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.

Friday, September 29, 2017

After Irma at Florida's Lake Kissimmee State Park

Fifteen miles east of Lake Wales, this park encompases 6000 acres of land with 12 distinct natural communities in three habitats.  There are 4 trails, 6.7 mi, 6 mi, 2.8 mi and a quarter mile nature trail near the day use area and playground. The 6.7 mile trail is for hiking and equestrian use.

Hurricane Irma passed through the park on September 10 with devastating results. The park was closed for two weeks while waters receded and the campsites and trails were cleared of debris. Staff, volunteers, friends of the park, contractors, and rangers from Virginia State Parks did a remarkable job of rehabbing this park in order to re-open to camping by September 21. Work is ongoing but at a rapid pace.

There are 60 sites for RVs or tents in two loops. All have water and 30/20 amp electric service. And, thanks to newly laid limestone at the sites they are level.  Each loop has a clean, well maintained bath house. 

All the main roads are paved. The sites are all at least partly shaded (even after the hurricane) and have ample space and/or shrubbery between for privacy.


I have to say the campground, day use area, and Cow Camp have pretty clear signage.

The main reason for my visit was to see the observation tower that is adjacent to the day use area.


Standing 35 feet tall it overlooks Lake Kissimmee and its marsh lands.  Because this park is away from civilization and very little light polution the tower provides pretty awsome views of the heavens.


View from the top. Far off is Lake Kissimmee. On the left is part of Gobbler Ridge Trail. It is a trail through the marsh area with a connector to the North Loop Trail through the Uplands. The trail is pretty wet due to the hurricane. Hasn't drained, yet.

Giant campfire near the tower. Actually, the rangers cleared off a couple of acres to pile and burn the broken trees and other hurricane debris as clean-up progresses.

The day use area is huge, well laid out and with plenty of parking.  There are several large and small covered pavilions and several individual picnic benches/tables with grills and a clean rest room house.

There is a playground....

...and a lot of paved walkways and running room to burn off those hot dogs and hamburgers.

 Down a trail from this area is a youth camp. Plenty of space for tents, benches around two campfire pits for those after dinner stories, and since this is not the primitive campsite, a bath house. Gotta have some luxury when tenting.  There are two primitive campsites for backpackers. One along each of the two long trails.

It was at a small pavilion I ran upon a "herd" of deer. Well, 5 to be exact. Three adults and two fawns. The fawn on the right was most curious and at one point took about a dozen steps towards me, then stopped and stared.  Momma never seemed worried. Just a picture-taking camper.

Nearby is a campstore, boat ramp and marina. This is on the Zipperer Canal that joins Lake Kissimmee and Lake Rosalie. Good fishing in the canal and the lakes.

One can rent kayaks or canoes or bring your own. 

A wooden fisherman and his dog at the marina.
Saw very few birds this visit.

Lost in the debris is a smiley face bobber. Lost, but still smiling.

All the trail heads are at or near the parking lots for the marina and day use area.  This one is for the North Loop Trail.

Most of the trails are easy hiking. Wide paths, no elevation changes, sometimes open, sometimes shady.

Nice scenery and good signage.

Some trails have little bridges.  Another fisherman and his pets. There are several wooden caricatures throughout the trails.

Tree art of the blog. Just stood out amongst the green.

Water on the trail. Was headed to one of the two primitive campsites, but it'll have to wait til next time.

Near the marina there is a bridge over the canal to Buster Island. To one side is a dam to control flow from Lake Rosalie to Lake Kissimmee in case of severe storms. The environmental floating dams are protection against polution while a new bridge is being built.

The view west toward Lake Rosalie. Marsh land on either side.


Coming off the bridge onto Buster Island. To the right is the 6.7 mile hiking and equestrian trail. Not too far along, the trail was pretty much closed due to water. Between marker 19 and 20 is a primitive campsite. To the left is the Cow Camp.

Cow Camp entrance. It was closed, the trail was partially underwater and the rains came. Another day. Cow Camp is a living history site that depicts an 1876 cattle camp. Normally it is open weekends from October to May.
When it is open there is a person dressed for the times that gives a great lecture and demonstration of life in a Florida cow camp, circa 1800s

Nice wide trail with information signage.

Small pond along the quarter mile loop Pond Nature Trail.
Some trees snapped, some uprooted.  Irma was a strong storm.

Benches along the trail hewn from tree trunks.

Land serpent? Just a fallen branch.