My camping equipment

My camping equipment
Campsite setup

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Summer Trip 2021, Fort Pickens National Seashore, Pensacola, FL

 Fort Pickens Campground


Gulf Islands National Seashore, Fort Pickens Area

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.

Ospreys are common on the barrier island

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.

15 inch cannon perched high on the walls of Fort Pickens

Artillery Battery, One of the many near Fort Pickens

Big Gun in Artillery Battery placed in the sand dunes

Arches on the lower levels of the fort provide strength for the overall structure

Civil war gunnery equipment on display at the fort

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

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Summer Trip 2021, Torreya State Park, Bristol, FL

 Torreya State Park

Located on high bluffs overlooking the Apalachicola River make Torreya one of Florida's most scenic places. 

The Apalachicola River 

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

Our campsite

Enjoying the shade of our easy up at our campsite. 
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 front entrance to 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.

Interpretive park sign of the aftermath of Hurricane Michael

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Spring Trip 2021, Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park

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.

50 foot Observations 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.

My wife Barbara & our friend Diane at our campsite enjoying a lovely April day

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

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.



Spring Trip 2021 Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park, High Springs, FL

Located west of High Springs, FL near the banks of the beautiful Santa Fe river
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. 

The Blue Spring run 

Turtles enjoying the warm April sun 

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.

Ginnie Springs 

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.

Our campsite

kayak and canoe rentals

Picnic shelter

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