When we were looking for some place new to visit in the Central Florida/Walt Disney World area, an internet search turned up Shingle Creek Regional Park in Kissimmee. After reading the small amount of information and looking at a couple of photos, we decided it was a good place for us - trails, nature, wildlife, history, swamp. Just about everything we enjoy seeing in one place. So we went for a drive to find it.
Interestingly, the main area of the park was just off U.S. 192 right in Kissimmee. We had driven by there many times before, but we had never noticed that a park was there, even though it had been open since 2009. So we turned in, parked our car, and set off for a hike along the trails.
This part of the park was once part of a large homestead, and many of the buildings have been preserved and rebuilt. This caretaker’s house from 1920 looked interesting. Unfortunately, the buildings were blocked off so that you couldn’t go inside them, although I completely understand why they did that.
The Steffee family cabin is located on the bank of Shingle Creek, and it looks like an ideal place to live. May not quite as ideal back in the late 1800s, when major retail stores and theme parks weren’t close by. But then maybe it was actually better back then, because there weren’t major retail stores and theme parks close by. I guess it depends on what you want out of life.
I like this view from across the creek of the Steffee cabin, with the trees and Spanish moss reflecting in the water. At least they had a little bit of shade to protect them from the Florida heat and humidity. Although there isn’t much of anything that can really protect you from that.
Pressing further into the wilderness, we came to a boardwalk through the swampy areas of the park, which is just the kind of thing that we love. Here, the boardwalk zigzags close to the ground, although farther on it is elevated above the standing water.
I like views like this of swampy areas, perhaps partly because it seems like areas such as this would be just about impossible to navigate without an elevated walkway. Or a boat. And without all of the people around that open dry ground would bring, this area seems all the more peaceful.
Did I mention that I like views like this? Because I do. And it seems more than just a few miles away from all those flashy, fancy theme parks. Almost like a different world.
Okay, enough of these watery views. Although I do have lots and lots more if anyone wants to see them. They may start to all look the same after a while, but I like them all.
Wouldn’t you love to have a porch that wraps around your entire house like that? Laura would, and she reminds me of it when we see one like this. It would be nice to sit out on the porch and watch all of the nature around you. Although I would guess that a lot of the wildlife part of nature left once they put in paved parking.
These mile markers are familiar to anyone who has ever driven along U.S. 192 in this area. And this one was actually seen from the nature trail as it wound its way up close to the highway. It was pretty startling to suddenly be reminded that we were in a high traffic tourist area instead of way off in the wilderness somewhere.
The other part of Shingle Creek Regional Park was an old citrus plantation, and this part is separate from the Steffee Homestead area. Unless you have a kayak to paddle up Shingle Creek, you have to drive a couple of blocks to get to the plantation. But it is definitely worth the drive.
In one of the old barns of the plantation was this old vehicle, which obviously hasn’t run in many years. It was really cool to see, even if its make and model weren’t easily identifiable. I’m glad they left it there, because it really adds to the historical feel of the place.
As with the other area, there is also a boardwalk here, too, although this one is mainly on the ground. But the main difference is the shade, or the lack of shade here. That sun can get hot! Which means that this trail can get hot. Take it from us - we know.
Even with the heat, there are some interesting views of the area in its “natural” state. We were hoping to see some sort of wildlife here, but all that we saw were a few birds. I guess it was too hot for the animals to be out, too.
Here is one last look at the plantation buildings to conclude. We enjoyed our visit to Shingle Creek Regional Park to walk the trails and feel like we had stepped back in time. And I think it is safe to say that we will return once again in the future to enjoy a relaxing afternoon. And some heat.