Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Last day at O’Leno State Park, High Springs, FL.

It turned out to be a perfect day today. Temperatures in the mid 70’s. We all decided to hike and explore the park on our last day here.

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I picked up some information at the ranger’s station and will share it here.

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Nature & History:

The Natural Land Bridge that spans the distance between River Sink and River Rise provided an easy passage over the Santa Fe River from as early as 7,000 BC. The old Spanish trail and the first federally

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funded road connecting St. Augustine and Pensacola used this crossing.

In the mid 1800s, the town of Leno was founded along the banks of the Santa Fe River just upstream from where the river disappears. The first telegraph linking Florida to the outside world passed through Leno.

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In 1896, the railroad bypassed the tiny town, causing Leno’s inevitable decline. By the turn of the century the settlement was only a memory.

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The old wire road and mill dams are all that remain of this early pioneer town. Acquired in the early 1930s by the Florida Board of Forestry, the park was developed by Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the

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Works Progress Authority primarily for use as a summer forestry camp. Several of the original structures are still standing today.

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O’Leno State Park is located on the banks of the scenic Santa Fe River, a tributary of the Suwannee River.

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The distinctive geological feature of the park is the River sink where the Santa Fe River disappears underground to re-emerge three miles south at River Rise Preserve State Park.

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Numerous sinkhole lakes may be seen from the trails throughout the park. The Limestone Trail guides visitors to an abandoned quarry that played a significant role in providing building materials for construction during the CCC era.

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There are 18 distinct natural communities within O’Leno and River Rise Preserve. These diverse habitats host a variety of wildlife including white-tailed deer, turkey, grey fox, and gopher tortoise.

Reprinted from the O’Leno & River Rise Preserve State Park hand out Pamphlets.

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Wilma does not like bridges, especially hanging bridges. I think you can tell from her stance above as she looks over the hand railing.

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We didn’t cross the bridge and stayed back as the rest of the gang continued exploring.

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We took in the beauty of the park with the Dogwood in full bloom.

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This was our first “long hike to us” and it felt good to accomplish it, especially here at this park.

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The different varieties of Palm Trees are our favorite. Probably for most people from the North!

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We have really enjoyed our stay at this Florida State Park. Our salute goes out to the State of Florida for this beautiful park and we look forward to staying at more state parks in the future.

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We will be leaving in the morning and heading toward Tampa, FL. We all would like to stop south of Tampa at a Wal-Mart for the night. Our travel distance tomorrow should be only about 130 miles or so.

Until next time, be safe and God Bless.

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