The Yearling Trail
The Yearling Trail in Ocala National Forest follows historical sites of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Pulitzer prize winning book of the same name. This trail can be done as an out and back, or if a rider has help to get over a number of fallen logs, it can be made into a loop. The trail is best suited for rear driven handcycles, although front driven can probably handle the out and back.
Out and Back
From the trailhead just off FL-19 the trail quickly becomes a moderately wide sandy path. While this stretch can be soft after extended dry periods, it is more of a hindrance sand than the strength-sapping sugar sand some Florida trails are known for. The trail is bordered by brushy plants forming a tunnel through a picturesque sand scrub landscape interspersed with occasional larger trees.
At 0.8 miles the main trail continues straight, while the Jody’s Trace portion of the loop splits off to the right. Continue straight approximately 0.9 miles to another junction. Just a few hundred feet to the left (south) lies the Long Family graveyard. A turn to the right brings the rider to a massive sinkhole after about 0.25 miles. This sinkhole is where residents of Pine Island used to get their drinking water.
Returning the 0.25 miles to the main trail, riders can continue another 0.8 miles along the main trail to its junction with the Florida National Scenic Trail. Out and back riders can continue along the Florida Trail for a distance here if they choose, however at some point they will have to make a 180 and return via the trail they entered.
As a Loop
When the Jody’s Trace trail branches off from the main section turn right. The trail soon narrows with brush rubbing against your wheels and a number of fallen logs to traverse. This is where having a helper or the ability to dismount and re-mount the handcycle will be important. When I did this trail on April 20, 2019 I ran into about a half dozen logs. Here the trail passes through open pine forest with an understory of saw palmetto. Approximately 0.6 miles from the branch to Jody’s Trace, the trail passes an old ‘cattle dip.’ These concrete basins were used to treat cattle for ticks and other pests.
A further 0.6 miles along this stretch brings riders to the giant sinkhole. Continuing the loop, riders follow a section of the trail called ‘Major Churchill Road’ although road is a misleading term as it’s merely a decently sized hiking trail. This portion continues approximately 0.5 miles to a junction with the Florida Trail. Here riders turn left, following the trail to its junction with the yearling trail as described in the out and back. The return trip is largely a straight turn east back to the parking lot.
Trail Name: The Yearling Trail
Location: Fort McCoy, Florida | Map
Type: Narrow trail (< 30"), Wide trail (≥ 30″), Start and end at the same point (Out-and-Back)
Rating: Adaptive Level 05
Steepest Section: Mild – under 10º
Most Off-Camber Section: Flat
Terrain: All hardpack
Obstacles: Brush and/or other growth, Sand traps, Logs
Help Needed? Nope
Even more info: Ocala National Forest Official Site
Directions to Trailhead
From the intersection of SR 40 and SR 19 to the east of Juniper Springs, drive north on SR 19 for 6.2 miles. The trailhead is well marked by a large sign on the left, across from the entrance to Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area.