Freak Creek again

 

 

We went back to Freak Creek a few weekends ago to hangout and paddle board this time 😀

There were quite a few people there when we showed up, kids and adults…all of which were super friendly. The area was a lot cleaner than before, no beer cans or empty beer cases laying around. There is no garbage way out there along the forest roads so if no one takes out what they bring in then it stays there which is a shame because this time around I saw how much of a “family friendly” spot this actually is. Whereas my first impression when we camped was that it wasn’t simply due to what trash had been left behind. There were kids on the rope swings having a blast and my son got interested in trying at one point so I helped him with one that is on the shallow side of the creek and he kept coming back wanting to go again lol. I was watching one of the boys there continuously try landing on the kayak from the swing and luckily he missed every time :’)

Kids are so wild, it can be admirable sometimes… i’ve never been on a rope swing, now that i’m an adult and analyze all the potential risks i’m nervous to try it. Not that i won’t try, i’m just nervous to. You only live once, right ? One of the families there had a kayak and let him play in it, of course he still loved the slide that’s there, and we took our paddle board out going down stream for a bit.

Going down the creek there is another landing, this is a designated dispersed camping location. This means there is no fee to camp as well as no amenities. There are three sites there from what I have read online, I didn’t want to leave my paddle board very long to go looking but from what I saw there’s plenty of room. Lots of fish down stream, I saw a sunken boat as well.. kind of creepy. I would have paddled farther if it weren’t for the mosquitos and the fallen/underwater trees. My 11 ft. board can be hard to maneuver with branches sticking out of the water and I try really hard to avoid them because my board is an inflatable. I’m thinking next time we will paddle upstream towards Alexander Springs Recreation Area to see how the water changes, hopefully see some turtles again.

The fire ban has been lifted ! yay 🙂 Someone started a fire while we were there in hopes that the smoke would help but there is very limited fire wood out there (if any) so if you plan on camping and wanting a good campfire bring your own firewood. Even after a shower I still smelt like campfire the next day lol. Again, there are no amenities which means no fire rings either. We made a fire our first night out but that’s because we needed light lol, I have a lantern and portable stove now so I’m not sure if i’d start one up.

Little man really loves this spot though and I want to go camping again before school starts back up so maybe after seeing how family friendly it is I won’t take this spot off our places to camp list.

….It is a real list.

River Bend Nature Park

 

River Bend Nature Park is located in Ormond and situated along the Tomoka river. It’s a small park but has the necessary things needed to be able to enjoy an hour or two. Very serene and the 3 times we have been only a few other people were there, this last time was our first time seeing other kids. I always want to paddle board on the river but when we go it’s windy so I haven’t been able to do that yet. The trail is an easy one with exercise stations scattered along it as well as a few benches here and there. There are a couple docks and a place where you could launch a kayak/canoe. This park is fairly close to Bulow Plantation Ruins State Park as well as Tomoka State Park.

Things offered at the park:

  • kayak launch
  • trail
  • bathroom
  • grills
  • picnic tables
  • fishing docks
  • exercise stations
  • playground

Accessibility-

There are no sidewalks but I would say that the trail is accessible because it is very flat. The handicap parking is located near the bathrooms as well.

Lighthouse Point Park

 

We had the most blissful time at Lighthouse Point Park in Ponce Inlet. Wow ! So, the price to get in is steep, $10/car…however I have been craving to go back ever since and an annual pass is only $20. The lighthouse is not inside this park but it is nearby, so if you read TripAdvisor reviews they may be misleading because people are reviewing in the wrong place.

I have to mention gas prices there (this is how I know I’m an adult these days, some times it’s questionable) it’s $2.07 there and $2.28 here.

I check the weather using the accuweather app because it is extremely accurate. I just check in all my favorite cities to see what I might be able to plan for the day. It was raining here, and showing that it was cloudy there but not going to rain and since the water had been so nice the previous times we went to Ponce I went for it. So, i’m on the highway and it is pouring rain…continuously…I get anxiety driving (believe it or not) as it is so I’m talking myself into this… “No, this is going to be fine. The rain will be fine. If it’s raining oh well. Why is it raining…we are 15 minutes away?! It’s okay, we can swim in the rain.”

We get to the pay booth and it’s drizzling a good amount, my book bag got pretty wet (hindsight I could have used one of our dry bags that we take for paddle boarding). The guy was telling me if I want to turn around there’s a free spot where I can park on the beach and he feels bad I drove an hour and it’s raining. I told him it’s okay, I came specifically for this spot 🙂 So we pay and drive in, pass the nature trails, lots of side parking and boardwalk entrances before getting to the main parking lot.

