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.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Return to Florida's Colt Creek State Park


When we last visited Colt Creek we were looking for the start of their campground.  This is a beautifully maintained state park near Lakeland, which up until last year was strictly day use, or tent or equestrian camping..no campground for RVs.  There is now an outstanding 33 site campground and rumors it will get bigger with a second loop of 30 or so sites in the future.

Our site is #11. Like all the sites it has 50/30/20 amp service and water.  There are 4 pull through sites, 6 tent only sites and 23 back in sites.  All are pretty good size, pea gravel, level and laid out for privacy. There are shrubbery barriers and the sites are well defined. There is no sewer, but the loop has a two lane dump station. There is little shade through-out the campground.

A Gulf Fritillary flits around the foliage between sites in the campground.

The loop road is paved and pretty wide. The turns are good for big rigs. The parking area on the left is for the six tent only sites.

A view of the loop with sites on the right and the very clean bathhouse/laundry. 

Two of the six tent only sights.

Designers of the campground made good use of the large limestone rocks unearthed during construction. There are several formations throughout the sites.

Mac Lake. The largest of the three lakes. Fishing is good here and it is big enough to enjoy canoeing/kayaking.  No power boating. 

One can fish from the shore or this t-shape pier. On shore there are one large pavilion, two small pavilions and a small gazebo. The park holds many events throughout the month and the pavilions can be reserved. The large pavilion is screened, has cooking facilities, rest rooms, etc.

A quarter mile nature trail is an interesting easy hike through the flatwoods near the pavilions.

A cormorant sits on a post at the pier. Most of the their time is spent in the lake diving for a meal.

The park is big on horse back riding and has a day use corral, with parking area, restrooms and a pavilion with grill. There is a 10 mile trail and a 7 mile trail for equestrian, bike and hike use.   There are two small lakes for fishing and this area is the trailhead for the 10 mile trail. There is also a primitive equestrian campground at the trailhead of the 7 mile trail south of the rv campground.

Dubious view of Middle Lake. 

In other words: Don't Feed The Alligators. 

There is a small butterfly garden near the equestrian corral.

Main Park Drive is a wide paved road leading to the campground and then on to the primitive equestrian and primitive campgrounds. Almost three miles long it is a great biking road.

Just outside the entrance to the campground Colt Creek passes under the road.  This is usually a great place to see alligators, tortoises, and a wide variety of birds. But, we didn't see much this visit.


A group of Ibis scours the creek floor for food.

While another group searches in a nearby lea.


The Flatwoods Trail (10 mile long loop) crosses the road just before the campground.

Colt Creek near the group camping area south of the campground.

Some of the flora in the park.


Friday, October 25, 2019

A Visit at Victoria Campground, Georgia

We stayed a few days at this Corp of Engineers campground on Lake Allatoona near Woodstock, Georgia. What a beautiful campground. We found the staff friendly and helpful. The campground has 72 sites for rv and tenting.  There are pull-throughs and back-ins. We didn't see a bad site among them.  All are under at least partial shade, most full shade. The sites are arranged for great privacy, easy in and out, paved, and level. Some sites are "water front", most not. The bathhouses are clean and well maintained with a small laundry. The campground was very quiet even though full.

 Because we reserved at the last minute we had to split our stay between two sites. The first was #55, a pull-through "on the water". It is paved, level, shaded, has a nice patio with fire pit, picnic table, and corralled. Like all the sites it has 50/30/20 amp service, and water.

 This is the view from the patio looking through the trees to the lake. The site has a lot of space.

The second site was a back-in. Paved, level, shaded and private with a patio. No view of the lake, but still a great site.

 There are two loops which provide for plenty of safe biking and walking.  This is  good since there are no trails in this park.  Gotta get that exercise. The park's features are boating, swimming, and fishing.

 Some views of the loop: 

Speaking of that lake view from Site #55.  Due to drought and draining of the lake to supply water to counties south of Atlanta the lake was well drawn down. You can see how much by the private docks on the left and their relation to the lake.

The draw down is apparent at the marina....

 ...and the beach area.

 At the marina/day park there is a playground and picnic tables and grills. 

An island in the channel.  The water is normally touching the trees. Someday it will be full again. I learned to water ski here 66 years ago. Hardly this low back then. df

 We didn't see much wildlife except for deer. Not only at the marina, but in the front yards of private homes while going through a nearby populated area. 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

A Wet Visit to Florida's Myakka River State Park

We returned to this beautiful park which is about 22 miles east of Sarasota after a long absence.  It is a very well kept park with a lot of things to see and do, although this week we were limited due to recent rains and subsequent flooding of the hiking trails.  There are three rv/tent campgrounds, three youth/group primitive camping areas, several day visitor areas, and more.

