O’Leno State Park
Address: 410 SE O’Leno Park Rd, High Springs, FL 32643-1119
Hours and Fees: The Park is open 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year. The fee is $5 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.
Photography: Forest interior may present a challenge to find and photograph wildlife. Pine Flatwoods and river edges are more open with better light conditions.
Policies: Well-behaved pets on a 6-foot leash at all times are welcome. Some restrictions apply.
Bird Watching Bicycling Canoeing Camping Hiking Swimming Wildlife Observation Fishing
Campgrounds Nature & Hiking Trails Mountain Bike Trails Canoe & Kayak Launch Visitor Center Restroom Facilities Museum Parking Lots Event Pavilion
These are the most characteristic birds at O’Leno State Park. The photo gallery includes conspicuous, often more common, and those considered a specialty bird to the site of a list of approximately 125 species that have been recorded at this site. Birds included in the photo gallery give an idea of the species with the highest chances of being seen and photographed on a visit to O’Leno State Park.
The caption for each photo contains the Species Name, Measurements, Abundance, and Habitat Type where the species is more frequently seen.
Mammals & Reptiles
These are the larger and more conspicuos mammals and reptiles known to occur at O’leno State Park. The names are on the photo caption.
River Floodplains, which are typically located next to rivers, streams, and coasts are some of the most valuable ecosystems on Earth. Floodplains are nature’s best defense against destructive floods, provide essential habitat for wildlife, improve water quality, and protect human communities. Unfortunately, floodplains are often considered prime building locations.
Hardwood Forests are closed canopy forests, dominated by a diverse assemblage of evergreen and semi-deciduous tree and shrub species. Hardwood forests with slight variation in plant composition are found throughout Florida.
Pine Flatwoods are the most extensive terrestrial ecosystem in Florida. This community is characterized by low, flat topography, relatively poorly drained, acidic, sandy soil, and in the past, by open pine woodlands with frequent lightning and human-caused fires.
Cypress Swamps are clusters of cypress trees that grow in water-logged soils. Two species of cypress occur in Florida, the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) and the pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens). The two species of cypress trees are the most flood-tolerant of all Florida tree species, grow in areas that are covered in water for longer periods than the surrounding marshlands.
- Main entrance road leading to the interpretacion center.
- Fishing and swimming platform.
- One of the several campgrounds onsite.
- Old house from the Civilian Conservation Corps time.
O’Leno State Park
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The more popular trails at O’leno State Park include:
River Sink Trail is a 2.4 km-long loop trail that starts/ends at 29.91522, -82.58088.
Limestone Trail is a 1.1 km-long loop trail that starts/ends at 29.91939, -82.59002.
O’Leno Campground Trail is a 2.6 km-long loop trail that starts/ends at 29.91323, -82.584.
O’Leno State Park trail is a 10.9 km-long loop trail that starts/ends at 29.91521, -82.58076.
There are other longer trails less used and poorly marked.
O’leno State Park is one of Florida’s first state parks. It was established by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. Camp O’Leno opened in 1938 as a Florida Forest Service training camp. The CCC built the suspension bridge that goes across the Santa Fe River, which runs through the park and disappears underground to reemerge approximately three miles away in the River Rise State Preserve. The park now has campgrounds and hiking trails through hardwood hammocks, river swamps, sandhills, and sinkholes.
Plan your Trip
The park offers several campgrounds, canoe and kayak launch pad, 11 miles of biking and hiking trails, and well-maintained bathrooms and other facilities. Most visitors come for a day visit or camping for the weekend, particularly over long-weekend holidays. Hiking, wildlife observation, camping, and swimming during the summer months appear to be the more popular activities.
The best time to visit
In general fall and spring are the best seasons to go camping and hiking in Florida. It’s not too hot or too cold. The tradeoff is that the water in creeks and rivers will be a bit chilly. The hot and humid summer months are great for visits that involve spending most of your time in or near the water.
What to do there
Walk the trails. The springs months are ideal for bird-watching and wildlife observation. It coincides with the beginning of the breeding season for many animals and the arrival or passing of migratory birds. Visit the suspension bridge across the Santa Fe River. Visit the hole where the Santa Fe River disappears underground. Debris and foam spins before going under to later re-appear a few miles downstream.
Where to look for birds
- Pine Flatwoods. Pine Flatwoods are typically open woodlands dominated by pines. This ecosystem is most commonly used as woodlands (timber, wildlife, recreation, etc.). Birds regularly associated with Pine Flatwoods include Red-shouldered Hawk, Bachman’s Sparrow, Bobwhite Quail, Piliated Woodpecker, Pine Warbler, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Red-headed Woodpecker, and Eastern Towhee among others.
- Hardwood Forest. A hardwood hammock is a habitat that is found on higher elevations, making it a dry habitat. To walk into a hardwood hammock is to walk through a shady tropical forest. Bird regularly associated to hardwoods hommocks include Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren, Gray Catbird, Summer Tanager, and Northern Cardinal.
- Cypress Swamps: A Cypress swamp is dominated by cypress trees (Taxodium distichum). Cypress trees are well adapted to the water-logged soils. The roots produce “knees” that protrude above the soil, ranging from a few inches to 6 feet (several centimeters to 1.8 meters) tall. It is thought that these knees aid in respiration, providing required oxygen to the root tissues, as well as aiding in structural support in water-logged soils. Not many birds associate with Cypress Swamps except for the Barred Owl, which is regularly found in cypress swamps.
River Floodplain: River edges attract a variety of birds. The Great Blue-Heron is likely to be found in the portion of the Santa Fe River within O’Leno State Park.
Where to look for Mammals
Mammals are likely to be seen in both wooded areas and openings. The White-tailed Deer is the mammal most likely to be seen during a visit to O’Leno State Park.
What to wear and bring
Despite being warm for most of the year, winter nights can reach freezing temperatures in Central Florida. Check the forecasted temperatures and dress accordingly.
The summer months are known to have many mosquitoes and ticks along the trails. Dogs are notorious for being infested with ticks. Insect repellent with Deet is recommended.