O'Leno State Park
One of Florida's first state parks, O'Leno State Park was first developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.
The park is located along the banks of the scenic Santa Fe River, a tributary of the Suwannee River, and features sinkholes, hardwood hammocks, river swamps and sandhills. As the river courses through the park, it disappears underground and reemerges over three miles away in River Rise Preserve State Park.
O’Leno State Park offers visitors the opportunity to unwind in a natural setting. Visitors can enjoy a day of hiking or biking on the park’s shaded trails. The Santa Fe River is a beautiful spot to launch a canoe or try your hand at fishing along its banks. Pavilions are located along the river’s edge, providing a serene backdrop for picnicking and relaxing. The shady, full-facility campground is the perfect place for a relaxing overnight stay. O’Leno State Park is located on U.S. 441, six miles north of High Springs.
Visitors can enjoy a leisurely bicycling experience along the park's main drive or attempt a more adventurous ride on several of the park’s nature trails. The park offers approximately 11 miles of multi-use trails that can be used for hiking or biking. The O’Leno trail system also connects to the River Rise Preserve State Park trail system, providing an additional 35 miles of multi-use trails for hiking, biking or horseback riding.
Bikes are prohibited on the River Trail (Yellow in O’Leno State Park) and the suspension bridge.
If you are planning on utilizing the trails in River Rise Preserve, please visit the ranger station at O’Leno State Park to obtain a trail map. Please note that portions of the trails may be strenuous or difficult to traverse due to sand, roots, or mud. After heavy, extended rains, portions of the trails may be closed due to flooding. Please contact the ranger station at (386) 454-1853 to inquire about current trail conditions. Helmets are highly recommended for all cyclists and Florida law requires helmets for cyclists age 16 and under.
Bike rentals are available at the O’Leno State Park Ranger Station. Please visit the Ranger Station for details.
O’Leno State Park is a part of the Great Florida Birding Trail and offers visitors ample opportunity to bird watch throughout the park. Bird enthusiasts might expect to see a variety of migrant songbirds, Northern Bobwhite, Eastern Wild Turkey, Barred Owl, Red-headed Woodpecker, Bachman’s Sparrows and many more.
Camping Full Facility
O'Leno has two camping loops (Magnolia and Dogwood) with 61 campsites. Amenities include water, electric, in-ground grill, picnic table and a centrally located restroom. Magnolia loop has a playground for registered campers. A dump station and dumpsters are located off the main park drive across from the Law Enforcement Office.
The size of each site varies; with a maximum RV length of 50ft. Electrical hookups also vary between 30amp and 50amp. Please read each site description on ReserveAmerica to assure that you are reserving a site that can accommodate your needs. Each loop has an accessible site; site 4 in Magnolia loop and site 47 in Dogwood loop.
There is a maximum of 2 vehicles in addition to the camping unit allowed on each site. Additional vehicles will be required to park in the day use area. There is a maximum of two tents per site. Quiet hour is 11:00 p.m.
Hammock camping is permitted in designated sites with the appropriate equipment. Designated hammock camping sites are 33, 34, 37, 39, 40, 42, 50, 52, 53, 54, 55, 57, 58, 59, 61.
Please be advised that the campground loops at O’Leno State Park are compact in nature. The roads are extremely narrow. Additionally, fencing has been installed in Magnolia loop to assist with vegetation management in the buffer zones. As a result, larger recreational vehicles may have to engage in extensive maneuvering when arriving at the park’s back-in campsites.
Well-behaved pets are welcome at O'Leno State Park. Please refer to the Pet Policy for further information.
Reservations: Reservations may be made up to 11 months in advance through ReserveAmerica. Book Online or call (800) 326-3521 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) or TDD (888) 433-0287.
The developed group camp at O’Leno State Park has an overnight occupancy limit of 120 guests. The group camp is located centrally within the park. It is within walking distance of the Upper Santa Fe River, nature trails, a playground, a swimming area, a canoe launch, the Nature Center and the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum.
The following is included in the developed group camp rental:
Three Leader Cabins
Leader 1:2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, kitchen, sleeps 10 (1 full size bed, 4 sets of bunk beds). Grill and picnic table. Accessible ramp, kitchen and restroom.
Infirmary: 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, fireplace, sleeps 4 (1 full size bed, 2 twin beds). Grill and picnic table.
Leader 3: 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, fireplace, sleeps 8 (4 sets of bunk beds). Grill and picnic table. Accessible ramp and restroom.
Thirteen sleeper cabins (each sleep 8 on 4 sets of bunk beds)
Dining hall with a full kitchen (includes tables, chairs, gas oven, dishwasher and utensils). Accessible ramp and restroom.
