Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park is one of Florida’s oldest state parks. It was developed in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. You can read more about the CCC here: https://www.history.com/topics/great-depression/civilian-conservation-corps. They helped build many of Florida’s state parks from 1933 through the beginning of World War II.
O’Leno was Florida’s eleventh state park, established in 1940. Like many of the original state parks, it was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. This park is full of history and natural beauty. Some of the best hiking trails in Florida can be found here, particularly when combined with neighboring River Rise Preserve State Park’s trails.
Hontoon Island is a sweet little 1,650 acre state park located on the St. John’s River, six miles west of Deland in Florida. We visited in mid-October and had the whole place practically to ourselves. We arrived on a late Sunday afternoon. There were several families enjoying the day use area, fishing and playing on the playground. By Monday morning, the place was pretty much deserted.
A trip through Florida’s Big Bend area and into the panhandle is like a trip back in time. Urban sprawl has yet to infect this remote area of the state. Taking a drive across the 220 mile long Big Bend Scenic Byway will take you through miles of longleaf pine forests and along fabulously undeveloped white, sandy coastline. I didn’t know before I went, but apparently a detailed brochure exists to help you navigate this incredible highway and really take in all it has to offer. It can be found here: http://www.floridabigbendscenicbyway.org/sites/default/files/media/docs/Byway-Guide-20120319.pdf
A drive down the scenic byway is one of many things we did while we were in the area. We visited several state parks within a couple of hours of Ochlockonee, but here we’ll focus on this one incredible state park. I realized I was pronouncing it all wrong when a kind ranger gave me a tip to say it right. He said it’s O-Clock-Knee. Now you know.
Welcome to Ochlockonee! Driving down route 319 near the tiny town of Sopchoppy, you’ll end up here at the park. If you’re planning to camp here for awhile, it may be helpful to know that the nearest Walmart is about forty minutes away in Crawfordville. The nearest store is a Dollar General, about fifteen minutes away. There really is nothing around here!