Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Located on a barrier island off the coast of the Florida panhandle Gulf Islands National Seashore is a lovely place to enjoy the gentle gulf breezes and unspoiled white sand beaches that this area is known for.
Historic Fort Pickens is located at the western end of the barrier island about a mile from the campground. There is a nice hiking/biking trail that is very nice to experience as their is plenty of nature to observe along the way.
The fort has a gift shop and there are ranger led tours through the grounds. The grounds are very interesting full of history and artifacts from an era long ago when this fort was used to fight battles. The view of the Navel Air base in Pensacola is spectacular from the top of the old forts walls. Twice a week the Blue Angels practice making for a spectacular show that can be seen from on top of the high walls of Fort Pickens.
Park staff housing with a view of the twin towers of the Navel air base in Pensacola
Pensacola Lighthouse viewed from across the bay at Fort Pickens
The campgrounds at Fort Pickens provide visitors with an opportunity to enjoy the park with the many hiking and biking trails that led to the beach and to the historic scenery of the old fort with all its amazing history. The Gulf breezes provide for a comfortable experience with highs in the low eighties when we were there in late May of 2021
Our campsite at Fort Pickens
Board walk over the dunes to the beach
We experienced The Full flower moon as it rose over the horizon on May 26, 2021
Labels: National Seashores
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Located on high bluffs overlooking the Apalachicola River make Torreya one of Florida's most scenic places.
Torreya was built by the CCC in the 1930's. The campground has some of the original structures that stood the test of time.
The bath houses at the campground and the main office building are all CCC structures
Shade is at a premium in the campground after Hurricane Michael winds
altered the forest canopy back in October of 2018.
Torreya has several hiking trails and is home to the historic Gregory House, a beautiful southern mansion built in 1849. The park staff gives visitors tours of the house. The grounds have a great view of the Apalachicola River. You can see the rare Torreya tree in the park is unique to this area and a few other areas world wide making for an interesting botanical feature. The park is named after this rare tree that grows only here on the bluffs surrounding the river valley.
The Torreya Tree with the Gregory House in the background
Interpretive sign explaining the rare Torreya Tree found in the park
The back of the historic Gregory mansion
The mansion was relocated by the CCC piece by piece from the west side of the Apalachicola River to the east side years ago in the 1930's.
The park was hit by hurricane Michael on October 18, 2018. Although the park had extensive tree damage the old Gregory mansion stood up to the vicious winds. The dedicated park staff has since restored the parks trails and forests bringing new life to the park.
Labels: Florida State Parks
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Located just south of Gainesville, FL this unique state park is highly diverse with an abundant variety of landscapes and wildlife. The best way to start your visit is by stopping by the visitors center with it's many displays and views of the prairie from the 50 foot high observation tower.
Wild horses roaming the prairie
Exhibits on display at the visitors center
Trail to the Observation Tower from the visitors center
The campground is located in a forested highland hammock with lots of shade and good separation from the other sites.
Lake Wauberg is a short hike away. There is a boat ramp to launch your watercraft and picnic shelters for day visitors. There are trails to hike or ride your bike making for a full range of activities to enjoy.
Ranger interpretive center for visitors
Sail boat on Lake Wauberg
Picnic shelter near Lake Wauberg
Fishing pier on Lake Wauberg
The Prairie was formed by a large sink hole that during wet periods floods the low lying areas creating a large lake. These cycles occur as the Florida aquifer fluctuates during extreme weather events. When the area is dry large herds of wild horses and buffalo can be seen wandering the prairie.
View of the prairie from the observation tower
The prairie is 50 miles in circumference
Buffalo exhibit at the visitors center
A variety of plant life and animal life can be seen on the parks several hiking trails
Long tailed exotic lizard
Hiking trail loop near the visitors center
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park is a great place for a day visit or to camp out. We were pleasantly surprised and plan to go back during our travels in the future.
is Florida's newest state park Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park The park was
purchased from the original owners to preserve this natural wonder that has attracted
campers and fresh water spring lovers for years.
Blue Springs Head Waters
Blue Springs stays at a constant 72 degrees year round. The waters of the spring flow
out the spring run a quarter mile to the Santa Fe river. The water is crystal clear and full of colorful plant and aquatic wildlife.
Kayak and Canoe rentals are available at the park. Paddlers can enjoy the waters of the Santa Fe river and the many springs that line it's shores. Ginnie Springs is located down river about a mile. Ginnie Springs is a privately owned campground with multiple small springs located on the property. It is known for its underwater spring cave diving and family atmosphere. A great place to escape the hot and humid summers in Florida.
During our visit we enjoyed our location close to the spring head making for easy access with our equipment. The park is upgrading it's campsites and facilities with future plans to improve the unpaved road that leads into the park.
kayak and canoe rentals
Guard shack on the left and camp store on the right
We enjoyed paddling the waters of the Sante Fe stopping for a picnic at Rum Island, a short paddle up river from the spring run. Rum Island Spring and Park has a nice spring that is adjacent to the Santa Fe river. It is roped off to keep paddlers out of the headwaters. The cool clear waters of the spring are delightfully refreshing for visitors who visit this park either by it's docking area or by car.
Paddlers on the Santa Fe River
Rum Island head spring as seen from the Santa Fe River
Cypress Trees line the banks of the Santa Fe River
Gilchrist has a lovely loop trail that will take you to a number of small springs that are surrounded by old cypress groves and lush plant life. The area around this beautiful park is full of beauty that is hard to beat when you are looking for a cool shady place to relax.
Tent camping area
Fresh water spring adjacent to the hiking trail
Cypress groves are common in the park
Labels: Florida State Parks