Shell Bluff Park/Shell Bluff boat launch

 

This was an amazing impromptu day paddling on the lake for the first time. I had initially planned to go to Welaka but he was freaking out because we took a different road than he was use to so I stopped here because I knew they had a playground and trail. We finished the trail and walked down to the boat launch and I knew immediately we had to walk back and drive over so we could go paddle boarding.

The benefits of having an inflatable board can be seen here for sure. Man, that day was so relaxing. The water was calm, the sun felt great. We paddled down this creek and I had to lay flat to go under the fallen tree. The first time I stepped over it (with care) while still on my board but that was a little too unsteady for my liking. Don’t wanna fall off in those waters lol. Just get some kind of gator vibe.


There was a missing man in the area that kept police in the park the 6 hours we were there. Not sure how that ended but I hope he was found safe.

A cop came up and told me if I see an older man to call 911, had me looking over my shoulder half the afternoon lmao.

Silver Glen Springs

 

WE LOVE SILVER GLEN SPRINGS !

I didn’t want to start with talking about those ice cream sandwich cookies buuut, I changed my mind. They are so delicious ! And I have been able to get one every time we’ve gone, the other springs close their stores really early during weekdays. We weekday spring-ers want to concession too..whatduhfunk.

So, Silver glen is absolutely beautiful and after paddling Alexander Springs I cannot wait to paddle silver glen. The water is so crystal clear, the most clear I have seen yet and the bright iceberg blue color. It is heaven, if you haven’t been…go ! The Yearling Trail is right across the road so if you hike like us try to get that in or Silver Glen has a long trail as well if you get stuck at the park.

-I will say we did 4.7 miles on the Yearling Trail total and made it to the sink hole…totally worth it. Little man wanted to go down but we were the only ones out there so that didn’t happen.

Silver Glen offers:

  • Convenience store
  • swimming
  • canoe rental
  • launch
  • Spring Boils Trail
  • Lake George Trail
  • picnic tables, grills, volleyball net

The lake george took us 3 hours to do when we hiked the whole trail so it is a decent hike. It has two look off points, don’t be fooled by the shallow area…it is not shore line. My son ran straight for it (as he typically does with large bodies of water) and found himself waist deep in mush the first time we went on that trail. He looked so scared and ran back faster than ever lol but his shoe got stuck on the way and there was no finding it.

 

 

Tomoka State Park

This park is pretty huge, lots of spaced out areas and some will have:

  • bathrooms
  • picnic tables
  • fishing
  • concession (where the boat launch and kayak/canoe rentals are)

another area down the way will have different amenities like:

  • pavilion
  • bathrooms
  • playground

This was our second time going and I really like the park a lot. There are many small beautiful scenic spots. I set up our tent just for practice while we spent the afternoon there. He played in the water with his boogie board and loved when boats came by because they made waves. Then we took our board out onto the river, we got carried away quick…it was a windy day but eventually we made it back. I have gained a ton of arm definition since owning a paddle board !

As we were packing up our stuff we brought down to shore something came up from the water while blowing water from it’s nose. I thought it was an alligator at the time…I have lived here 8 years and have only seen them basking in the sun, no water run ins and i’m okay with this. But, thinking about it now I may have spazzed out over a manatee… better safe than sorry (:

Some things the park offers are:

  • interpretive nature trail
  • Chief Timokie sculpture
  • fishing
  • Camping (pricey in my opinion – most expensive so far)
  • group camping
  • many creeks and rivers off the peninsula to canoe and kayak in
  • kayak/canoe rentals
  • Playground in the camping area

Accessibility-

The park has a few accessible bathrooms and parking spots (one is located in the Nocoroco Point day use area where we were). I liked that spot, we got the picnic table to the left of the bathroom and there is a path that leads to the water on the opposite side of the bathroom. The sculpture is right there in that parking lot area as well. So definitely, if accessibility is a concern this day use area is most likely the best choice.


Their map view in the brochure is pixelated, if you go ask for the aerial view.

Camping rant

I’ve been looking for places to camp like I said in an earlier post and I already have/had several nearby areas in mind that show primitive camping is allowed. So I go to my city’s parks and rec building to get information on permits and fees…they know nothing about county parks and direct me to someone else. I am told by them that the only primitive camping that can be done at these locations is “group camping” she kept using boy scouts as an example.

  • One of these places of interest is in connection with Haw Creek Preserve State Park
  • I can’t help but wonder how often, or not, these camping spots get used because they are limited  to group camping.
  • I also can’t help but wonder if the city knows it’s losing money to outside areas when people (me) would be just as satisfied camping locally at River To Sea Preserve or Haw Creek preserve
  • The woman that works there has not thoroughly read the park’s information because it does show both group and primitive at River to Sea. I will be calling back haha.

Both of those places are very nice and quiet. Hardly anyone ever there… River to Sea Preserve looks gorgeous at sunset i’m sure i’ll make a blog post on these as well.

…..When I go camping.

 

jk 😛

Juniper Springs

 

Juniper Springs Recreation Area is the cutest spring, that’s my best description of the whole place. It’s not a huge area but everything about it is so nice. When we went this time I made sure to walk through the campsite area and they have, in my not very experienced with camping in florida opinion, a nice set up. The spring itself is very pretty, it is not shallow like others and it is enclosed much like De Leon Springs is.

Juniper Springs offers:

  • Concession store
  • camping
  • kayaking down Juniper Spring Run
  • kayak rentals
  • picnic tables
  • grills
  • nature trail
  • boardwalk trail
  • Florida trail
  • Millhouse exhibit

Accessibility-

Overall I do not consider it very accessible, there are lots of steps to the spring. The steps in the spring do have a handrail though and the entrance walking in is paved. However, the boardwalk trail when we went last week was closed.


 

Spruce Creek Park

Really is a beautiful spot, so much open land..I love it. I believe there is more than one trail here for hikers, We walked 2 miles on the trail we were on. There is a canoe launch and a small playground that my son played on for a bit before heading to the trail. Something to comment on is that the only two swings are the ones for small children. One of the entrances to Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve is on the opposite side of the road from this park so you could stop there as well.  Lots of picnic tables (some down the trail as well) and even a vending machine by the playground and bathroom. There were so many butterflies along the trail ! This is a pretty open area so definitely bring enough water and sunscreen.

spruce creek state paddling trail

Our paddle board

We got our board just a few months ago after I spent over a year thinking it over. It’s an inflatable, I am surprised how many people don’t know they exist. Often times i’ll offer to let someone stand on it if they want; one time a little boy thought it was pretty cool that it was like he was surfing. Definitely has been a conversation starter and a few strangers have taken pictures and text them to me when we got back to shore.

Tribal Boards is the brand of our paddle board.

P1000290

It’s a little over 11 feet long. We both fit great 🙂 We were taking a snack break here.

He loved it from the beginning, however initially he was on and off, would not stay on longer than 8 seconds…but he finally sat and let me paddle one evening. I think he realized how relaxing it is and understood what was going to happen when he actually stayed on so now we are able to paddle for around three hours.

He is always moving and this is the longest he will stay in one spot. He likes to splash with his feet and hands on the sides 90% of the time he is so happy and at peace.

The other 10%, yikes. Handling him getting upset while we are out can be tough depending on the reason. But it happens while we are paddling as well so I have three things at my disposal currently:

  1. food
  2. drinks
  3. music (The Little Mermaid Soundtrack or Moana are top choices)

The waterproof speaker I got is amazing: waterproof, sandproof, and made to be handled roughly. It has not only been a meltdown saver but has added so much fun to some of  our nights. I got mine from QVC for 2 speakers for the price of one.

Alexander Springs

First thing I have to comment on is the staff at Alexander Springs in Ocala National Forest, I think they are incredible. They are so so kind and friendly, just good-hearted people. We have been here twice and experienced the same both times. I will always appreciate kind people.

