Thursday, July 9, 2009


This week is a little mixed up. I was off today, like usual, but I traded a co-worker Friday for Saturday. I usually use Friday as a day to answer questions because I am not at work, so I will go ahead and do that today. I apologize for the late post (I think its awesome that there are some of you that come by to read each day, sorry to keep you waiting) it has been stormy again today and the internet connection has been spotty.
So, I didn't get any questions last week on the Reflections page. If you think of anything you would like to know, post in the comments and I will answer next week. I will try to anticipate what you might want to know and I will give you all a little tour this week. I know that some of you readers have been to the park and some have not, so this won't be news to everyone, but it might help keep us all on the same page.
I don't have a map of the park, but I have a lot of photos and hopefully I can give you all a mental picture of the place. The park has just over 80 acres. It is a big, long rectangle with one short side on the river and the other near a county road and private property. The long edges border another state agency's land and private property. When first entering the gate, you pass our entrance sign and the flags. A short distance after the flags is the honor station where visitors take an envelope, insert their park fee and drop the envelope into a metal pipe (called the iron ranger). A tear-off slip on the envelope is then hung on the rear view mirror of the vehicle so that we know that the fee was paid. After a curvy, pleasant, one half mile drive under a canopy of oak trees you will find out parking lot. From the parking lot, you can see the restrooms on the left and the picnic area on the right. Straight ahead is a switchback, concrete walkway (frog town) which takes you down the hill to the spring dock which is the main swimming and diving area. The spring is a first magnitude spring pumping out an average of 90 million gallons of water each day. The deepest area is usually around 70 feet deep. The spring run is about 100 yards long and flows out into the Suwannee River. Within the spring run, just before the river, lies the remains of the civil war era steamship, Madison.
If you walked through the picnic area to the right, you would be able to access the 1/2 mile nature trail through the woods or walk towards the office and the cabin. The cabin, built in the late 1950's by a previous land owner is now our visitor center. It has a large picture window that looks down from the top of the hill onto the spring. It is one of the best views in the park. Across from the visitor center is the office and shop in the same building. The office was also built by a previous land owner. She was the second occupant of the cabin and she loved animals. She would take in stray dogs and she had so many that she needed a dog kennel to keep them all. She built the office as a dog kennel and it was later converted into the office and shop area. It has 4 rooms in total. One is the office, two are for storage, and one is where we keep tools and have some workspace.
Behind the visitor center is a trail that takes you down the hill to the river. It has a small look out area to view the Madison wreckage in the spring run and then the walkway carries you to the river dock and the floating dock. This area is also a second entrance to the park for visitors in boats.
That is the extent of the main visitor area of the park. There are some other areas which are not commonly used by visitors. A large, 14 stall horse barn was on the property before it was state owned. Our long term plan is to acquire more land which would make equestrian trails and an equestrian camp ground possible. For now, the barn area is used for storage and we allow scout groups and youth groups to camp in the area around the barn.
Both the barn and the ranger residence, my house, are accessed by the service road that runs through a back area of the park. My house is far enough in the park that I don't really have neighbors and rarely experience neighbor noise, but it is far enough from the main visitor area that I can pretend to leave work and go home in the evenings.
So that is the quick tour of the park. If you want to see more, come for a visit!!


Miner Fan said...

How many walking trails do you have? Last visit the monster mosquitos kept me from exploring teh walking trails.

Ranger Amy said...

We have one 1/2 mile nature trail. It is frequented by monster mosquitoes, but they have dissipated quite a bit since you were here last. Right now it is just a trail, but I have been working with a boy scout group to get some information out there. They marked off the appropriate distances for interpretive panels for me. I ordered signs for the things that people see along the trail at those points and now the scouts are trying to find time to come back and install the signs for me.