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Hike the Bluefield Ranch Natural Area
Join Rita for 10.5 mile hike in this beautiful former ranch. Expect wet, muddy and rough terrain. There is some good sun exposure too, so be prepared! Please do not sign up if you don't think you can make that many miles, and at a pace of 2.5-3 mph, depending on terrain. This is truly in the middle of nowhere and if you start you will need to finish the whole hike with the group. This 3285 acre natural area contains scub, pine flatwoods, prairie hammock, wet flatwoods, wet prairie, dry prairie and depression marsh; quite a variety of habitat! A little under the halfway point (4 miles in) is a primitive campsite with picnic tables and portalets where we will take a break. Bring plenty to stay hydrated and a snack/lunch. I'm starting this hike at 9am, to allow time for those traveling a pretty long distance. Public/strenuous Contact: Rita Black[masked] I do not carry my cell on me at work, so please feel free to text. And if you call, please leave a voice mail, so I can get back to you. Cell service tends to drop as you turn onto the gravel, so please pay attention to the directions above. Looking forward to hiking with you all on National Go Take a Hike Day!

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Bluefield Ranch Preserve

10270 Bluefield Rd · Okeechobee

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Founded in 1964, the Florida Trail Association is a private non-profit organization that oversees the volunteer effort to build, maintain, protect and promote the Florida Trail (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_National_Scenic_Trail), one of eleven National Scenic Trails (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Scenic_Trail) in the United States. Based in Gainesville, FL (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gainesville,_FL), the Florida Trail Association's mission also includes:

Building and maintaining hiking trails on other public lands.

Providing educational opportunities for people to learn to appreciate and conserve the natural beauty of Florida.

Providing recreational opportunities for hiking and camping.

With 18 local chapters dispersed geographically throughout Florida (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida), the Florida Trail Association draws on local support to build and maintain hiking trails, to provide guided outdoor recreation opportunities for the public, and to work with landowners to acquire protected natural lands to ensure a quality hiking experience for hikers on the Florida Trail corridor.

The Florida Trail Association works directly in concert with the federal land manager of the Florida Trail, the USDA Forest Service (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USDA_Forest_Service), to facilitate the acquisition of land, to direct volunteer efforts, and to provide public outreach.

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One must understand that joining this Meetup site does not automatically make you a member of the Florida Trail Association. "Real" membership requires becoming a paid member of the FTA. Please consider joining at:

http://208.71.18.160/store/html/category.cfm?id=86

We are the Loxahatchee Chapter of the Florida Trail Association. Our Chapter is located in the Palm Beach County area. If you enjoy hiking, backpacking, camping, eco-volunteering, this is the group for you!

FTA membership is not mandatory to hike our trails, but it is encouraged. To join the Florida Trail Association (includes membership in the Loxahatchee Chapter) go to http://www.floridatrail.org. Members receive many benefits, including automatic membership in the Loxahatchee Chapter, which holds its own meetings and activities and sends out a newsletter pertinent to what's going on in your area; a subscription to the Florida Trail Footprint newsletter; free trail maintenance training workshops, including chainsaw certification; free participation in F-Troop, our team-building volunteer trail crews that tackle large projects like building bridges and boardwalks; a window decal and logo patch; opportunity to participate on decision-making committees covering major hiking issues; and voting privileges.

Activities are organized by authorized activity leaders. Participants in activities must sign an Assumption of Risk form and agree to accept personal responsibility for their safety and the safety of accompanying minors. Always contact (phone call) the activity leader in advance for more information, to let them know you are attending, and to find out about any special requirements for a trip.

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