Explore Ochlockonee River State Park

by: Doug Alderson, Outdoor & Nature Expert

Sunrise Along Lower Ochlockonee RiverOchlockonee River State Park, just south of Sopchoppy along Highway 319, is the perfect setting to walk along high river banks under arching live oaks and to walk (or ride) a scenic drive through some of the best maintained pine flatwoods in the state. The red-cockaded woodpecker, an endangered species, is in relative abundance here along with an array of songbirds, deer and white squirrels (a color variant of the gray squirrel). Bobcat, fox and the occasional bear can also be seen.

Ochlockonee River State Park pond

Mornings and evenings are prime times to spot wildlife. It's amazing how the deer just seem to magically appear near sunset. This means that camping at the park is the best method for wildlife viewing since the park closes at sunset. The park has a full-service campground along with a youth camp that can be used by non-youth groups if not occupied.

For the water lover, the state park is perfectly situated at the confluence of the Ochlockonee and Dead Rivers. There is a maze of side streams and tidal creeks to fish and explore and numerous possibilities exist for creating paddling loop trips. Obtain a map at the park gate and bring along a Top Spot map or other maps. A GPS unit wouldn't hurt either. Canoes can be rented at the park and a boat ramp is available for motorized craft.

Most of the lands and marshes bordering the park are part of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, so there is much undeveloped territory to explore. A friend recently fished for redfish around the park and caught some nice largemouth bass instead, so both fresh and saltwater species can be caught in the brackish waters. Bring some binoculars for the bird life, bug repellant, and an adventurous spirit. For more information, log onto http://www.floridastateparks.org/ochlockoneeriver/default.cfm.   

 

Doug Alderson. Outdoor & Nature Expert from Tallahassee, FL Author:

Doug Alderson

Outdoor & Nature Expert

Bio:

Doug Alderson is the author of several books, including Waters Less Traveled: Exploring Florida's Big Bend Coast (University Press of Florida 2005), The Vision Keepers: Walking for Native Americans and the Earth (Quest Books 2007), New Dawn for the Kissimmee River: Orlando to Okeechobee by Kayak (University Press of Florida, 2009), Encounters with Florida's Endangered Wildlife (University Press of Florida, 2010), and his newest book, Wild Florida Waters: Exploring the Sunshine State by Kayak and Canoe (Earthways Press, 2011). Additionally, his articles and photographs have been featured in magazines such as Sea Kayaker, Coast and Kayak, Wildlife Conservation, American Forests, Sierra, Mother Earth News and Shaman's Drum. He has won several state and national awards for his books and magazine features. Doug also works as the paddling trails coordinator for the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails.

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