Just a very short walk from the Holton Creek River Camp, stands one of the prized features of the real Florida, the largest tree in the state, the co-champion Bald Cypress tree.
This ancient wonder was already well established and probably known by the first Americans long before the first Spaniards’ feet stepped off a Gallion.
Standing at 85 feet, the tree is certainly tall but it is not it’s height that makes it the co-champion. The tree has a circumference of 557 inches (over 46 feet). The tree like all trees lives by its outermost layers, leaving a breathtaking inner chamber that can be viewed by the more svelte of the champions visitors.
The current co-champions, succeeded their predecessor another Bald Cypress nicknamed the “Senator” as the largest trees in Florida. Outside of the giant Sequoias in California it is one of the largest trees in North America.
Bald Cypress trees have structures called knees that are thought to assist in providing support and stability. The knees of the co-champion are very large, very numerous and add a mystic appeal to the terrain.
A visit to the co-champion is very well rewarded. There is something so aweinspiring about standing next to and touching this ancient wonder. To me I feel calmness, empathy and a patient sense of the natural world when in the trees presence.
There are two ways to visit the co-champion. One way is to walk to the trail head from the Holton Creek River Camp when you are staying as an overnight paddler or through hiker on the Florida trail. The other method is to drive to the co-champion trail head and park next to the gate for the Holton Creek River Camp. This is part of the Suwannee River Water Management District and no overnight parking is allowed so please plan your visit accordingly and allow enough time to be able to drive out before dark. It is four miles down a pretty rough sand/dirt road to get to see the co-champion but you will find it well worth the experience.