Every now and then, I get the urge to get back to the basics. When life gets a little too complicated, I seek out the quiet in yon fields and forests graced in summer’s glorious hues of gold and green.
If I am truly fortunate, I will find amid the cooler shades of evergreen, a river carving its way through the landscape in perpetuity. I have found such a place at O’leno State Park.
O’leno is a 6,000 acre park located on the Santa Fe River in High Springs, Florida. From fishing, kayaking, hiking, biking, and equestrian trails to camp sites for both the family and equestrian owner, O’leno has it all. With so many things to do at O’leno, my choices were endless but as with most things – decisions must eventually be made.
Fortunately for me, the decision was easy – Santa Fe, here I come.
On my way, I stopped by the full service RV/camping area to visit my daughter and son in law who were spending the weekend in shady comfort. Yes – a bad day of camping is always better than a good day at work.
Together with their toddler’s in tow, we made our way across the swinging bridge and down to the river bank where the river purled over lime rock to eddy around logs and low hanging branches.
Tyler’s bait of choice for the day was live crickets. Together with a couple of youth sized rods/reels we were set for a little bream action. As you will recall in an earlier publication wherein I had showcased my eldest grandson’s first fishing trip, you can surmise that this little trip was not his first rodeo. It was however, still a fascinating process for his younger siblings who were just beginning to understand the concept.
After the morning fishing trip, we all adjourned back to camp for a bite to eat but it wasn’t long before the family trekked back to the river’s edge to see what else the Santa Fe had to offer. By the end of the day, Tyler and his boy’s brought in several nice sized bream.
I congratulated their prowess but not before marking the locations of such bounty in my “mental map” for later exploration. This granny will definitely return to see what jewels the Santa Fe has to offer her.
While visiting O’leno Park, I stopped at the visitor center to gather some information about its history and to see what else the park had to offer.
Here is what you can experience while at O’leno Park:
- Nicely equipped RV camp sites with bathrooms, showers and water hookup
- Equestrian camping with bathrooms, showers, and a 20 horse stall barn
- 20 miles of equestrian trails along and around the Santa Fe River
- Primitive camping
- Several miles of Hiking/Biking/Nature trails
- Covered pavilions
- Play area and restrooms at the main parking facility
- Information Center: containing the history and artifacts of the area.
- Group / Family sized cabins
A few rules:
- Pets are allowed but can not be left unattended in the camp areas
- Pets are not allowed in primitive camping, swimming area, or in the water
- Equestrian trails are located 2 miles away from the main park. Coggins tests must first be presented at the main entrance before access (via a gate code) to the horse trails and camping facility (River Rise Park) will be given.
- Pick up after yourself. Leave the park nice for future visitors
- Take only pictures leave only footprints.
Where to eat:
If you are getting a little tired of camp food, there are several nice restaurants in the High Springs area. Here are a few that I have visited and enjoy.
- The Great Outdoors Restaurant:com
- The Diner: 615 NW Santa Fe Blvd, High Springs – 386-454-5775
- The Station Bakery and Café: 210 Santa Fe Blvd, High Springs – 386-454-4943
If you need to fill up your pantry prior to camping at the park, Winn Dixie is the place to go. It is located only a few miles south of the park’s main entrance.
Other Places to Stay:
Grady House Historic Bed and Breakfast: For those who want to visit the park but not camp.
420 NW 1st avenue, High Springs, Florida 386-454-2206
I hope you enjoyed this article. If you would like to peruse other articles I have written about the great outdoors, check out the archives. If you are interested in looking for places to go that cater to the outdoorsman, then HuntFishTravel.net is the place to be for some great ideas.
Until next time – Tight Lines!