We walked some of the boardwalk then turned off to exit and do the nature trail first. By the time we finished that and were back walking the boardwalk to the ocean it was just drizzling. The water was warm and a clear jade color. I made a video under water and you can see me perfectly. The rain was wonderful but slowly died down. We had so much fun and because it wasn’t cold/windy I wasn’t in any rush to leave at any point. When we got out of the water we walked along the jetty (still unsure why it’s called that) but, it was beautiful- I finally got to see the Inlet part of Ponce Inlet. The park is closing at 9 PM right now btw. We made it out with probably 3 minutes to spare (:

 

Things the park offers:

  • swimming
  • nature trail
  • pavilion rentals
  • grills
  • picnic tables
  • bathrooms
  • showers
  • fishing
  • surfing

Accessibility-

Absolutely ! There is a long winding boardwalk where it connects to all parking areas: pavilions, the trail, beach, and jetty. Even the trail isn’t too bad !

 

Ponce Inlet Preserve

 

We have gone to Ponce Inlet Preserve many many times because it has everything in one area. It is so unexpected and absolutely beautiful, also absolutely free 🙂

I didn’t get pictures of the beach this last time because I was in the water the whole time. Man that water ! It’s like a light jade green, the waves were smooth and as you can see there was an overcast but the water was really warm. Really beautiful afternoon…

There’s a parking lot for the beach area as well as a parking lot in the area where the trails and playground are located if the beach one is full. When we were done with the beach we walked across the road and onto the trails. I love how it’s such a different setting and it’s all set up so nice, if you have kids or even if you don’t this spot is a must see. But, as I was saying, we went down the trails and passed the watch tower so the kiddos could get to the playground ( I won’t even get started on how nice it is) then we walked down the boardwalk. The boardwalk is over a mile total and goes to the Halifax River, it’s always been gorgeous at sunset and the approaching storm clouds were equally as such. By then the kids were pretty worn out, my son is use to walking a lot but hers aren’t so they weren’t really into the boardwalk. The walking distance is something to consider if you park where the trails are and intend to go to the beach from there, we did that our first time because we didn’t know of the other parking lot. I can’t give an estimate on the length of trails because there are several that connect; there are plenty of posted maps around the trails though 😀 I think those were put in after Hurricane Mathew.

Things available at the preserve:

  • swim
  • surf
  • playground
  • picnic tables
  • pavilion
  • boardwalk
  • nature trails
  • watch tower
  • fishing
  • kayak launches (2)
  • bathroom (trail/playground parking lot)
  • water fountains
  • historic tree

 


Accessibility:

The ramp to the beach and the boardwalk are both accessible but, most of trail is very hilly.

Salt Springs Recreation

We went to Salt Springs Recreation Area for my 24th birthday, whoop whoop ! 😀

I believe it was the only major swimming spring we had not been to yet in Ocala National Forest, it’s the furthest away so I had held off. Kind of silly since it’s only like 12 minutes from Silver Glen Springs Recreation … who woulda thunk it ?!

It was my favorite kind of day to go visit a spring: a nice overcast with little to no wind and it drizzled off and on for a bit which was nice as well. The spring is very big so on those busy days it still can hold a lot of people. My luck seems to be sticking where springs are concerned, there was hardly anyone there, maybe 10 cars…we went on a Monday though. My son was practicing his swimming which he has been doing a lot lately ! I’m so proud of him, I think he’s picked up just by watching people and I know it won’t be long before he gets it down. I don’t know the first thing about teaching anyone how to swim 😦 you know the saying….”those who can’t do, teach?” Well, I can do and quite well so i’ll use that as my excuse haha. The deepest part is by the boils so after many attempts of trying to convince him to get in on that side of the spring I just put him in (while his life vest was on) and had him swim back to the steps with it on. Oh my goodness, watching the video of his little legs and arms under water is so adorable ! He did such a great job. I got him as comfortable on that side of the water as I could and then we made our way towards the boils; I just couldn’t leave without seeing them first.

Wow they are gorgeous and so many to look at and explore too. The rocks are very very slippery and he was nervous so I was holding him but I got a pretty good look around. I would love to go back one day and look around some more, it’s something I haven’t done yet. While we were there I kicked a blue crab when I was walking and it popped out of the sand, crabs scare me more than sharks I think so I got freaked out, I haven’t seen those in any of the other springs so that was really cool as well. I know that there is a nature trail there but we didn’t get around to seeing it and I have no idea where it’s located so hopefully next time 🙂

Things offered at Salt Springs:

  • camping
  • showers and bathrooms
  • Bear Swamp Trail
  • swimming
  • kayaking and canoeing
  • picnic tables
  • pavilions
  • boat launch
  • fishing
  • Salt Springs Observation Tower Trail (located outside of the park, we started that when we left but only made it 1/4 of the loop)
  • scuba diving and snorkeling

Accessibility:

The walk ways are all paved so they are accessible. The steps aren’t too bad as far as algae and them being slippery, I don’t recall them being slippery at all really and both entrances have handrails. Just depends on the person’s mobility but I consider it accessible especially with the spring not being very deep. I wish I could comment on the trail inside the park however I know the one outside of the park is not accessible.