High Springs is a little town about 35 minutes north of Gainesville, FL and is home to two unique places, Poe Springs state park and O’leno State Park that showcase a unique feature of Florida’s underbelly!
Poe Springs is a county park located in High Springs ,FL, is one of the smaller springs. It’s located in a large park with volleyball courts and large fields. This particular spring has a green tint to the water caused by the algae covered bottom
It has steps down to its temperate waters, and pavilions all around for picnickers. We were there in February so the place wasn’t very busy, but we could see how it would be packed in the summertime. Kayakers and canoes were using it during our visit.
Swimming at Poe Springs?
Poe spring, however, was much more green than Rainbow Spring that we had visited earlier. Poe springs allows swimming and snorkeling although we had been told that the Alage is a recent occurrence and not many people swim now. The waters are about 25 feet deep an bubbles up in a pool that has access by a set of concrete stairs. From here the waters flow out in a narrow creek and flows into the Sante Fe river
O’Leno State Park & River Sink
We also visited O’Leno State Park to see the River Sink. This is where the Santa Fe River literally sinks into the ground. It then travels about 3 miles underground before rising up at River Rise (which just looks like another spring). We hiked with our dogs across the awesome suspension bridge out to the sink, and it wasn’t what we expected.
Sante Fe Sinks at O’leno Park
The Santa Fe river came to an end in what appeared to be a large circular pond. The surface of the water had a brown film on it, as well as lots of logs, branches, leaves, and other debris that floats down a river. The large logs in the center of the pond were covered with numerous huge turtles! Then we noticed that the water was moving, very slowly, in a large circle, spinning the logs and the turtles around from the center of the pond as the water plunged down under the ground. It travels underground for about 3 miles before resurfacing again.
Camping at River Rise
The awesome cheap camping we found in the area was at the River Rise Preserve Equestrian Camping area. This place is located off US27, nowhere near the entrance to River Rise State Park. The area is gated, so you have to call the park headquarters to pay and get the code to the lock ahead of time.
This area is primitive camping, or boondocking. No hookups, but there was a clean bath house with showers and hot water. We found out that this equestrian area was very popular, and was actually preparing for a large expansion. As it was, it had a 20 stall barn and a horse bathing station. A camp host is on site too, right next to the bathhouse. This fellow actually gave us a hard time for being there without a horse, and so held us up for several minutes while he called the park headquarters to verify.
Read more about it in our Boondocking In Florida Blog Post.
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