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Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve in Port Orange

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I love hiking and I'm always looking for great places to go hiking. This week we hiked at two of the five locations of Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve. This makes three of the park entrances that we have went hiking. It is difficult to find out trail length information online when it comes to how far a family can walk with their kids using the bailouts. This blog post attempts to help in that regard.

This post is about the Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve entrance located at 1755 Martin Dairy Road in Port Orange. Other posts are done on the other entrances.

At this entrance of Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve you can take the kids on a nice hike. The entire trail loop is around 6 miles, much too long to take children on. But there are "bailouts" along the way, so you can shorten the walk and circle back to the parking lot. That's what we did. My kids (elementary school) are usually good for a 2-3 mile hike, so that's what I try to stick to. At this entrance of the park you have a few options, which I will outline here.

As you head to the beginning of the trail you will have a choice to go left or right. Here's what you will find in each direction:

  • If you head left you will go into the trail that is open to bikers and hikers. There are people on bikes that come by once in a while, so you do have to move to the side when they are coming up. The trail is great and includes walking through the woods, has many winding curves, goes near the river, and has a lot to see. It's a wonderful trail. There are a lot of roots and vegetation, and is not suitable for a stroller. If you head down this trail and use "bailout A" to circle back to the parking lot you will have walked around 1.30 miles total. If you continue on and use "bailout B" to circle back to the parking lot you will walk around 2.5 miles total. We didn't go on to bailout C, as it was getting hot and that was a good hike length for our kids. The bailout signs are kind of pointing away from the trail, so when you see the post just look at it to see what bailout you are at.
  • If you head to the right from the begining of the trail you will see that horses are allowed down that trail. We didn't see any that day, but they can go on that trail. Bikes can as well, but we were the only people on this trail in any form. This trail offers two wonderful options. As you walk about a quarter of a mile back you will come to a spot where you can go left or right. If you head to the right you will go back to  "Oxbow Overlook." This is half a mile back, so if you just walk to that and back to the parking lot you will have just over a mile walk. If you keep going and not turn to take the path to Oxbow Overlook you will head back to "Sunset Bluff." This is another 1.1 miles back from that point. If you take that walk it will be around a 2.5 mile hike round trip. Do both destinations, as we did, and it's around around a 3 mile hike round trip. 

Heading back to Oxbow Overlook and Sunset Bluff is great. The trails are wider, but there is a lot of soft sand, so it's a bit harder to walk in. Plus, you are walking on an incline to go back there, so it's slightly more vigorous. Once you reach each destination though you will be pleasantly surprised at the beautiful view! There is a wonderful view overlooking the river and marsh. Loved it!

The trails are shaded nicely, so you don't have to worry about sun exposure as much. However, take some bug spray with you. There were a lot of mosquitoes and deer flies that were biting. At first we were being attacked, but once we put No Bite Me Cream on we were fine. Neither of the trails seem suitable for a stroller. My friend that was with us carried her one-year-old in a wearable carrier. Also, always take water with you.

At least on this portion of the trail area there are no picnic tables. There is one portable toilet in the parking lot, which I had to use (darn it), but was surprised that it was really clean (thank goodness).

My husband is excited about going back there to bike ride. People do bike ride there, but you really need a good mountain bike and the ability to ride on such a rough and root-ridden terrain. Not something I would ever do, but I saw several guys doing it.

This is a great free place to take the kids on a hike. If you have company in town, depending on their hiking ability, take them back to Oxbow Overlook and/or Sunset Bluff. Both are beautiful and well worth the hike back there. 

Here are some pictures I took this week at Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve in Port Orange (Martin Dairy Road entrance):

The first set of pictures is from taking the trail going left from the beginning (the one that has the bailouts that circle back to the parking lot):

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The pictures below are ones take heading back to Sunset Bluff:

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(Above: If you come across a snake keep in mind they would rather not have anything to do with you. Calmly walk around it and keep going. No big deal.)

