(Last Updated On: December 24, 2022)
Santa Fe River, looking south from the bridge in O'Leno State Park.

Santa Fe River, looking south from the bridge in O’Leno State Park. Photo: Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Established in 1935, O’leno State Park is one of the oldest state parks in Florida.

Nestled on the Santa Fe River, not far from the town of High Springs, the park features a diverse landscape of sandhills, river swamps, sinkholes and hardwood hammocks.

One of its coolest attributes is a natural land bridge which is formed by the disappearance of the river into a sinkhole and remains hidden for over three miles before reemerging.

For those who enjoy outdoor recreational activities the park provides plenty of opportunities. This includes paddling, swimming, fishing, hiking and biking. It is also a noted spot for birding and picnicking too.

Geocachers can also have their fun at O’Leno, while campers get the choice of 54 RV and tent sites that come with connections for water and electricity across two modern and well-equipped campgrounds.

The park is situated about a 75 minute drive from Jacksonville and close to two hours from Tallahassee.

Activities

Here are some of the many things you can see and do during your time there.

Paddling at O’Leno State Park

The beautiful Santa Fe River attracts many visitors with its opportunities for canoeing, kayaking and paddling.

These activities need to take place upriver, to avoid swimmers in the designated areas. As well as the River Sink’s environmental sensitivity further downstream.

If you did not bring any of these watercraft to the park with you, they can be hired out at the main office on an hourly or per day basis.

Swimming at O’Leno State Park

Within the river there is a specially designated section which enables guests to safely swim.

This is situated well away from the kayaks, canoes and SUP and provides a refreshing haven during the hotter months of the year.

Due to its natural tannins, the water has a tea colored appearance. But don’t let this put you off as it is very clean and fresh.

Fishing at O’Leno State Park

Fishing on the section of the Santa Fe River that resides in the park is a bit hit and miss. Sometimes fish bite and other times they are nowhere to be seen.

If you do catch something, it is likely to be bass, sunfish, bluegill or catfish.

When fishing you may need a license. So it is best to check with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. You will also need to adhere to all rules and regulations pertaining to fishing at the park.

Hiking and Geo Seeking at O’Leno State Park

Throughout O’Leno State Park there are several trails you may wish to explore.

These trails differ in length and degrees of difficulty, but they all showcase the park’s various ecosystems and breathtaking landscape.

Some of the most popular trails you can tackle are the Limestone Trail, Parener’s Branch and the River Trail.

If you can only manage one during your time at the park make it to the River Trail. This guides you to the spectacular ‘River Sink’ along the Santa Fe River on a journey of 1.5 miles.

On some of these trails, you are likely to encounter geocachers on a treasure hunt. This is a very popular activity as there are several caches hidden within O’Leno.

Should you want to find them, you will need to visit the relevant geo seeking website to download their location coordinates to your handheld GPS device.

Picnicking at O’Leno State Park

With its picturesque scenery the park is a noted spot for picnics.

There are several dedicated picnic areas dotted along the Santa Fe River. Many of which have tables, shade and grills.

Please note, the ones that are covered cannot be reserved, so are only available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The consumption of alcohol is strictly prohibited in all areas of the park. Visitors are also requested to dispose of your trash appropriately and tidily.

Birding at O’Leno State Park

As O’Leno State Park is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail it is renowned for being an exceptional destination for birding.

Throughout your time at the park you should see a range of permanent residents and migratory species. This includes the likes of Bachman’s sparrows, eastern wild turkey, red-headed woodpecker, northern bobwhite, migrant songbirds and barred owl.

You should be able to pick up a full list of the different species you can see at the main office.

Pets at O’Leno State Park

Dogs are allowed to accompany you at O’Leno State Park Campground.

However, they must be kept on a leash of no more than 6 feet in length at all times when outside your vehicle. They must also be well behaved and cleaned up afterwards.

Some other conditions may also apply. So to determine what they are it is worth contacting the park’s main office for further clarification.

Camping at O’Leno State Park

For those who want to stay for a few nights the park has two main campgrounds. These are the Magnolia and Dogwood areas.

If you have a large RV you will want to stay at The Magnolia Campground. This has 27 sites available, all of which come with connections for water and either a 30-amp or 50-amp electricity.

Each site also comes with their own picnic table and in-ground grill. Amenities within it include a bathhouse, playground, dump station and dumpsters.

Over at the Dogwood campground you will find another 27 sites set up for smaller RVs and tents. These also come with the same facilities and amenities as the Magnolia site.

At both campgrounds you should be able to get decent cell phone coverage.

Park Location

O’Leno State Park
410 SE Oleno Park Road
High Springs, FL 32643
Phone: 386.454.1853

Website
Reservations

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at O’Leno State Park: