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O’Leno State Park and River Rise Preserve

May 15, 2020 by Corey A Edwards

O'Leno State Park River Sink

The Santa Fe River Sink at O’Leno State Park

Looking to get out, away from the crowds, and soak up some of Florida’s natural beauty? O’Leno State Park and the nearby River Rise Preserve offer hiking, biking, paddling, fishing, sinkholes, and even an underground river!

O’Leno State Park has the distinction of being one of Florida’s first state parks, developed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The park is located along the banks of the Santa Fe River, about 45 minutes west of our north Florida inn, Hampton Lake Bed and Breakfast.

Interestingly, the Santa Fe River disappears underground into the Bellamy Cave system as it passes through the park. The river flows through limestone passages, some 140 feet below ground, before reemerging three miles away in River Rise Preserve State Park.

The River Sink, where the Santa Fe disappears below ground, is located about a half mile downstream from O’Leno State Park’s main parking area. When river levels are low, the sink resembles a simple pond. When water levels are high, however, the sink swirls down and around in a counter clockwise direction.

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Silver Springs State Park – Glass Bottom Boat Tours

April 11, 2020 by Corey A Edwards

Alligator basking at Silver Springs State ParkSilver Springs State Park is well known for its natural springs, copious wildlife, glass-bottomed boats, and more. This popular and famous outdoor destination has been attracting visitors since the 1820’s and is only an hour’s drive of our North Florida inn, Hampton Lake Bed and Breakfast.

Silver Springs State Park, previously Silver River State Park, opened to the public in 1987 but has been a tourist attraction, some say Florida’s first, since the 1800’s. Even the park’s most famous feature – glass bottomed boat tours – is over 100 years old, having first been offered in 1870! In fact, Silver Springs is the birthplace of glass bottomed boats.

Silver Springs State Park is located on the Silver River, just west of Ocala National Forest. The 4,000-acre park includes the entire 5-mile Silver River and the sandhill forest that surrounds it.

The park now promotes its vast collection of natural habitats and eco-tourism activities showcasing Silver Springs. Springsfest, one of its biggest annual events, celebrates the efforts to protect and restore all Florida springs and waterways.

Lots of things have changed since those early days but one thing remains a constant: Silver Springs’ popularity.

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Explore Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park

May 17, 2019 by Corey A Edwards

Paynes Prairie Preserve STate ParkLooking to get out into the great outdoors during your North Florida adventures? Great idea! Hampton Lake Bed & Breakfast is surrounded by a number of parks and recreation areas, such as Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park.

Florida is a natural wonderland, lush with unique and vibrant flora and fauna and Paynes Prairie Preserve is a great place to see some of it. The preserve is home to wide and sometimes surprising variety of species. Along with the expected alligators and deer, Paynes Prairie Preserve is also home to herds of wild horses and bison!

Birders, in particular, will find a lot to love at the preserve, with almost 300 different species of birds. Black cormorants, blue herons, white ibis, belted kingfisher, snail kites, anhinga, and many others. can be found here throughout the year.

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Step Back In Time at Dudley Farm Historic State Park

January 28, 2019 by Corey A Edwards

Dudley Farm Historic State ParkStep back in time with a visit to the fully-restored, antebellum Dudley Farm. This historic State Park in Newberry, Fl features living history demonstrations, special events, and more.

Historic Dudley Farm is a one-of-a-kind, thoroughly authentic, 325-acre, working farm and Florida state park.

The facility presents the evolution of North Florida farming, from the pioneer days of the 1850’s through to the gasoline-powered 1940’s. This era of change is presented from the perspective of the Dudley family, generations of whom lived out their lives here.

The Dudley family moved to North Central Florida, from Charleston, SC, in the mid-1800’s. Three generations of the family worked the then 640-acre farm, expanding it to a successful crossroads community, with a post office and general store.

Today, visitors can travel back in time at the facility to see what life was once like here.

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Explore Santa Fe Swamp WMA Conservation Area

October 26, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

Florida's Santa Fe Swamp WMAGet out into wild Florida with a visit to Santa Fe Swamp! The Santa Fe Swamp WMA is a wildlife and environmental conservation area just minutes away from our North Central Florida B&B. Visitors to the conservation area enjoy hiking, biking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, fishing, and more.

There are endless reasons to come and enjoy the rewards of a Florida getaway. One is a chance to get out and see some of the Sunshine State’s rich and resplendent wildlife.

The Starke/Hampton Lake area offers a number of opportunities to do so, with a variety of lakes, state forests, and conservation areas to explore. One such popular location is the Santa Fe Swamp WMA.

What is a WMA?

WMA stands for “Wildlife Management Area.” Florida has more than 5.8 million acres of WMA land across the state. WMA’s are conservation areas overseen by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in partnership with other governmental or private landowners.

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Explore North Florida’s San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park

December 22, 2017 by Corey A Edwards

San Felasco Hammock Preserve State ParkNorth Flordia’s San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park is more than just a great place to hike, bike, and horseback riding. The park is the site of a historic Spanish mission, limestone sinkholes, and one of the few remaining mature forests in Florida.

San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park is well known for its hiking and mountain biking opportunities. In fact, the park’s 30 miles of bike trails have made it one of Florida’s top mountain biking destinations. But that’s just one tiny aspect of this amazing North Florida park.

What many visitors may not realize is that the park has a long and fascinating history – from the ground up!

San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park’s unique karst geology riddles the area with hundreds of limestone pools and sinkholes. Nearby Warren’s Cave provides a dry look under the earth while all the park’s known stone pockets serve as drainage.

This unique karst topography of hills, valleys, and limestone outcrops provides ideal conditions for many species of trees and plants that you’ll not find any farther south. Bobcats, white-tailed deer, gray foxes, turkeys, and a variety of songbirds make the park their home. It’s a wonderful place to see and photograph wildlife and wildflowers.

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