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.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

A Week at Florida's Santos Campground


A nice small campground just south of Ocala.  If you are a hiker or especially a mountain biker this is a place for you.  But, this is also a nice park to just sit and relax if that's what you do.  The camp loop is paved for easy walking and biking exercise or adjacent is a Bronze Level mountain bike trail park.


There are only 24 sites available for RVs and tents.  All are pretty level, gravel sites with partial shade on the west side of the loop and no shade on the east side.  All have 50/30/20 electric and water.  There is good space between the sites and a few with a lot of space.  


There are pavilions, picnic tables and clean restroom/showers. 


East of the rv sites is an open field for scout or group camping with plenty of space and a few picnic tables.

And, in addition, there is an equestrian area with a small stable, water trough, hitches, trailer parking and the trailhead for a long horse trail.

Adjacent to the campground is the Santos Trailhead.  There is a separate entrance to this area as there is no entrance fee.  State run, but very well maintained by volunteers of the Ocala Mountain Bike Assoc.  It is a free park built for mountain bike trail riding.  At the parking lot are restroom/showers, picnic tables pavilions, water and even a rack provided with spanners, wrenches and a tire pump. Biking events are held here throughout the year.


There is one hiking trail.  It is not a loop and is about 4.7 miles in length. Plan on returning as far as you go down the trail.  The trail connects to the Land Bridge Trail that crosses over I-75.

Hiking along the trail is easy. There are a few slight elevation changes, and roots and rocks to navigate.  I imagine in the other seasons this hike is very pretty.  Right now it is kind of drab, but still enjoying sceneryThe week was cold, sunny and dry with slight breezes, so it is a great hike.


 A couple of trees had fallen on the trail. Sections are cut and moved for convenience.  Nothing is removed from the woods.

Some things seen along the way:

Still red.  A fallen Sweetgum leaf.

Still green.  Fallen pine needle cluster with cones.

A Sweetgum seed pod hiding in a rotted branch cut.

An old sign posted for a Federal project. See the top of the sign?  Don't know what the project might have been, but in the area of the tree is remains of a barbed wire fence and stone wall. 

And, then there are the bike trails. Fat tire only. Three levels of skill.  Yellow is the easiest (notice I didn't say easy, but easiest), Blue is more difficult, and Red is most difficult.

Before you enter the Yellow Trail from the parking lot there are two areas to practice your skills or warm up.  Even the Skye Park has levels of skill.  See where you fit before going out on the trails.

And the Pump Track.  The object here is to complete the course without pedaling.  All body English and momentum.

A series of dirt jumps and high speed, banked turns.

On the Yellow Trail - Pine Tree

Pretty easy going.  Almost like the hiking trail.  Easy flowing trail with slight elevations, curves, roots, rocks to deal with in some areas.

One of the Blue Trails - Cow Bone


A tighter course with narrow paths, rocks, roots and elevation changes. 

Tight and sweeping curves in close quarters and open spaces. 

The Red Trail - Sinkhole.

Ol' Murray ready to tackle the Sinkhole, a Red trail carved out of an old limestone quarry.  Wore inexperienced me out. 

Lot of uphill/downhill, sharp curves on loose and stable rock and roots to add to the challenge.   Maybe I should stick to the Yellow and Blue Trail.  They flow better.

The photos don't really show the steepness.  It's about a 15' rise with loose rocks and midway big boulders, then a sharp turn to the right.  Must keep momentum going.

More rocks at the top.

Narrow passage.  The handlebars barely made it through the trees.

Entrance to The Vortex.

Typical elevation changes along the trails.  This is about 12-15' high.  Trails are mostly narrow with many turns.  Dirt jumps. Exciting.

 Not only are there natural obstacles, but there are a lot of awesome manmade obstacles at the Vortex.  Bridges, narrow rails, etc.

Found someone's video on YouTube that's pretty representative of the trails and manmade obstacles in the Vortex.  Over my head on some of the trails.  But, fun to watch.

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