Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary

6.00 Miles
3stars (3.17)3
2stars (2.00)
4stars (4.33)
More Info
Cypress Knees
As expected, lots and lots of Cypress along the creek bottom (Photo by CraigS)
Sandy Trail in Sandyland
This is typical of most of the trail (Photo by CraigS)
Slough in creek bottom
One of many sloughs along the way (Photo by CraigS)
Village Creek
A view of Village Creek along the Flood Plain trail (Photo by CraigS)
Entrance to Sandyland
This is a the trail head of Sandyland (Photo by CraigS)
Massive Tree
The highlight of the Floodplain Trail was finding this massive, hollowed out tree dotted with woodpecker holes. It must have been 6-7 feet in diameter. My 4' hiking stick provides some scale as to its size. (Photo by Blaze)
Floodplain Trail Direction Markers
At times when the trail was hard to find, these small circular direction markers pointed the way. (Photo by Blaze)
Another View Of The Floodplain Trail
Beware of snakes in the high grass down along the creek. (Photo by Blaze)
View Of The Floodplain Trail
The Floodplain Trail was overgrown with vegetation and in need of maintenance. It was hard to find the trail at times. (Photo by Blaze)
Village Creek
The Floodplain Trail takes you down to and along Village Creek. (Photo by Blaze)
Interpretive Trail
The Longleaf Nature Trail is a short loop with numbered exhibits. (Photo by Blaze)
Good Signage
Signage on the Sandhills Trail was good with direction signs pointing the way. (Photo by Blaze)

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Log Entries
By CraigS on 8/2/2016
Rating: 3point5stars Difficulty: 2point5stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 3.00 Miles Duration: N/A
Very Secluded Trails
By Blaze on 5/7/2013
Rating: 1point5stars Difficulty: 1point5stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 7.10 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 51 minutes

The Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary is a large plot of land off Hwy 327 that offers a few hiking trails.  They all branch off each other in a "tangled mess" of loops.

As the name implies, the soil here is extremely sandy, similar to the fine sand you would find at the beach.  In fact, millions of years ago this place probably was a beach.  As a result, hiking in this type of soil can be challenging as you expend a lot of energy treading it.

Within the Sanctuary, there is a nice interpretative trail called the Longleaf Nature Trail (0.8 miles), the Sandhill Loop Trail (4.0 miles), and the Floodplain Trail (2.8 miles).  I'll discuss each of these separately.

First, though, a short comment about signage and directions.  When you enter the Sanctuary, you'll soon hit a fork in the dirt road.  Go LEFT!  If you go right, it will lead you to someone's home and a maintenance shed and coming back it's easy to get misrouted onto a dirt service road.  It is nearly impossible to distinguish a dirt service road from the hiking trail, so the absence of a simple low-cost sign (<-- TRAIL) or trail map at the entrance of the Sanctuary is a major oversight.

If you go left, you will run into an Information Kiosk near a Pavillion.  There you can sign the register and find printed trail maps, including a pamphlet for the nature trail.

As for the trails, the Longleaf Nature Trail is a small loop trail that features a bunch of numbered exhibits.  They only make sense if you have the pamphlet describing what each number represents, so be sure to get a copy at the Information Kiosk.

The Sandhill Trail is a long loop trail that takes you back into the remote parts of the Sanctuary.  As the name implies, the soil is sandy (thick enough to plant your hiking stick into and have it stand on its own).  The trail also takes you past the Flatwood Ponds, but the ponds were dry the day I hiked.

Overall, these trails are well-marked with direction signs and the trees have painted blazes on them.  The Longleaf Nature Trail uses white paint blazes whereas the Sandhill Trail uses red paint blazes.

OK, now a warning.  Beware of the Floodplain Trail!  This primitive trail uses blue paint blazes and takes you down along and provides scenic views of Village Creek, but the trail is extremely poorly maintained.  I've hiked for many years and this was one of the more challenging trails to navigate because the trees, shrubs and vegetation were overgrown to the point it was hard to know where the trail was.  The trail involves a couple of creek crossings and, at a few points, I lost the trail completely.  Fortunately, in addition to the blue blazes (which sometimes are spaced too far apart), there are some small, circular direction arrows nailed onto some tree trunks at strategic places.  Look for them to find the way.

In its current condition, the Floodplain Trail is an advanced trail.  I would not recommend you hike it unless you have considerable experience and/or good compass/navigation skills because it is very easy to get lost or disoriented.  You can always backtrack and having a GPS with you would be helpful.

The other thing about this trail is it is potentially dangerous.  Do not hike it in shorts unless you have some high gaiters.  It takes you along the creek through areas where the grass is dense and as tall as your waist, making it prime cottonmouth snake country.  I was extremely vigilant, but regardless of my efforts, it would have been easy for snakes to conceal themselves in the grass or foliage.  The net effect was a heightened sense of anxiety.  I could not enjoy the scenery because of the level of paranoia and I was glad when I finished the trail.

Quiet with beautiful views
By todd5043 on 2/26/2005
Rating: 4point5stars Difficulty: 2stars Solitude: 5stars
Distance: 6.00 Miles Duration: N/A
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