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The It List: Walk softly and shut out the world

By DOUG BENNETT
Published February 23, 2007


You know IT when you find IT: It's something unique, something out of the way, something you could find only at one place in the Brandon and South Shore area. Send your picks, finds and hidden treasures to brandon@sptimes.com.

 

Turn off McMullen Road and park. Within 40 paces, the traffic noise starts to subside. A trail of pearl-white sand leads into the hammock.

The early-morning sun strains against the February chill. Warm breath and cold air mingle in a wispy fog. Up ahead, sunlight pokes through gossamer strands of Spanish moss dangling from oak and pine branches.

This is the Bell Creek Nature Preserve, 5 miles of trails and a convenient refuge from Riverview's sprawl.

Keep walking. There's more.

To the right, a marsh and a lake. To the left, an oak hammock. Around the bend is more sand pine scrub, home to the rare and endangered golden aster flower. Hulking, 9-inch pine cones dot the ground.

On a lucky day, there might be a gopher tortoise or sandhill crane sighting.

Finally, the hum of tires on asphalt subsides.

In its place, a chorus of bird songs is broken only by an occasional rustle in the underbrush.

Doug Bennett can be reached at 661-2440 or dbennett@sptimes.com.

Fast Facts:

 

Getting there

Bell Creek Nature Preserve is at 10940 McMullen Road, Riverview. From Boyette Road, go south 1 mile to the preserve entrance on the east side of the road. Walk-through entrances no parking are off Boyette Road east of McMullen and at Brushfield Street, Donneymoor Drive and Balmoralfeif Lane. Open during daylight hours. Leashed dogs allowed; no horses or bikes. Call 672-7876.