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Overview

Bisected by Florida’s original pioneer pathway, the Bellamy Road, O’Leno State Park sits north of Gainesville along the peculiar path of the Santa Fe River. A popular getaway for paddlers, the Santa Fe does something truly strange through the heart of this park — it simply disappears, reappearing for short stretches as ponds that form windows into the river as it flows beneath the earth for several miles. One of Florida’s earliest state parks, O’Leno State Park showcases the architectural style of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which built its sturdy cabins, picnic pavilions, and a suspension bridge that remains to this day. Deeply shaded ...

Bisected by Florida’s original pioneer pathway, the Bellamy Road, O’Leno State Park sits north of Gainesville along the peculiar path of the Santa Fe River. A popular getaway for paddlers, the Santa Fe does something truly strange through the heart of this park — it simply disappears, reappearing for short stretches as ponds that form windows into the river as it flows beneath the earth for several miles. One of Florida’s earliest state parks, O’Leno State Park showcases the architectural style of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which built its sturdy cabins, picnic pavilions, and a suspension bridge that remains to this day. Deeply shaded by hardwood forests, the park’s two campgrounds are popular getaways for families. A hiking trail that traces the path of the Santa Fe River connects the River Sink near the heart of recreational activities by the campgrounds to where the river emerges in full force within adjacent River Rise State Park, but there are shorter nature trails as well. Equestrians can enter the park at the Bellamy Road trailhead to canter along the forest roads that extend for more than a dozen miles.

Sandra Friend
About the Expert

Sandra Friend has written 12 books about Florida, including the Explorer's Guide (Countryman Press) series to Florida.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Located in central Florida about 25 miles north of Gainesville.
  • Research: Wikipedia
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
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Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Year round