Basketball hoop, volleyball net and horseshoe court
The buildings in this historic group camp are primitive and do not include heating or air. The three “leader” cabins contain restrooms; however the 13 sleeper cabins only contain bunks and will need to utilize the centralized restrooms. There are wood burning fireplaces located in the Infirmary, leader 3, the dining hall and the recreation hall.
Guests are able to check-out a basketball, a volleyball and horseshoes from the Ranger Station for no additional charge.
Individual camping units (tents, rigs) are not allowed in the group camp. Pets are not allowed in the group camp.
Reservations: The group camp can be rented up to 11 months (to the day) in advance. Reservations will not be taken before 8 a.m. A deposit in the amount of one night’s rental is required at the time of the reservation. Please contact the ranger station (386) 454-1853 for information or to make a reservation.
Viewing the Group Camp: Arrangements can be made to view the group camp Monday – Thursday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Please call (386) 454-1853 for more information. In order to prevent disturbing our guests, we will not allow viewings while the group camp is occupied.
Individual Facility Rental: Reservations for the rental of individual facilities within the group camp will be permitted up to 30 days in advance when the group camp has not been reserved as a unit.
Sweetwater Lake Camping Area is primitive camping at its finest. Located on the banks of Sweetwater Lake, the area includes space for tent camping, a fire circle, and a privy. You must hike approximately 3 miles to the site and pack in all supplies, including water. This requires the camper to arrive at the park three hours before sunset to reach the site before dark. The campground can be sub-divided to accommodate up to 10 people and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Fees for primitive camping are $5.00 (plus tax) per person, per night.
Due to its location, Sweetwater Lake Camping Area is subject to closure based on weather conditions. The area will be closed during extreme drought due to wildfire danger and when the park is experiencing flooding. The site is also closed occasionally when the park is conducting a controlled burn. Please contact the ranger station at (386) 454-1853 for more information and to inquire about the availability of the area.
Sweetwater Lake Primitive Camp Rental Guide
The park offers two primitive group camps. Area 1 can accommodate up to 25 people and offers a small picnic shelter, a ground grill, cold-water showers and a restroom. Area 2 can accommodate up to 50 people and offers two ground grills, two small picnic shelters, cold-water showers and a restroom. Neither camping area has electricity or hot water.
Reservations: Please contact the ranger station at (386) 454-1853 up to 11 months in advance to make reservations for the primitive group camps. Fees are $2 per youth, per night (under 18 years of age) and $5 per adult, per night.
Primitive Group Camp Rental Guide
Explore the Santa Fe River by canoe and observe the area's scenic beauty and wildlife. Paddlers must go up river and return, as canoeing down river is prohibited due to the location of the swimming area and the environmental sensitivity of the River Sink.
Canoe rentals are available at the park ranger station for $3 per hour per canoe or $15 per day per canoe. Call the ranger station at (386) 454-1853 before a trip to the park to ask about water levels on the Santa Fe River. If the water levels are too high (flooding) or too low (exposed rocks), canoeing will not be permitted.
O’Leno State Park is the perfect spot for family reunions! For multiple day events, users may be interested in the park’s Developed Group Camp facilities. Those wanting to come in just for the day may wish to rent one of the park’s two pavilions.
Reservations: Park facilities can be rented up to 11 months (to the day) in advance. A deposit in the amount of one day’s rental is required at the time of the reservation. Please contact the ranger station (386) 454-1853 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. for information or to make a reservation.
Park entry fee is not included in the facility rental price.
The Santa Fe River is an unpredictable fishing spot. Sometimes the fish bite, sometimes they don't. Come on out and take a chance!
All fishing within the park must conform to regulations concerning size, number, method of capture and season. A fishing license may be required. More information is available at the Florida Wildlife Commission’s Fishing in Florida.
Explore the park in a new and challenging way. Experienced Geocachers have requested permission to hide caches containing trinkets, treasures, or information in various places around the park. Please check the Geocaching website for the most current and up-to-date information and clues to locate these caches.
Operation Recreation GeoTour
There are several trails available at O’Leno State Park, ranging in length. Trail maps are available at the ranger station.
The three most popular hiking trails are the River Trail, the Limestone Trail and Parener’s Branch. The Limestone Trail (.61miles/hiking) passes through a hardwood hammock, past a limestone outcrop and then by a pine forest. The River Trail (1.44miles/hiking) takes you along the Santa Fe River to the "River Sink" where the river disappears underground. Turtles are often seen here basking in the sun, and the occasional alligator makes an appearance. Parener’s Branch, (3.69miles/multi-use) the longest of the three, is a looped trail that meanders near several natural sinks which provide a window to the Santa Fe River’s underground travels. An additional 35 miles of multi-use trails (hiking/biking/equestrian) can be found at River Rise Preserve State Park.
