Suwannee River State Park

Suwannee River sunrise_Photo by Eric Daugherty, courtesy FloridaStateParks.org

Suwannee River sunrise_Photo by Eric Daugherty, courtesy FloridaStateParks.org

Story by E. Adam Porter

 

Come to Suwannee River State Park to explore history and enjoy 1,800 acres of prime wilderness in, on and around one of Florida’s most famous waterways. During my hike down to the river a mother and son, the latter about 8 years old, greeted me. He looked up, bright eyed and asked: “Are you exploring too?” I nodded and he added: “Isn’t this great!” Yep. It was. Along the trail there was evidence of gopher tortoises, deer and foxes. Songbirds serenaded through the trees and the mid-March wildflowers were in full bloom, splashing bright colors across the countless shades of brown and green.

Suwannee River SP_Boat Ramp_1621

Drop a boat in at the ramp, just be aware of the slow travel zones

 

Where the Suwannee and Withlacoochee meet

Pick up the Lower Suwannee canoe trail and ply it all the way to the Gulf of Mexico

 

A canoeist glides down the Suwannee River.

 

Fish along the banks for catfish, bass and panfish. License may be required, inquire at the ranger station.

Hike along the elevated banks of the river on Lime Sink Run

 

Tour Civil War era earthworks along Earthworks Trail

Cemetary in the park

Visit the historic Columbus Cemetery via Sandhills Trail and stroll along the river on Balanced Rock Trail

Walk along the remnants of Old Stagecoach Road, a piece of an original route from Jacksonville to Pensacola

 

HISTORY

Native Americans called this area home as far back as 12,000 years. The first Europeans here were Spanish explorers led by De Soto. Later, in 1818, Andrew Jackson brought American forces to root out Indian strongholds. Remnants of martial history can also be seen in the Civil War era Confederate earthworks. The town of Columbus, established here in 1841, can be remembered by visiting the Columbus Cemetery, one of the oldest in the state. For 33 years, between 1867 and 1900, steamboats, railways, timber and cotton brought in huge influxes of money, but this economic prosperity was short lived. The park lands were initially purchased in 1936 and formally opened in 1951, making Suwannee River State Park one of Florida’s earliest.

 

Historic train depot in Live Oak_1550

 

For a closer look at local history, visit the Suwannee County Historical Museum at 208 North Ohio Avenue in nearby Live Oak. But be sure to call ahead, 386.362.6296. The museum is not always staffed, even during posted business hours. I found out the hard way. The Train Depot, adjacent to the museum was built in 1909. It served four rail lines: the Atlantic Coast Railroad, the Searboard Air Line, the Florida Railway and the Live Oak, Perry & Gulf Railroad. The last of these lines maintained service until 1971.

 

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

 

If you plan to drop a boat in the river be on the lookout for Gulf Sturgeon. These fish can get massive – up to 8 feet and 200 pounds – and they like to leap into the air without filing a flight plan. They have been known to collide with boaters. That hurts, and it can hurt badly for a long time.

 

If you are in a cruising mood, or if you brought your motorcycle, the nearby Stagecoach Road offers a beautiful ride in the country, particularly in the springtime. Livestock pastures and farmland line the hilly 2-lane blacktop and wildflowers fill the roadsides.

 

 

CAMPING AT SUWANNEE RIVER STATE PARK

Camping at Suwannee River State Park_1616

www.floridastateparks.org/suwanneeriver

Sites are a mix of grass and gravel. Encroaching trees and tighter sites make the campground feel a bit snug. Though some sites are long enough for bigger rigs, all of them are a better fit for smaller RVs and travel trailers. The campground offers 30 mixed-use campsites.

 

  • Full hookups – water, sewer & electric (50 amp)
  • Plenty of shade trees, picnic tables & grills
  • Well maintained bathing and restroom facilities
  • No pull thrus, tight sites for bigger rigs
  • Family & pet friendly

 

Call 386.362.2746 for more information. Suwannee River State Park is located at . GPS:30.220621, -83.164641. Make reservations on the park website or by calling Reserve America at 800.326.3521.

 

 

by

I'm a storyteller. Fortunately, that is also what I get paid to do. Born on a boat and bred on the back of a horse I tend to see the world a bit differently ... and I sway when I walk.

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