 

Here are the pictures going back to the Oxbow Overlook:

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Buying a better bike from Bike One in Port Orange

Bike

About 6 weeks ago my kids got new bikes and wanted to start riding them to school. It's a ride that is two miles each way. I had no problem doing it, and actually thought it would be great for the exercise... although I am not heat lover and had to work it out with my husband for him to do the afternoon pick-up ride home. But we worked it out. I would ride them to school in the morning, he would ride up and get them for the afternoon ride (he oddly likes the heat... he even did when we visited Death Valley years ago and felt the 120 degree temperatures).

Anyway, at the time I had a nice pink beach cruiser that I had been riding leisurely for a couple of years. Nice bike, but I had always rode it on shorter rides, not four miles each morning to take the kids to and from school. That bike was killing me on that morning ride! By the time I got home each day I felt exhausted. It was so hard to pedal that far and I was miserable. So we decided I needed a new bike that would be easier riding for these longer rides.

I set out looking at places like Target and Walmart. I love coaster brakes and did not want to go to hand brakes. My husband was convinced that it was the coaster brakes making it miserably hard to pedal the bike. He convinced me to (reluctantly) switch to a bike with hand brakes. Boo. I paid $170 for a bike I thought was "okay." It would do the job. I kind of liked it. Got it home and I wasn't thrilled. I had settled. It had polka dots on it that reminded me of Wonder Bread every time I looked down at them. Back to the store it went!

I traded it in for yet another $170 hand brake bike at Walmart. I liked the colors and look of this one better. Start riding it to school the next morning and oh my! Didn't take long to see the quality of this bike was really lacking. It clanked down the road, it changed gears on its own, and I felt the whole time like it was somehow in transition. I wasn't happy.

My husband stopped in Bike One, a reputable bike shop in Port Orange, when I wasn't with him. He asked some questions to the pros in there and came back to tell me that if I wanted to enjoy my bike riding I really needed to invest in a good quality bike. And he had good news: The pros explained that I would not have to give up my coaster brakes. I just needed a good quality bike and all would be just fine.

I was immediately sold and asked when we could go. He was surprised, because it's not like me to spend a lot of money on such things. My favorite stores are thrift stores, after all. But we went down to the bike shop and thus my journey to better bikehood began.

I found a bike I liked right off. They let me take it outside for a test ride, they answered my questions, they explained how the old bike I had was made cheaply with heavy metal, which is why it was so hard to pedal. It looked nice, but the quality and cheap metal made it a riding nightmare. The bike I liked at their shop was made from better higher quality materials and it was light. It was so much lighter! And it had coaster brakes. Yes, I was happy!

I decided right then to buy the bike. It was a $425 investment, but I was convinced it would be a wonderful ride for many years to come. Took the other one back to Target for a refund. They say you have a month to return the bikes, but to return them you are not supposed to have been riding them at all during that time. Um, yeah. Maybe that's because they don't want you to see/feel the poor quality that it is made of. One 4-mile ride and that was clear as day.

The guys at Bike One were great. Their selection was wonderful. And the bike? It's been 2.5 weeks now that I've had it and I have rode it many miles. It's absolutely wonderful! I am amazed at the difference in the way this bike rides and how every other bike I've ever written in my life rides. It's that darn good. It's smooth, comfortable, and I could ride this thing all day. I love it. We have aptly named it the "butter bike," because it's yellow and is smooth like butter.

I urge you that if you need a bike to consider investing in a high quality bike. When it comes to bikes you really do get what you pay for. Try taking the better bikes for a test ride and you will be amazed at the difference. Stop in and check out the great selection they have at Bike One, located at 3740 S. Nova in Port Orange (a couple of doors down from Debbie's Health Foods). Whether you want hand brakes or coaster ones this place will will help you find a bike that suits your needs, comfort, and preferences.

- Jacqueline Bodnar

Update 8/30/15 - I've had the bike for well over a year now and use it often. I've used it for rides that were as long as 11 miles. I absolutely love this bike! Even after peddling for 11 miles I am fine. The bike is so smooth and easy to peddle. I have learned that I will always own a better bike like this. It is worth the investment so that you truly enjoy the ride!

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