Here we go again to one of our favorite parts of Florida, on the lower part of Suwanee River. This time we tried the levy county side and set our sights on Manatee Springs State Park. We did not take the dogs on this trip as my son was on spring break and took care of the dogs at home.
Our route was the same as when we went to Yellow Jacket Campground three months ago. We took all the beautiful back roads, highway 98, all the way to Chiefland then made a left 6 miles to the entrance of the park.
We registered at the Ranger Station and started to drive the 1.5 miles to our campsite. The park description said we would encounter wildlife and I was looking forward to seeing them. Along the way, we saw a couple of deer standing next to the road, and that was just the start.
The campsite was large and rustic, without any concrete or gravel. The ground was clear and somewhat level, and our spot had full hookups for electric, water, and sewer. We were in Magnolia # 11.
There were woods behind us and enough room and foliage on the sides for privacy. We had a picnic table and a fire ring which also doubled as a bar-b-que. By the time we were set up, we had at least five deers foraging near us. Our area had many squirrels around; we also encountered a few raccoons, one possum, and several different birds. That was all on the first day.
The next day we took a short hike to the Spring, which we found out was the largest single spring flowing into the Suwanee River. The water was crystal clear. Across from the kayak launch were three Manatees swimming and playing and not far from the Manatees was a baby alligator resting on the fallen tree on the shore of the spring.
The Raccoon The Squirrel
We also enjoyed a short hike to the Catfish Hotel, which is a popular scuba diving spot. On the trip back we encountered more deer, squirrel, and raccoon.
A Side trip to Cedar Key
The next day we had planned to go on a guided pontoon boat tour of the river. Unfortunately, they could not accommodate us; my advice is book ahead of time. We drove to Cedar Key ( approximately 35 miles), the drive was smooth with almost no traffic.
Our day in Cedar Key was close to perfect. The weather, the tour boat and the restaurant we had lunch were all the best you could ask for. There was a lot of interesting keys that we stopped at during the boat tour which was about 2 hours for $29.00 pp. There were 5 people on that 20 ft pontoon including the captain. The experience was phenomenal for an inexpensive last minute trip.
By the time we left the following day, we saw an alligator trapper collecting the stray alligator.