Doug & Barbara Peterson

Doug & Barbara Peterson
Barbara & I at a scenic overlook on the skyline drive in the Rocky Mountain National Park, 8-13-2016

Monday, April 8, 2019

Florida State Parks, O'leno State Park, High Springs, FL

O'leno State Park

Located near High Springs, FL, O'leno State Park is a lovely place surrounded by old growth live oaks and abundant wildlife that is native to this area. The parks landmark suspension bridge leads to a loop trail that takes you along the banks of the Santa Fe River to the river sink where the river goes underground for three miles forming a natural bridge.


Turtles floating on a log above the river sink
The Santa Fe River Sink

O'leno has a rich history that goes back to the days when it was a forestry training camp for the young men of the CCC and WPA in the 1930's. You can still see some of the original buildings that were built to last a lifetime including the landmark suspension bridge.



The CCC & WPA museum

The Forestry Training Hall

Barbeque pit used to feed the CCC recruits 
The Camping areas at O'leno are in two areas. The Dogwood campground, where we stayed, is located near the entrance of the park. The restrooms are clean and located in the center of the campground. Each site is nicely shaded with old growth Live Oaks which are throughout the park. There is no sewer hookup on the sites however there is a dump station near the Sweetwater campground that is located near the river. We really enjoyed our visit and will be coming back in the future.

Barbara relaxing under our EZ canopy at the Dogwood Campground

Our site at the Dogwood Campground in O'leno State Park

Barbara at the Santa River sink at O'leno State Park
The Santa Fe River is a kayaking paradise with many paddling opportunities in the surrounding area. We spent two days on the Santa Fe River visiting the springs that feed into the river. The wildlife is abundant and the clear cool waters of the springs along the river are amazing. 

Our friends Tom & Lin paddling with Barbara down the Santa Fe River 

Paddling up the clear waters of the beautiful Gilchrist/Blue Springs run

The view from our kayaks paddling down the Santa Fe River

Cottage on the banks of the Santa Fe River

Long log providing a sunny rest for a group of friendly turtles

Bald Eagle on the banks of the Santa Fe river
Along the river we visited the several springs, some that are on the river's edge
. All of the springs along the river are unique and special providing a cool and refreshing place to swim in the crystal clear waters.

Rum Island Spring on the banks of the Santa Fe River

Paddlers entering Rum Island County Park from the Santa Fe River

Poe Springs, a large group of paddlers were enjoying the park on this day

Poe Springs

Barbara paddling on the spring run at Gilchrist-Blue Springs State Park

Barbara in the clear waters of Blue Springs

There are several places that paddlers can hire outfitters in the area to pick them up after a paddle downstream. Folks who do not have a kayak or canoe can rent them by the hour to paddle the river. One such place is the outfitter Rum 138 located near Rum Island. Rum Island County Park has free parking and is a great place to launch. Paddlers come from great distances to enjoy the beautiful Santa Fe river and surrounding springs. We always have a great time when we visit this area.

Mermaid Spring just upstream from Rum Island

Artwork on the cypress knobs along the banks of the Santa Fe river
O'leno State Park & River Rise