Example of friendly and kind: My son is having a meltdown because he is exhausted and confused with my unusually unorganized method of packing up so he is crying and whining the whole time i’m trying to pack up. I am also trying to console him, with no luck. A man that works there came over with his golf cart and asked if I wanted him to drive our stuff up. And he joked with my son “now that’s not a very nice noise” which made me laugh because no it’s not lol. While he was helping get our stuff on the back my son jumped in the driver’s seat and then the man offers to drive us up. He was asking my son if he saw any alligators or turtles and I informed him that he is nonverbal. Then he got to talking about how he watched a video of a nonverbal kid on youtube that sung the little mermaid and I told him how ironic that is because my own nonverbal kid forces me to listen to the soundtrack daily. (: He loves Ariel.


So, we came here and I was determined to paddle board so as I inflated our board he played in the spring (i’ll do a post about my board next). Last time we went I didn’t own a board and we went on the trail(s). This time we really only had time to paddle out a bit and come back in. Paddling !!! It was beautiful, seriously…go, now ! I was in awe. I thought it was going to fade into regular lake water eventually but it was clear the whole time we were out paddling. And we did an hour both ways so maybe 1-2 miles ? There were so many fish and turtles but, I didn’t see any alligators..thankfully. We were late packing up and leaving, however we were not given a hard time about it at all.

This is a recreation site, not a state park.

  • Camping
  • canoeing, kayaking, rental, and free launch with entrance fee
  • trails
  • concession
  • picnic tables
  • grills
  • Segments of the florida trail run through as well
  • showers

Accessibility-

This is also an accessible spot, to an extent. They have sidewalks leading down to the spring but, right before it is a sand area. There are steps leading down into the springs as well. One of the trails is a boardwalk trail with T-docks and benches.

Welaka State Forest

 

Loved this spot and will be going back, likely soon. We went to Welaka State Forest and took the Mud Spring trailhead to Mud Springs. Not a long hike at all, about a mile to the spring and it is definitely an easy one. The trail has benches along the way (:

It is a loop trail but you could always just retrace your steps and go the way you came as well when you leave the spring. Unfortunately I didn’t know you could get in so we did not come prepared to do so, there were already three kids in there and they hadn’t gotten eaten so I assumed it was safe 😛 Next time we will go more prepared and i’ll hop in with him.

There are primitive camping sites in this state forest of course, at Orange Point and John’s Landing. The shorter route would be taking the John’s Landing trailhead. I plan on taking us camping soon so I am going to look into this spot as well as others. Location is important, I want to be near water so we can go paddle boarding as well as hiking.

 

 

 

De Leon Springs State Park 04/14/17

Friday we went to De Leon Springs State Park in DeLeon Springs, FL after my little man got home from school. It was a gorgeous day and I figured if he wasn’t up for the cold spring water they also have:

  • Monkey Island trail
  • Playground
  • A longer 4.2 mile Wild Persimmon trail
  • A sugar mill pancake house
  • kayak rentals
  • A free launch

He did want to get in the water so that’s where we spent most of our time and he had a lot of fun playing with a random pool noodle that no one was claiming. The water was much more clear than when I went in January, it also wasn’t crowded and it’s been like that all three times i’ve been. Eventually he got out the water…. probably for his PB&J sandwich and I got his dry clothes on so we could walk to see Methuselah, a 600 yr old Cypress tree. I thought the boardwalk to the tree was much more scenic than the actual tree itself personally. We also went on the Monkey Island trail. Hopefully they do some kind of sign work or something because it is a bit confusing with an area near the beginning that looks like it branches off into a trail with just an old wooden post but then the trail stops so we had to backtrack. I have started the Wild Persimmon trail on my own before but due to time constraints, didn’t finish. I know my son would like it (it has short boardwalks and I think kids would look at them as fun obstacles) so I’m going to try getting him on that trail next time.


Accessibility-

Not bad at all ! I would say it is highly accessible. With a chair lift So people in wheelchairs (just one example) can be placed in the chair and lowered into the water to enjoy the beautiful spring water as well. The main walkways are paved and there is a long paved trail as well as the boardwalk trail leading to the  600 year old tree. These are important to note because many parks do not provide these things so when they do I know it makes a huge difference for those that require them.