It’s getting hot out there. Hiking in Florida in the summertime can be a dangerous idea if you’re not prepared. There are so many elements that seem as though they’re out to get you. It’s alligator mating season from April through June. Lovebugs abound in April and October, though they’re just annoying and not dangerous. Yellow flies start becoming super annoying around the middle of May, and their bites hurt! Mosquitos are quite wide awake now and they’ll want to have a snack on your blood when you hike in shady, damp areas. Okay, actually they’ll want to snack on you no matter where you hike in summer in Florida. Noseeums swarm and attack with their teeny tiny blood sucking mouths in any area close to the shore, particularly at dawn and dusk. We have mad thunderstorms just about every afternoon. We have truly earned the title of Lightning Capital of the World. All of that, and I haven’t even mentioned the risk of sunburn, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Ochlockonee River State Park
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!