Trail Walking in Fort Desoto

We have a lot of options when we feel like going to the beach. Clearwater is a great beach if you feel like getting stuck in traffic and watching the elderly speedo-clad European tourists. St. Pete Beach is a great way to spend the day staring at condos. Madeira Beach is terrific for watching crazy old people do some Nordic walking, that weird sport where people power walk with ski poles.
I have only lived in Florida for about three years, and the beaches are still a novelty to me. I love how cheap it is to go there. All of my friends back home have to save money to go the beach, but for me it is something I can do for less than ten bucks.
This is why I like Fort Desoto. It is a great beach to gather all your friends, chill out and throw a football around. It certainly has elements of all the other beaches. You are likely to catch a tourist or two and you may even spot a few men in ill-fitting swimsuits, but the beach is so vast that these things are usually just a small blip on the radar.
However, Florida lacks something for me. It’s so flat. I miss tall tress and trail running. Everywhere I turn in Pinellas country its condos and sand. This is why it was so wonderful when I found another reason to love Fort Desoto.
This beach not only offers a great expanse of sand and water, but it also boasts some terrific walking trails. Everyone I ever asked in Pinellas county always told me I would have to go to Hillsborough to find forests and trails. Few people realize that Fort Desoto offers the very thing I have missed the most.
When you enter the park, if you head toward the north beach, you will notice a picnic area to your right. Turn in there and follow the winding road until you come to a small parking lot. In this area you find secluded walking trails that twist and turn through the inner parts of Fort Desoto. Some trails curve by the water, and with some sure footing and a little bit of ducking, you can find yourself on a private little slab of sand staring at the Skyway Bridge. The trees tower above your head and you can always deviate from the trail, walking around cacti and small palms, catching a few glimpses of undisturbed nature.
The paths are clearly marked with signs, making it difficult to get lost. You can easily spend hours roaming the area, void of high rises. You can almost forget that civilization is just a stone’s throw away.
Trails can be an incredibly relaxing and meditative experience. To make things even better, you can emerge from the woods and find yourself on the beautiful beach or meandering through the old fort. It is the kind of place where you spend a whole day, away from homework, televisions or loud roommates.
However, it is not always a solitary experience. Other people are aware of Fort Desoto’s walking trails. Sometimes you meet an overly friendly dog or a few teenagers up to no good. While my experience is more of the quiet kind, you never know what to expect from such a secluded area.


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