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, April 14, 2019

Visiting With Friends at Florida's Wekiwa Springs State Park

Spent a few fun days with some friends at this great park in Apopka. This is a family oriented park with 60 campsites for tents and RVs in two paved loops with a nice clean bath house in each.  There is also a primitive camp site with 3 tent areas, a youth camp with tent area, dining hall, and rec hall. The day area surrounding the spring head has pavilions, grills, picnic tables, and a playground. If you have to be entertained, Disney World is only 45 minutes away.

Our site, #45, is in Loop 2 (sites 31-60). It is a level, dirt/sand site with shade most of the day and side privacy by shrubs and space. This site is one of 7 in this loop with sewage.  The remaining sites do not have sewage. Like all sites in this loop it has 30/20 amp electric and water.

Our backyard

Our site host. Squirrels....they're everywhere.  Got food?

Views of Loop 2. Easily navigable paved road.  There are no pull through sites at this park. Loop 1, (sites 1-30) looks similar, but all sites have 50/30/20 amp and sewage.

Our group circles up deciding which road to take. To the left is the spring head and day area, to the right is Sand Lake. There are many miles of paved road, loops included, for biking.  There are elevation changes on these roads, so be prepared for a work out. What goes downhill, must come back uphill. Or, one can bike on the dirt trails as marked for shared use. 

The decision was the spring head. The official water temperature testers at work. Notice the white chair on the left.  There for easy access to the spring for handicapped. The park is great for accessibility.

The water is crystal clear and around 70 degrees all year. In the background is a grass area for putting out the blanket and enjoying the surroundings.

To reach the spring you can walk down the grassy area or the stairs at the grill and store patio.

A group preparing to hit the river.

The spring's water flows out of the Florida aquifer. Although not turbulent in appearance, approximately 42 million gallons of water is provided to the Wekiwa River each day.

The current nature center. The center was once much larger and occupied what is now a grill with patio adjacent to the store. Some of the exhibits survived the move. A ranger gives lectures at scheduled times and there is a continuous video featuring the area.  Back in the day, on a slow day, one could feed the gator small mice, play with the tortoises on the floor and have the fish in the tank follow your finger along the glass. But, this is still interesting and informative of the area.

A white heron has spotted a meal at the spring's edge.

 A small raccoon is begging for a meal along the swimming area walkway.

Cross the footbridge over the spring and enter the .75 mile wet to dry trail.

Root system of a fallen oak. The person is 6', the root system edge is 2-3' below the boardwalk, and the upper edge is 4-5' above his head.  Big root system.  Big tree. Never saw the top as it was covered by the dense growth.

Walking along the wet section searching for wildlife and swamp flora.

Dense undergrowth along the boardwalk.


 Transisting to the dry part of the trail. Still sort of tropical vs. hardwood 

A broad-headed skink lying still along the wet trail. Not exactly wild life, but then, no danger.


Another "dangerous" species.

Some of the flora in the wet area of the trail:


 Heading up hill toward the spring head on the dry part of the trail.
This part of the trail is through the hardwoods.

At the top. You can turn off here and return to the spring or go forward to the East-West Crossover and Sand Lake.  There are 13.5 miles of hiking trails, 8.5 miles of equestrian trails and 7.8 miles of biking trails (not including the paved roads).

Some views of the general trails. They range from wide to narrow, elevation changes, smooth sand surface, or rough rooted surface.  Some have benches along the way. Others are long stretches with no benches.  Take water.



Some even have catwalks through marshy areas. 

  On the way to Sand Lake via the hard top these two does were noshing in the meadow not far from the campground.

Sand Lake. Once it was a barrow pit for the Wilson Cypress Co. They harvested large amounts of Cypress and hardwood in the area. They utilized a rail system and the St. John's and Wekiva Rivers for transportation. Now it is a good fishing hole in the park.One can fish from the shore only.

A trail circumvents the lake. Mostly it is wide and hard packed sand.

Along the trail there are areas with benches, picnic tables and grills. Cook those fish you caught.


 Another rest area. Sit and enjoy the lake.

Part of the trail is a short bridge over a marshy area and as you can see there are roots to navigate.
Along the trail are sign posts pointing out things of interest. In this case up on the mound are the remains of the foundation of a large shallow well pump system used by the Wilson Cypress Co.

Four cut off vertical pipes straddle the mound.  Careful walking around. The fourth pipe is hidden.  Don't ask me how I know.

About that post in front of the mound. The trail around the lake is part of The GS Gold Self-Guided trail. Along the trail (4.21 mi) taking you through different habitat communities are 14 posts designating a Point of Interest (POI). Each POI has a numbered post with a QR code that can be scanned to display a brief explanation of the site. Very interesting project of one girl scout for her Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouts. A lot of research and technology use was involved by this young lady.  Makes your hiking the trail most interesting and informative.  Would like to see more of this in Florida State Parks. A guide to this trail and the markers is available at the kiosk in the Sand Lake parking lot.

While we didn't see any rangers are very adamant about black bears in this park. Take heed on the trails.


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