Category Archives: Tate’s Hell State Forest

BLOOMIN’ FLOWERS ON WOMACK CREEK, TATE’S HELL SF, March 12, 2019

Swamp jessamine were more prolific on the creek this year than in year’s past, As were crossvines.

At the entrance, golden clubs were still blooming.

Bristly buttercup still blooming throughout the lower creek where there is more sun.

The oaks were setting out their blooms: live oak and water oaks.

Southern dewberry and Pennsylvania black berries promise fruit later in the season.

Still blooming are Walter’s viburnum and parsley haw. Walters are usually are going to seed as the Virginia sweetspire start to bloom and the heat-sensitive parsley haw blooms fading with warm temperatures.

And definitely before Rusty haws bloom or fringe trees.



Poison ivy are blooming and pinxsters will be blooming for a few weeks more.

At Nick’s Road Campsite where we stopped for lunch, candy root, round leaf bluets and primrose violets were still blooming. Cinnamon fern were starting to sprout.

Spatterdock, just beginning to bloom.

A nice day to be on the creek.

CRITTERS ARE STIRRING ON WOMACK CREEK, TATE’S HELL SF — March 12, 2019

This mud turtle was making its way from one ditch to another on Jeff Sanders Road near the Womack Creek Campground.

The walls of the restrooms at the Womack Creek campground is a good place to find moths.

And mosquitos and oak twig pruners.

And on the creek, it was warm enough for a Suwanee cooter and river cooters.

And American alligators.

And a brown water snake.

Ringed paper wasps were starting their nests.

Spotted fishing spiders were out.

And a fisherwoman, silently going down stream with her trolling motor.

She was calling it a day as we were starting it, having caught her meal for the day.

The swamps are blooming!

Tate’s Hell State Forest is a watershed; swamps are to be expected.

You may not think of visiting the northern border, with FR 22 separating the state forest on the south from the Apalachicola National Forest to the north, as a place to look for carnivorous plants. This is not on the wild flower trail which offers stupendous blooms off SR 65. It is over 8 miles east of Sumatra on a sandy forest road.

It was a wet non-winter and early spring and a section close to the New River is blooming right now.

Yellow pitcher plants will first catch your eye.

If you stop to examine the area, you will also see, Burke’s southern pitcher plants.

The full face of the flower is shown on the opening of this post.

Some are still in bud.

Pink sundews are all over the ground — hard not to step on them.

And interspersed are Zigzag bladderworts.

Also bunches of flattened pipewort.

They look like nature’s pincushions (like phone books, not a contemporary common reference.)

Bog club mosses can be found in the Apalachicola National Forest where the ground is perennuially wet, but they were in Tate’s Hell SF, also.

Looks like a green centipede.

Among all of that, the white bog violets are still blooming. These have thinner, longer leaves. There are more on the western section of Tate’s Hell SF than the eastern sections which has the white primrose leafed white violets.

Nearby, in small clumps, but noticeable because of their golden color, are Savannah sneezeweed.

At the New River one will see mayberry and high bush blueberries beginning to fruit.

And Atlantic White Cypress (cedar) fruiting.

Flatwoods St. John’s wort are still blooming.

And with the warmth, dragon flies appear — this one a blue corporal.

A great day to be out enjoying the forest.

This is a Cotton Mouth – Gully Branch Road, Tate’s Hell State Forest

This cotton mouth (water moccasin) was crossing from one ditch to the other on Gully Branch Road.

Having seen a lot of water snakes on Womack Creek, and not seeing the indicator of a venomous snake — its triangular shaped head — I assumed it was a brown water snake. However, just in case I was wrong, I gave it enough breadt. It stayed put while I walked around it, taking snap shots.

Later, I found out it was a cotton mouth.

This is what I should have known: dark strips by each nostril and pale snout. The triangular head on this one was not noticeably triangular, but the distinct neck should have been another warning. Nonvenomous water snakes do not have necks. In coloration, dark brown, black to olive and with brown or yellow banding, it looks like come water snakes. If I got close enough, I should have noticed that its pupils are vertical, like cat pupils, not round in most nonvenomous snakes.

Fortunately, they are not known to be aggressive. However, had it been warning me, it would have coiled and exposed the inner lining of its mouth.

The bite is highly venomous and one should seek treatment immediately. Anti venom is available for this species.

As a constant paddler, I should have known how to distinguish a cotton mouth from nonvenomous snakes.

CS #3 – New River (west), Tate’s Hell State Forest

Reserve this site at Reserve America, campsite 3, New River, Tate’s Hell State Forest, New River section. When you arrive at this campsite, find the closest cell phone connection location. If you call 911, give this address: 3200 Billy’s Road, Tate’s Hell State Forest, GPS29.98360, -84.73929. First responders will not be able to find you if you only give a campsite number. Reserve America will not have this information on your confirmation.

This is perhaps the largest of Tate’s Hell State Forest’s individual primitive sites. It has two ways to drive in. This side is 2 miles north of Gully Branch Road west of the bridge at the Gully Branch Day Use area. It is on the west side of the New River. Although right off Billy’s Road, there is hardly any traffic on this road.

There is a landing for kayaks and canoes to the New River, but at low water levels, there is a steep drop.

Views of the river, first downriver and below that, upriver.

If this wasn’t a large enough site, there are wide pathways.

This would be an excellent 8 person group campsite which insures some privacy for each tent. Or a large family outing.

If you camp here, please comment on your experience.

CS #14, New River, Tate’s Hell State Forest

You can reserve this site at Reserve America, CS 14, New River, Tate’s Hell State Forest, Juniper Creek section. When you get to your site, find the closest place to get a cell signal. If you call 911, the address you should give is 3080 New River Campsite #14 Road, Tate’s Hell state Forest, GPS 29.98293–84.73386. First responders will not be able to find you if you only give the camp site number. Reserve America will not have this information on your confirmation.

A long entry to the campsite leading to a level, dry site.

The lower section at low water can be used as a recreation area, but when the water is higher, will be wet. This was taken when the river was very low, particularly for February.

There is another section which is flat and dry enough to accommodate other tents or parking.

One should be able to access the river with a canoe or kayak easily in most conditions.

When taken the river was so low this option would be risky — there was a drop to the water from the edge.

Low water levels offer other possibilities.

The view from this site is beautiful: upriver view and below that downriver view.

CS 16, New River (east), Tate’s Hell State Forest

Reserve your campsite at Reserve America, CS 16, New River, Tate’s Hell State Forest, Juniper Creek section. When you get to your campsite, find the closest location with cell connection. If you call 911, use 3400 New River Campsite #16 Road, Tate’s Hell State Forest, GPS 29.99379, -84.74567. First responders will not be able to locate you if you give only a campsite number. Reserve America does not include this information on your confirmation.

It’s a relatively short entry drive, but a much larger site than campsite 17. However, for tenters, there are exposed pine roots which may make for uncomfortable sleeping if you do not have a good air mattress. This is a good site for hammock campers because of the number of trees situated throughout the campsite.

There’s a fairly expansive area under the pines and between palmettos to dig your pits.

The launching area, has deteriorated since we last camped this site several years ago, after paddling the upper 9.5 miles of the New River. The banks have eroded some so bringing up kayaks to the campsite level may require surer footing than before.

Leaving your boats in this cut is not recommended. Although the tidal current is not felt as much up here, the water does rise with the incoming tide. There is no way to secure your boats in that channel. We were glad we did when we camped here — early morning the channel had enough water to float away any boat left there unsecured.

The view of the river is calming, particularly with your morning coffee and your evening tea.

This is a good site for paddlers, even with the effort required to get your boats up the bank.