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in 1990, soon after this area of forest was set aside as a preserve, part of the original pioneers trail through the forest was preserved. Parts of this trail are still paved with the old style cobblestones that were once common for sidewalks and streets in the region.
Much of the forest surrounding the trail are trees that were planted in 1990, in an effort to replant this small area with native trees. Originally, the idea was to experiment with the wood from the trees as a commercial product. However, in the end commercial harvesting of these trees never happened, nor could it very well due to the very small size of the forest here.
However, the area became popular with the local wildlife, and the state park became a small preserve of the original forest ecosystem of the region.
The trail is only a few hundred meters in length, and takes approximately 7 ot 10 minutes to walk. There are a few places where there are short staircases. There are one or two steep sections, but they are very short, and there is really no net elevation gain or loss over the length of the trail.
At the end of the trail, there is the park's picnic shelter, and at this point this is the start of two other trails in the park: Tilha dos Catetos and Trilha das Perobas. The Catetos trail is through more of the second growth restored forest, while the Perobas trail is through an area of original forest with old growth trees.
Even though this trail is quite close to the visitor's center on one end and the picnic shelter on the other end, have your eyes open for the wildlife that hides in the forest. This is especially true of the bird life here, which may appear just about anywhere and is usually very colorful when it does appear.
Updated Jan 3, 2012
After walking on Trilha do Projeto Madeira approximately 10 minutes after exiting the visitor's center, one comes to the picnic shelter. This shelter is where some outdoor education classes do some of their work and gathering. Restrooms are on the far side of the shelter from where the trail enters the shelter area.
The shelter also has a small brick plaza, and in this plaza there are the two main trail divisions. The one that continues straight from the one from the visitors center is the Tilha dos Catetos, which is a trail that visitors may walk on their own. It goes through the second growth forest to the corn field on the other side of the forest.
The other trail is the Tilha das Perobas and must be traversed with the accompaniment of a volunteer guide, as they have had many troubles with people wandering through the woods into places that damage the forest.
If it is quiet at the picnic shelter, I would suggest spending a little time here, just to see what birds and wildlife stop by to explore the area when there isn't any people noise to scare them away.
Updated Jul 19, 2011
While it isn't very large, the visitor's center is a fairly important place to visit first upon entering the state park. Here, you can find out about the latest wildlife sightings. Here they also have some samples (not living!) of some of the wildlife and tree species found here.
A close up look at the wood from the various trees will help you see up close the value that is in Brazilian wood, and understand the very unfortunate loss of huge value when so many of them were cut down for disposable uses. People are asked to not touch the wood samples, but if you ask nicely and handle them with care they will probably allow you to also feel the texture of the wood.
There are also two restrooms, and an indoor auditorium for classrooms and other special presentations.
Visitor's center volunteers are typically available here to help answer questions about the preserve.
The visitor's center is also the entrance to the trails in the forest. Literally, the rest of the trails wander out the back door of the visitor's center. The start of your exploration here is the Tilha do Projeto Madeira, which leads to the other trails. Thus, it is pretty much required that you visit the visitor's center before going further into the park.
It is highly desired by the volunteers and staff of the state park that each group of visitors fill out a form telling them a bit about the visitors, where they are from, and various other information. I don't suggest that this be filled out completely as there is some information here that may be deemed private to certain individuals (Brazilians have a different perception of privacy for the most part). However, it is at least good for them to get a general idea of who visited and why.
Updated Jul 19, 2011
Yes, believe it or not, wild flowers can bloom just fine in the forest. However, taking photos of them may be a bit of a challenge because their colors never seem to show up very will compared to seeing them in person.
Bird life is a little more elusive, and seeing anything beyond birds will mean being very lucky - or unlucky as the case may be. The birds tend to be more active during the morning, and the earlier you are able to get a good start the better the chance of seeing some bird life. If this is not possible, later in the day is better as towards evening birds also tend to be active. However, keep in mind the park closes at 5. I am not familiar enough with the local bird life to be able to tell you everything that is here. However, there is a nice book that the volunteers in the visitor's center have put together in order to illustrate the various birds and give you their names. It is best to bring some really good telephoto equipment and have fast reflexes, as the birds don't get too close to people for very long. Many times the only thing you will get is a bird call without getting a very good look at the bird. This is, after all, fairly dense forest with some very tall trees in it. Therefore, you may wish to brush up on your southern Brazilian bird calls. You will be amazed at how well brightly colored birds can fade into the tree canopy.
Some of the snakes here are dangerous, and there are signs in the visitor's center alerting you of the types of snake that are dangerous. However, thankfully the snakes tend to stay away from people and therefore away from the trails.
Big cats such as puma live in the forest here as well, but the forest isn't large enough to support a very large population of them. Plus, for the most part they are nocturnal. Thus, seeing them requires a bit of good fortune. These are also documented in the visitor's center.
As for the wild flowers that bloom here even in the winter, I can only tell you to keep your eyes out, get some photographs, and maybe someone at the visitor's center will be able to identify them - or maybe you will be able to find them in a book.
Updated Jul 18, 2011
The Perobas Trail is definitely the trail on which you should take a short trip, as it passes through the preserved old growth forest part of the state park. However, it should also be noted that you can not walk this trail without a park guide with you, because there have been too many problems with people wandering off the trail and damaging the fragile ecosystem that lives beneath the trees.
The trail is mostly a loop, and much of it starts off going down hill - and remember that what goes down hill must come back up. Conserve your energy for the climb. However, the trail is not very long - perhaps 1/2 to 3/4 of an hour. The length depends on how often you stop to look at interesting things.
Many of the trees along the trail are marked. There are very few invasive species in this part of the park, with a huge portion of the trees being old growth.
While the trees themselves may not be huge compared to some of the soft wood giants that people may have seen in various places, keep in mind that these hard woods are much slower growing than those! Take a look upward at some of these trees, and you will see just how huge they are. Furthermore, unlike the softwoods, these have vast root systems that can support the tree even in very strong winds. Even 30 meters (some 100 feet) from the base of the tree it is possible to encounter roots of huge size.
If you can speak Portuguese, be sure to ask your guide lots of questions. The one that accompanied me was very good at explaining the forest and the different trees and plants there.
Written Jul 18, 2011
This is a self-guided walk through mostly second growth forest. There are one or two small trail junctions that are very well marked. I would leave approximately an hour to walk the trail. Most people would probably require less time than this, but if your goal is to see and watch wildlife, you are going to want to take your time, walk softly, and be quiet so that the wildlife is not scared to show itself.
The trail makes two curves, and then is pretty much a straight shot through the forest. It ends at a corn field that is a hot, bright spot that is a stark contrast from the Paraná of yesterday to the Paraná of today.
Even though this part of the forest is second growth, with most of the trees about 20 years old, there is still quite a lot of wildlife that goes through this part of the forest. There are many, many different types of birds that visit the park, and despite the lack of true old growth many of those visit the forest along this trail. There are also a number of wild flowers.
The trail is fairly wide - over a meter (3 feet) in most places, and fairly free of obstacles.
Written Jul 18, 2011
Mata dos Godoy state park has a small ampitheatre on the edge of the forest. It is approximately 100 meters (300 feet) from the visitor's center. It is truly an outdoor facility with no roof on it, and some plank benches for seating.
Programs presented there are on an irregular basis, and check the web site for the park (see the introduction page for the various web pages and twitter feed web pages) for possible programs. However, my impression is that this is primarily used for visiting school groups.
Written Jul 14, 2011