Saint Joseph Bay Buffer Preserve, Deal Tract

Posted By on January 10, 2018

Saint Joseph Bay Buffer Preserve, Deal Tract

1.4 miles; Port St. Joe, FL

I saw some information on this preserve on line and thought it might make an interesting little walk. I was rather disappointed, but the environment is still so different and intriguing that I can’t claim to be bored by it

Two things in that write-up caught my eye about this spot: 1) “There is a concrete walkway at the end of the trail, which leads out into the bay and provides panoramic views of the St. Joseph Bay.” Um, nope. The so-called “Deal Dock” has been removed. And 2) “the Hammock Spur Trail ends near the shore at an ancient shell midden, nestled in the middle of the hammock.” Well, uh, turns out there’s pretty much nothing to see here, either. There was also mention of a fire tower… well, the only thing left of that is the concrete pad it sat on.

Large patch of deer moss

Large patch of deer moss

Deer moss close-up

Deer moss close-up

These large patches of what I at first thought was Reindeer Moss were the first thing I noticed along this trail. Turns out, I was close…

In parts of Florida you will see grey-green, cloud-like clusters of deer moss on the ground. Deer moss is a very slow growing lichen and large mats may take decades to develop. Fire kills this lichen, so if you see large carpets of Cladina, it is an indication that the area has not been burned for a long time.

And I guess they’re both Cladina species.

St. Joseph's Bay

St. Joseph’s Bay

There were some nice views from the end of the main trail out to where the Deal Dock used to be. [Now I sound like a Rhode Islander giving directions: “Take a left at where the Almac’s used to be…”]

Hammock Spur Trail

Hammock Spur Trail

This is the other trail that leads to the shell midden.

Spanish Moss

Spanish Moss

Just past that first photo, the trail enters thick woods, with all this Spanish Moss hanging from the trees. It was all a little creepy and mysterious. Beautiful, too. But it ended in a kind of circular campsite area and, uh, okay. Shell midden. I’ll have to take their word for that.

You can find out more about the St. Joseph Bay Buffer Preserve from the state website. As always, click the image above for details about this hike and to download the gps track.

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