This section of Tuckers grade is only open to vehicles in hunting season. It is suitable for all vehicles but, the gate at Route 31 end is ALWAYS closed and locked so you will need to backtrack to exit. It is about 7 miles from the intersection with Seaboard Grade in the recreational area to the Route 31 Gate. Like the other grades, the road is very straight. When you first enter, you will travel through the usual pine flatwoods. The trees have been left deliberately close to maintain the grade so you start with the view of a long, straight boulevard.
This view continues for several miles broken by the occasional pond. Just beyond the trees there is normally an open flatwood environment. You will see that some of the trees are marked as Red Cockaded Woodpecker nesting spots.
The first part of the trip doesn’t have any real surprises compared to the public recreation area. Since it is a wild area, the wildlife knows less of man and is somewhat more shy than in the recreation zone. But, keep on the road, stop at the ponds and wait for a bit and the wildlife will emerge again. Along the way you will pass the beginning of Road 10 which has been improved over the last year or two. It is now a good road from Tucker Grade to Powerline grade. This is the entrance at Tucker Grade.
But, the best of this section is at the end near Highway 31. As you get to the last two miles of this section you will notice the trees thinning and the light getting brighter ahead. Then past the last few trees and you see the open expanse of a lake.
This was taken with the 10.5mm fisheye so the expanse is slightly exaggerated. Tucker Grade is the road running along the right side. This is an intersection with a much rougher road, suitable for trucks or SUVs that goes to the left. It is better walked than driven. There are not many spaces to turn around and reversing on a narrow grade can be harrowing.
I don’t know the name of this lake. I don’t even know if it has one but for lack of a better name I refer to it as Snag Lake because of the number of dead trees. Here are a few views from along the grade.
You can see from this one why I call it snag lake. The picture was taken on a hot afternoon but in the morning, those snags are perches for Eagles, Osprey, and all the other fishing birds of the area. Storks, egrets and herons are plentiful and I have seen several bittern in the reeds.
A little further along, you will find a final pond just a few hundred yards from Route 31 which is also good for egrets and herons. The end of this section though is just across from the main entrance to Babcock Ranch.
While this area is normally closed to vehicular traffic, it is well worth the drive when open. Even when closed, you can park and climb the gate and walk to Snag Lake. Just be sure not to block the gate. While it is kept locked, it does provide access to the eastern parts of the WMA and can see heavy use by FPL trucks getting to Powerline Grade and the heavy equipment used to to maintain the grades in the area.