This adventure was serene, scenic, and soul filling...thanks to the good company of my friend Courtney and her sweet dog Oso. But if you want the down and dirty truth, the vernal pools were the highlight. That's right, vernal pools. Those murky, muddy, smelly water holes in the woods that my dog likes to lay down in.
Courtney, who is highly knowledgeable about the animals that live in vernal pools, taught me about the magic happening in them. Her enthusiasm is so contagious that I found myself being swept up in the excitement of it all. She taught me about the salamander eggs we found and how mole salamanders spend 90% of their lives in the mud! I learned an endless amount of information that I just couldn't retain without pen and paper. So naturally, I went straight home to start researching vernal pools and salamander eggs.
Here are some fun facts you can share with your kids:
1. Vernal pools are small, seasonal wetlands that form in the spring by rain and snow melt, then dry up for a period during the summer.
2. Unlike a pond or lake, they have no permanent inlet or outlet, so fish can not live here.
3. In Maine, species you may find in a vernal pool include wood frogs, spotted and blue-spotted salamanders and fairy shrimp.
4. Avoiding impacts to significant vernal pools (high habitat value) is important because many amphibian species must return to the pond in which they were born to breed. Isn't that just amazing?!
Now that we've covered our hot topic of the week, let's learn about Florida Lake.
First things first, it was given the name because, well, it resembles the shape of the State of Florida. The loop that surrounds the lake is 2.9 miles of mostly flat terrain, featuring wetlands, streams, mature forests and of course, a large lake. According to the Freeport Conservation Trust's website, this 167-acre piece of property provides "an excellent habitat for waterfowl and a wide variety of birds, as well as beaver, deer, and moose". And let's not forget about the wood frogs, spotted and blue-spotted salamanders and fairy shrimp. These trails are wet and muddy, so be sure to wear boots. I also suggest boots for exploring the many vernal pools here, which your kids will inevitably discover on their own. Trust me.
To get to the parking lot, here are some directions from the Freeport Conservation Trust, "Take Route 136 north of I-295. At the blinking yellow light, turn right onto Route 125 (Wardtown Road). Drive 2.4 miles to a blue sign on the right." Follow the access road to the parking area. You can also just follow the directions on All Trails.
Here is a map of the trail system.
Take the larger loop around the lake, or explore the shorter blue loop that winds through the woods. We opted for the loop and were not disappointed.
I did return to this spot in the winter with a few friends. One lives in Bowdoinham, so this was a great meeting spot, since the rest of us live in Portland. We enjoyed a snowy walk on a gorgeous sunny day here. It was just as beautiful in the winter as it was in the spring. Enjoy this trail in any season you choose to come!