O’Leno State Park
O’Leno State Park is best known as the place where the entire Santa Fe River disappears under ground for two miles before surfacing again at River Rise. The park itself comprises several square miles, crisscrossed with trails for hiking and off-road bicycling. The original town of O’Leno was built around a water-driven grist mill. The town all but disappeared in the late 1800s; most of the park’s current facilities were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s — most notably a breathtaking suspension bridge. Campsites available. Visit O’Leno State Park Website.
Downtown High Springs
Most of the buildings in downtown High Springs date from the late 1800s and early 1900s, when the town was the railroading capitol of north-central Florida. Today visitors will find a delightful assortment of specialty shops and restaurants. Among downtown’s most prominent draws are the many antiques shops, offering a glimpse back to an era when steam locomotives filled Main Street’s busy railroad crossing. The High Springs Chamber of Commerce website lists a number of regular events and activities, such as the weekly farmers market and annual Pioneer Days celebration. Visit High Springs Chamber website.
Poe Springs Park
Poe Springs is a 202-acre public park filled with scenic woodlands and rolling fields, located along the banks of the Santa Fe River. Poe Spring itself is one of the area’s largest spring, pumping 45 million gallons of cool, refreshing water daily. The park features fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, and picnicking. There are volleyball courts and large fields for other recreational activities. The shallow water makes it kid-friendly. Camping is permitted through special arrangements with the park office (no pets or alcohol are allowed). Visit Poe Springs Website.
Ginnie Springs is the area’s largest attraction, drawing thousands of visitors annually. This private park consists of seven, crystal-clear springs, lining the south bank of the Santa Fe River. The park is the area’s largest campground, and features volleyball courts, warm bathhouses and a fully-stocked general store. Ginnie Springs is very popular among scuba divers, snorkelers and tubers, who take advantage of both the springs and river. It is also a designated pick-up point for Canoe Outpost excursions. Visit Ginnie Springs Website.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park
The crystal-clear Ichetucknee River flows six miles before joining the Santa Fe River. It is the number one tubing destination in the region. In addition to tubing, visitors can enjoy picnicking, snorkeling, canoeing, swimming, hiking and wildlife viewing. Picnic areas, equipped with tables and grills, are available. A concession offers food and refreshments from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Tubes and snorkeling equipment can be rented from private vendors outside the park. Visit Ichetucknee State Park Website.
Suwannee River Greenway at Branford
The road bed of the Savannah, Florida and Western Railroad between Fort White and Branford has been converted into one of the area’s longest paved bike trails. Starting in Fort White, the trail parallels the south side of US-27 for 13.5 miles, across the Ichetucknee, and on to Branford. At Ivey Park, it turns north for an additional 3.1 miles to CR-248. Here it is just another 1.9 miles down this quiet country road to Little River Spring on the banks of the Suwannee.