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Winter time is the best time to visit the Refuge

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By Ada Lang

Cedar Key resident, Bob Hudson recently visited the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge with a friend - in an attempt to hunt hogs. While they didn’t shoot any hogs, Hudson did shoot some really interesting photographs.

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Winter is one of the best times of the year to visit the Refuge and you don’t have to be a hunter. There is a marked trail that goes from the parking area at the north entrance of the refuge down to the Suwannee River - where there is an overlook. Additionally, several other overlooks have been built along the way. The walk allows you to get a closer look at swamp land that feels eerily prehistoric.

There are old grass covered, logging roads that are raised up above the swamp - which makes it an easy trek either on foot or bike and there are virtually no biting bugs in the winter time.

Air plants hang off of trees and cypress stands show off their roots during the dry season and snakes and gators are less likely to be seen. But, you will see an assortment of birds, manatees in the river, deer and maybe some hogs.

If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, you can park at some of the gates that close off other logging roads going into the Refuge. You can then walk or bike deeper into the Refuge and get very close to the Gulf in some areas.

You can get to the Refuge by going down CR 347 and you will see signs. Pull into the North Entrance Gate and you will come to a sign marking the entrance to the River Walk down to the River.

Make sure to bring a good camera, plenty of water and snacks, a compass and a GPS, if you have one. Or a note pad and pencil so you can draw a map to get you back out, if you think you might get turned around.

Better yet, stop in at the ranger’s station and pick up a map and some pointers on some of the better spots to see this time of year. If you want to know how to avoid hogs, call Bob. He and his friend are experts at how to not find hogs in the Refuge.