Birding · Commonly Backpacked · Lake · River/Creek
Need to Know
- This area is very remote.
- There's water pretty much all the time along the way. But it's mostly dark tannic water! We filtered only moving water and found it quite good actually (no bad taste) it just looks like apple juice! It didn't clog our filter also (Katadyn Hiker Microfilter).
- Bringing two pairs of shoes is your best bet. One to hike in and get wet, one for using at camp.
- You'll find lots of ticks in dry areas. Check and recheck every day, several times. Tick repellent is a good idea.
- There are some long stretches of prescribed burn forest. Sometimes the blazes marking the trail get burnt and disappear.
- Try to follow the orange blazes religiously. There are several forest road connections that may be confusing. A gpx track on a phone or even the Hiking Project mobile app
- Several bail out options (road crossings) exist, but you'll end up hitchhiking in a very remote area.
Orange blazes all the way are easy to follow. Several primitive campsites offer nice tent spots, a fire ring, and a bench (being eaten away by carpenter bees!!)
- Day 1: From Porter Lake Campground the trail keeps going through long leaf pines, palmetto forests, and small swamps. Camp at Sapling Head primitive campsite (10 miles) or keep going to Vilas primitive campsite (19 miles) or anywhere in between!
- Day 2: The scenery changes a bit as the trail crosses dryer areas with more oaks. There's a very pretty pond worth a stop to poke around (Bonnet Pond, blue blazes and a bench!). There are some surprising log structures that can be used to avoid the swamps—though watch out, sometimes they exist and sometimes not! Camel Lake Campground is mostly an RV camp but quite friendly for those on foot ($10 for pitching a tent, trash service, water, flush toilet and hot shower!). Today's length is 10 miles from Vilas Campsite.
- Day 3: The last stretch from Camel Lake to Route 12 avoids a big swamp by going around. Expect a tough trail with ankle-twisting grass lumps. There are many wet areas over its 5 mile length.
Flora & Fauna
- We saw deer, one coyote, one black snake (probably a rat snake), and one Moccasin Water Snake, poisonous but just warming up, coiled up, still don't step on one.
- Some flowers exist in spring, but March is probably still too early for flowers.
- There are few mosquitoes in the spring. That's the good trade off for colder swamp waters!
Shared By: Joao Bras-Jorge