We always settle into site #77 in the Palmetto Ridge loop.  It has the best side privacy and space between sites. There are only two sites with partial shade (77& 78). The sites in this loop are level gravel, have an "ell" off the main site for the fire ring, grill, picnic table and sitting area.  There are two well kept bath houses. Really nice loop.
The Palmetto Ridge site has 6 pull-through sites, 30 back in sites, and 2 pull-in sites. All these sites have 50/30/20 amp service, water and sewage. The loop road is paved and big rig friendly.

The other two loops, Old Prairie and Big Flat are older campgrounds and not as big rig friendly.  They are both completely shaded, with dirt/sand loop road and sites.  The sites boundaries are defined with a corral fence. The bath houses are dated, but clean.  We see mostly tents, Class B and Class C units here. The sites in these two campgrounds have 30/20 amp and water. 

 There are 6 rustic cabins on a separate loop.  The cabins are raised, but due to recent heavy rains getting to them was a bit wet.  Built in the 1930s by the men of the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) of cabbage palm trunks and chinked with tar and sawdust, they have been updated over the years to include a bath with shower, full electric kitchen and a small ac/heat unit.  Bring some wood, there's a fireplace inside.

This community building is another CCC original building.  It can be used by groups for events of various sorts.

In the center is an eclosed gathering room with fireplace...

....and on each side is an open area with benches and tables. Behind the building is an open area for grilling and activities.

Adjacent to the Community Hall are picnic areas with grills, tables, activity fields and close by an small amphitheater where rangers hold interactive nature events.

Near the ranger station is a visitor/nature center that has a theater with several videos detailing the park and area history and interesting area factoids.

There are several displays of the wildlife in the park. Some are interactive so you can hear the sounds of the wildlife.  Also there is a small aquarium containing the river inhabitants.

 There is a ghostly help desk person to answer questions about the park and its inhabitants.  OK, there is a plethora of informative printed matter next to the desk just in case...... One of them  is titled "25 Things To Do".  Pick that one up .  There is plenty to do in Myakka, rain or shine.
One of the biggest attractions of this park is the Canopy Walk.  Unfortunately, this week getting to it and the adjacent nature trail was a bit wet.  That's about a foot of water on the trail.

If you wade the trail to the Canopy Walk you would see this "bridge" 25 feet in the air.  A neat way to see vegetation and birds at another level.

Attached to the bridge is a 74 foot tower allowing you to climb above the canopy of trees and view the park with a "birds eye" view.

The rains have enlarged the swamp along Park Rd. Water is right up to the asphalt for most of the drive to the north gate or the cafe and day park on Upper Myakka Lake.

Myakka River at the Park Road bridge looking South. Very swollen with rain water. Usually fishermen net casting can be seen.  Too deep.  There is a nice nature trail that parallels the river for a mile or so. It's not a loop trail.

Looking North some of the small islands where birds wade in search of a meal are under water. The native gators have an expanded dinner table.  Kayaking  under the bridge now requires one to be an expert in the art of Limbo. Any more rain and it will be impassable.  And we had much more rain before we left the park. 

The Myakka Trail includes 38.9 miles of loop trails plus there are several spur trails. For backpackers there are 6 primitive campgrounds along the trail.  In addition, the horse trail and many backcountry roads are open to hikers. Most are wet hikes right now. These trails are limited to foot traffic. Bikers have 7 miles of paved road (Park Road and North Drive) Equestrians have about 15.7 miles of trails.


More roadside water. Fascinated with this water level this trip.


Hunting a meal in that water. 

  Small pink flower among the green and brown.

This little area off the main road is a popular stop by visitors to enjoy the river and wildlife.  When the river is a little lower.  We've seen kayakers pass by, people sitting reading a book, painting and napping.  A nice quiet place.

But this week only the wildlife roam the area.

An empty apple snail shell. Dinner?

Take the right fork, North Drive, at Big Flats campground to see another attraction, Bird Walk. A long boardwalk into Upper Myakka Lake.  Usually there are gators and water fowl galore.  Today the entrance is under water and no wildlife in sight.

Not a good day to get to the observation deck.

 The Myakka Outpost at the end of Park Road.  There is a day park here with benches and grills, a fishing deck and a general store of sorts across the street. In this building is the Pink Gator Cafe and a souvenir shop.  Pretty good food (including gator entree's) and typical souvenirs.

Here one can embark on a boat tour of the lake or hop a tram tour through the park. This boat is powered by two quiet Honda outboards. In the past there were two similar boats powered by an aircraft engine with huge props.  Billed as the world's largest air boats.  A much more fun ride with the very noisy engine and props. So much for progress. Now, it's just another quiet, but good, boat tour.

We often see deer at Myakka, but that has been on the trails or roadside.  This is the first time we've seen them in the campground.  Each day we saw two mature doe and two maturing fawns.  Maybe the high water levels have them seeking new feeding areas. They were not skittish if you moved slow.

For photos of the park in dryer days see my past blogs dated 07/2012 and 06/2014.