Hear the call of the wild? It's near

By Times Staff
Published June 25, 2007

Sure, it's hot. But the kids are out of school. The tourists are gone. Why not take advantage of the time to get up close and personal with the land, water and creatures all around you? A few ideas to get you started:

1 Explore one of the area's oldest parks, Philippe Park in Safety Harbor. The free two-hour hike starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at the park, 2525 Philippe Parkway. Closed-toed shoes, water, sunscreen, a hat and insect repellent are recommended. Registration is required at (727) 669-1947.

2 A 5K and 10K walk to celebrate National Trails Day takes place Saturday at the Hillsborough River State Park. Hosted by the Florida Park Service and the Suncoast Sandpipers walking club, the event kicks off at 8:15 a.m. Walkers must pay a $2 participation fee. The Hillsborough River State Park also charges an entrance fee of $4 per carload. The park offers camping, picnic areas, canoes, biking and swimming. The Hillsborough River State Park is 9 miles north of Tampa, at 15402 U.S. 301 N in Thonotosassa.

3 Gather up your tents, marshmallows and campfire stories for an old-fashioned camping trip. Pasco County's Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park has 16 campsites (as well as eight primitive cabins that must be booked in advance) at the 8, 300-acre park, 10500 Wilderness Park Road in New Port Richey. Check out the nature trails, Audubon Society-designed birding trail and the remains of the James McNeill 19th century homestead. Registration for camping is required at (727) 834-3247.

4 You can get hands-on experience with nature during several activities in July at the Chinsegut Nature Center in Hernando County. A Spider Prowl is scheduled from 8 to 10 p.m. July 6. Biologist Mark Stowe will lead the nocturnal trail walk. Bring a flashlight and insect repellent. A Big Pine Wildflower and Tree Walk will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. July 10. Meet at the Big Pine Tract of the Withlacoochee State Forest off Old Crystal River Road, north of Brooksville. A Map and Compass Class is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon July 24. Participants will learn how to use a map and compass, and about orienteering and geocaching. Equipment will be supplied. The programs are free. The nature center is at 23212 Lake Lindsey Road, north of Brooksville. Call (352) 754-6722 for reservations or information.

Times Staff Writers