(Last Updated On: January 3, 2023)
Park sign for west entrance at River Rise Preserve State Park

Park sign for west entrance at River Rise Preserve State Park. Photo: Park Facebook Page.

Discover where the Santa Fe River ‘Rises’ while surrounded by ancient oaks, pines and hickory trees, 30 miles north of Gainesville. This picturesque park, located in High Springs, Florida, is a large nature preserve adjacent to O’Leno State Park.

The Santa Fe River descends underground inside O’Leno State Park and travels for about 3 miles before reemerging inside River Rise Preserve State Park.

Guests enjoy visiting this peaceful area to paddle along the Santa Fe River, explore the trails (by foot, bike or horseback), fish, bird watch, and picnic. A primitive equestrian camping area is located inside the park and more camping areas are available for guests within the adjacent O’Leno State Park.

Activities

Spend a relaxing day inside this serene Florida state park. River Rise Preserve State Park features 35 miles of trails, shaded picnic areas, access to 2 kayak launches, and an equestrian campground. O’Leno State Park, right next door, offers more trails, a swimming area, a Nature Center, museum, amphitheater and campgrounds.

Here are some of the many activities that you can do during your visit to River Rise Preserve State Park:

Boating at River Rise Preserve State Park

Paddle along the picturesque Santa Fe River during your visit to River Rise Preserve State Park. Two canoe launches are available. One is accessible from inside the park, but guests are only allowed to paddle upstream and back because of the swimming area (inside O’Leno State Park) and the fragile environment near the sink.

The other launch is located at the north entrance of O’Leno State Park. Be aware that these launches may close due to water fluctuations.

Hiking at River Rise Preserve State Park

Explore the trails inside River Rise Preserve State Park. The park’s trails cover more than 35 miles and are open to hikers, bikers and horseback riders.

Trails wind throughout the thick forest of oaks, pines and hickory and lead out to the ‘River Rise’, the area where the Santa Fe River reemerges from its journey underground. Discover this natural land bridge that lies between the sink and the rise and imagine how many people have crossed this area throughout history.

Here are some of the trails at River Rise Preserve State Park:

  • The Yellow Trail – An easy 3 mile sandy trail that leads out to where the Santa Fe River rises to the surface after traveling underground for 3 miles. Great trail for viewing wildlife as you walk along a swampy area surrounded by oaks, hickory and pine trees.
  • Sweetwater Trail – Easy 7.6 mile sandy trail loop through the flatlands and along the dunes.

Biking at River Rise Preserve State Park

Bring your mountain bike and enjoy a peaceful ride along some or all of the 35 miles of multi-use trails inside River Rise Preserve State Park. Some sections of the trails may be more difficult because of hills, roots, sand and mud. All riders under the age of 16 are required to wear a helmet.

Fishing at River Rise Preserve State Park

Pick up a Florida fishing license and pack up your fishing gear, you may catch redbreast sunfish or pugnacious spotted sunfish along the banks of the Santa Fe River during your visit.

Birding at River Rise Preserve State Park

Bring your binoculars and bird list, both River Rise Preserve State Park and adjacent O’Leno State Park are part of the Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail. You can expect to see many species of native and migratory birds during your visit here. A few you may see include bald eagles, Red-headed woodpecker, Northern Bobwhite, Barred Owl and Bachman’s Sparrows.

Nature and Wildlife at River Rise Preserve State Park

Visit this serene wildlife preserve for a chance to see white-tailed deer, squirrels, rabbits, wild turkey, snakes, and many species of birds. Guests are encouraged to stop by the Nature Center inside O’Leno State Park to learn more about local fauna and flora. The Nature Center is open Friday through Sunday 10am to 2pm.

Pets at River Rise Preserve State Park

Pets are allowed in designated areas at River Rise Preserve and adjacent O’Leno State Park. Pets must be supervised and kept on a hand held leash no longer than 6 feet.

Camping at River Rise Preserve State Park

River Rise Preserve State Park has a primitive equestrian camping area for guests traveling with their horses. The camping area has space for up to 40 tents and horse trailers and also features a 20-stall barn. Restrooms, showers and two campfire circles are located in this area. A negative Coggins report is required for each horse.

Camping Near River Rise Preserve State Park

O’Leno State Park, adjacent to River Rise Preserve State Park has modern and primitive campsites, and a developed camp for organized groups. The 61 modern campsites have water and electric connections plus a picnic table and grill.
Bathhouses and a playground are located nearby.

The primitive area lies along the shores of Sweetwater Lake and requires a 3 mile hike to reach. A fire circle and non flushing toilet are included at the site but water must be carried in.

The developed group camp can accommodate up to 120 people and features 3 leader cabins, 13 sleeper cabins, 2 bathhouses, a dining hall with a full kitchen, a recreation hall, a craft building, and a concession building.

The buildings in this camp were built during the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. There is not any heating or cooling and only the leader cabins have restrooms.

Park Location

River Rise Preserve State Park
373 US 27
High Springs, FL 32643
Phone: 386.454.1853

Website

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at River Rise Preserve State Park: