaunt from Nobleton in Hernando County. It is a nature trail that showcases some of the biggest cypresses around. The trail is in the shade and prone to flooding when the river is high, so expect to get your feet wet.

The Withlacoochee River, left, which starts in the Green Swamp and flows for 70 miles to the Gulf of Mexico, is ideal for paddling a canoe. The only river in Florida besides the St. Johns that flows north, a paddle on the Withlacoochee will take you past hardwood hammocks, cypress swamps, pine flatwoods, palmetto scrub, freshwater wetlands and salt marsh. You can take a two- to four-hour canoe and kayak trip out of Hog Island, Iron Bridge and Silver Lake. For reservations call (352) 796-7176 or see nobletonoutpost.com for the Nobleton Canoe Outpost, which has kayak and canoe rentals, as well as camping, at 29295 Lake Lindsey Road, Nobleton.

SITTING PRETTY: Finding butterflies

Few other forms of wildlife can be as easily observed as butterflies, and thanks to our warm weather you can find them nearly year-round here. Keep an eye out for the stunning atala butterfly, dark black with brilliant red and turquoise markings. They are plentiful in July because they feed on coontie, a palm-like shrub that thrives during humid summers.

On Saturday, Brooker Creek Preserve is holding a Bugs and Butterflies class so families can explore the world of insects that inhabit the preserve. It's free, but registration is required; Go to brookercreekpreserve.eventbrite.com or call (727) 453-6800. The class is 10:30 a.m.-noon Saturday at 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs.

If you want to attract butterflies to your yard, the Aging Well Center 1501 N Belcher Road in Clearwater, hosts a free Gardening: Monarch Butterflies class 1-2:30 p.m. Friday. You will examine milkweed seeds, a variety of caterpillars and butterflies, and learn how to improve conditions to attract monarchs. (727) 724-3070.

CLAWS OUT: Lobster mini-season

Florida's two-day lobster mini-season starts Wednesday and divers and snorkelers will be heading to the Keys. The limit is 12 lobsters per day and night-diving is permitted, so the Keys are expected to have more than 10 times the typical boat density. To avoid the crowds, Jupiter, Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami are also known for decent lobstering grounds. The quaint Broward County town of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is holding a Bugfest by the Sea Monday through July 30 with seminars, underwater photo and video contests, a lobster cook-off and chef competition. Find out more at lbtsevents.com/bugfest-by-the-sea. The regular eight-month lobster season is Aug. 6 through March 31. Check the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's site at myfwc.com for regulations.

Take it Outside Planner: Withlacoochee State Forest, finding butterflies, mini lobster season begins 07/20/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 20, 2016 10:49am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Spaceballs 2 could really happen, Mel Brooks says

    Blogs

    When Mel Brooks talks about a sequel to Spaceballs, ‘80s fans are tempted to politely smile and nod our heads. It’s a joke, we figure, because how can you possibly recapture the magic of the 1987 Star Wars spoof, especially since John Candy has passed away. 

  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for May 23

    Events

    Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons: The original Jersey boy himself has produced hits like Sherry, Walk Like A Man, Rag Doll, December '63 and Grease during his long-lasting career both solo and with the Four Seasons. 7:30 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, …

    Saint PAUL, MN - JULY 25: Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons perform at the 2010 Starkey Hearing Foundation 10th Annual "So the World May Hear" Gala at Saint Paul RiverCentre on July 25, 2010 in Saint Paul, Minnesota.   (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images for Starkey Hearing Foundation) *** Local Caption *** Frankie Valli
  3. Painted with suspense

    Stage

    TAMPA — Sometimes a show comes along that does everything. It engages the senses on every level, tells a story that feels real and keeps you guessing to the end.

    Ned Averill-Snell, left, plays Latham and Landon Green is Stumpy, two working class painters working to convert a loft for a well-off couple.
  4. Review: ABC's 'Dirty Dancing' remake should be left in a corner

    Blogs

    It seems as if nothing is sacred anymore.

    Colt Prattes and Abigail Breslin in ABC's Dirty Dancing remake.
  5. Restaurant review: Tampa wine bar Cru Cellars also a worthy spot to indulge in sophisticated plates

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA -- One of the joys of writing about businesses in a particular market over a long period of time is watching some of them find their footing, mature and blossom. Cru Cellars has seriously come into its own.

    Citrus Panzanella, with blood orange, grapefruit, orange, fennel and crouton, at Cru Cellars in Tampa.