We woke up at 4:45 one morning to head out to the trails at Circle B Bar Reserve for a sunrise shoot and hike. If you’ve read my other blog posts, you already know that Circle B is one of my favorite spots in Florida to photograph wildlife, especially alligators. While I’ve hiked the trails at this reserve countless times, I had never spent sunrise exploring the property.
When we got to Circle B, we quickly sprayed ourselves to keep mosquitos and other biting insects at bay and made our way to the Alligator Alley trail. It’s hard to explain the excitement I feel when throwing my backpack of gear on and heading out to a trail I love.
While walking along the trail, I couldn’t help but think about how lucky I am to live within an hour of such an incredible place. Daylight started to peek through the trees, birds were chirping, and we were totally alone on the trail – it was a most excellent way to begin the hike.
Having never been along the lake at sunrise, I wasn’t sure what the conditions would be like or what animals would be on the trails. I had imagined that a good deal of wildlife would be out and about, but what we walked into was almost overwhelming.
As the sun rose, alligators made their way to the shallows and hunted among the cypress knees. Birds were everywhere, catching fish and squawking at one another. Flowers and spider webs were glowing in the golden light. There was so much going on. At times, I wasn’t sure where to point my camera.
One of my favorite parts about shooting at Circle B at sunrise was capturing how the morning light really made the gators’ eyes pop.
We spent about three and a half hours hiking around the reserve, enjoying the abundance of wildlife that had started their day early like we did. During this trip to Circle B, we saw gators of all sizes, turtles, herons, Osprey, woodpeckers, limpkins, egrets, ibises, anhingas, lizards, spiders, dragonflies, butterflies, and a marsh rabbit.
Know Before You Go:
+ The trails open at 6:00 a.m. Standard Time and 5:30 a.m. Daylight Savings Time.
+ Facilities open at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday – Saturday and noon on Sundays. (The center is not open on Mondays.) If you have time during your visit, I highly recommend checking this discovery center out! The air-conditioned facility offers clean bathrooms, a water fountain, an incredible indoor playground for kids, and great exhibits about the area.
+ There are porta potties not far from the main parking lot you can use if the center isn’t open yet. If you get the call of nature while on the trails, you’re on your own.
+ It’s best to prepare for mosquitos and other biting insects during warmer parts of the year so bring some bug spray.
+ While a good portion of the Alligator Alley trail is somewhat shaded by the trees, many other areas of the reserve are not shaded. During the summer months, it’s wise to bring a hat and plenty of sunscreen with you.
+ This reserve is teeming with wildlife year-round. I’ve frequently seen all kinds of animals at this park, including hawks, woodpeckers, Osprey, gators, fish, turtles, storks, eagles, Sandhill Cranes, Roseate Spoonbills, herons, wild boar, ibises, and anhingas, just to name a few. Please be respectful of the animals and their personal space. Additionally, please heed the warnings posted throughout the reserve.
+ Pets are not allowed in the reserve so please keep your furry family members at home.