Visiting Florida's state parks and beyond in our Roadtrek. This is how we saw it all. Hopefully, the posts will give you some useful information. Questions and comments are welcome.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Weekend At Florida's O'Leno State Park

Nice Park.  The big attraction for us is the river that disappears underground only to reappear 3 miles downstream at River Rise State Park.

Our site, #23, in the Magnolia Loop was very level, packed sand with very good privacy.  The roads leading into the loop are packed limestone. Most sites are fully shaded, some partially shaded.  It rained most of the weekend, but there were enough periods of sunshine to allow us to use the trails.

The Santa Fe river. Early morning mist.  Very still and quiet.

  Love to visit Florida state parks with rivers.  That means there is a bridge.  And, most are suspension bridges.

This is the beginning or the end of the river trail.  We chose to start the trail by crossing the bridge.  You can go to the right here and do the trail in reverse.  A ranger said that is the best direction as it gives you more perspective on current flow changes.  We took that route the next day.  Consensus is it makes no difference for a great hike.

And boardwalks.  Florida state parks often have boardwalks through the wetlands. Always well constructed and make great viewing of the wetlands possible.

Along the river trail.  The trails here are well marked and maintained for pleasurable hiking.

Numerous sink holes line the river trail.  Some dry, but most have water in them.  One is so large it is a named lake.  Odgen Lake.

Along this section of the trail you can notice a distinct flow of the river at this point.  The current is not as obvious at the marina or the sink hole areas.

We met a Golden Silk spider repairing its web at one of the river trail outlooks.

The Santa Fe sink.  The main reason we came to this park.  The gathering of algae marks where the river disappears underground falling into a sink hole at the rate of 900,000 gallons per day.  One would expect to see a swirling eddy and no algae or debris as the water descends.  Amazingly the calm eddy can barely be seen from the river's edge.  The river reemerges 3 miles downstream at the River Rise State Park in the form of a circular pool.  It then continues its journey 35 miles to the Suwanee River.

Further along the trail stands a man-made bat cave.  Erected by the rangers to attract bats for insect control we were told it was inhabited in less than two hours of completion.

The river trail loops around the sink and back to the picnic area at entrance to the bridge.  In this area are several community use buildings.  They include this lodge with a huge open area, kitchen, two large fireplaces, benches & tables and a stage with sound system. There are screened and opened pavilions, picnic tables, a small amphitheatre area, playground area and a launch area for kayaks and canoe. 

A statue honoring the CCC worker that created this state park. 

The Civilian Conservation Corp museum.  This park is one of eight parks built in Florida by the CCC.  The museum contains photos, information and items of interest from the camp at O'Leno.

Also, there is a small park museum.  Inside are displays of various indigenous reptiles, mammals, birds and insects along with the history of the park and surrounding area.  A volunteer is on hand to answer questions and dispense information. Ranger guided park tours are available.

There are nice cabins available for those wanting to overnight at the park in something other than a tent or rv.

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