It is recommended that you take items such as water, snacks, insect repellant, a trail map, compass and a cell phone out on the trails. Please enjoy the nature trails responsibly and respect the park and wildlife.
Enjoy the park’s picnic area, overlooking the Santa Fe River. Covered shelters are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
During the warmer months, enjoy a refreshing dip in the park’s swimming area, located on a portion of the Santa Fe River. Although the river is tea-colored from the natural tannins, the water is fresh, clean and certainly energizing on a hot summer’s afternoon.
Unfortunately, water levels in the Santa Fe River occasionally cause the swimming area to be closed. The swimming area will be closed if the water levels are too low or too high for safety reasons. Please contact the ranger station at (386) 454-1853 prior to your arrival to inquire about the status of the swimming area.
Keep in mind there is NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY - SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK.
A self-guided cell phone tour is available at O’Leno State Park. Look for the tour stop signs located throughout the park.
Interpretive programs, environmental education programs, guided hikes and scout programs are available upon request for groups. Please call (386) 454-0723 and leave a message for more information or to schedule a program. Calls will be returned Wednesday – Saturday, when the Park Services Specialist is available.
O’Leno State Park offers a scenic spot for walkers, joggers and hikers of all fitness levels. Visitors can choose to walk or jog the paved path along main park drive, take a leisurely stroll through the picnic area or hike one of our several hiking trails. A beach wheelchair is available upon request and can be used to access several day use areas in the park. Please contact (386) 454-1853 or visit the ranger station for more information.
For those looking for a little added excitement, we invite you to participate in the park’s annual Race the Tortoise 5K. The course provides the perfect opportunity for novices to try running, walking or jogging and is open to all abilities.
O’Leno State Park offers plenty of opportunities to view wildlife. Squirrels, rabbits, deer, turkey, and a variety of reptiles and amphibians can be seen in the park. The park is also a popular birding destination.
Visit the park’s Nature Center, open Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., to learn more about the wildlife found in this park.
O'Leno State Park is committed to providing a variety of accessible amenities to all of its visitors. Those amenities include:
Accessible cabin and dining hall within group camp facility
Ramp access to picnic pavilion
Camp O'Leno opened in 1938 as a Florida Forest Service training camp. The purpose of the training camp was to train employees and youth groups interested in forestry. The Forestry Service ran the training camp for two summers before turning the camp over to another division within the Board of Forestry and Parks, the Florida Park Service. Opened as a state park in 1940, O'Leno State Park became one of the original nine state parks in the Florida Park Service.
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Museum
A small museum dedicated to the history of the Civilian Conservation Corps and their involvement in creating this park. It is open daily from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Well-behaved pets are welcome at O'Leno State Park. They must be kept on a 6-foot leash at all times. Pets, with the exception of service animals, are not permitted in our youth areas, primitive campsite, group camp, swimming area or buildings.
O’Leno State Park has two picnic pavilions for rent. The Open Air Pavilion, a historic New Deal Era structure, overlooks the river and seats up to 75 people. A portable ramp is available upon request to provide accessibility to the Open Air Pavilion. Requests to use the ramp can be made at the time the reservation is made or by contacting (386) 454-1853. This pavilion includes a number of picnic tables, benches, electric, and two grills.
The park’s Small Picnic Pavilion is perfect for smaller gatherings, seating up to 16 people. This pavilion includes picnic tables and one grill. This pavilion is centrally located in a picnic area that has a number of single table pavilions available on a first-come, first-served basis. NOTE: This pavilion is located in a flood zone and can occasionally be closed due to flooding.
Reservations: Park facilities can be rented up to 11 months in advance. A deposit in the amount of one day’s rental is required at the time of the reservation. Please contact the ranger station (386) 454-1853 for information or to make a reservation. Park entry fee is not included in the facility rental price.
Playground equipment with swings and slides is centrally located near the picnic area, swimming area and restrooms. An additional playground, located in Magnolia Campground Loop, is available for those camping in the park.
O’Leno State Park has a recycling program. Recycling containers for aluminum and plastic are located in the campground and picnic areas.
Canoe Kayak Launch
Two basic canoe launches are available for canoeists and kayakers, accessing the northern portion of the Santa Fe River. One is located within the park, accessible from the main parking lot. Paddlers must go up river and return when utilizing this launch, as canoeing down river is prohibited due to the location of the swimming area and the environmental sensitivity of the River Sink. The second launch is accessible from Bible Camp Road, located off of Sprite Road, north of the entrance of O’Leno State Park. Paddlers entering at this point may explore up stream outside of the park and downstream, into the park as far as the swimming area.
Launches are subject to closure based on water levels and will be closed when the river is flooded or when water levels are extremely low. Please contact the ranger station at (386) 454-1853 for more information and to inquire about the availability of the launches prior to your visit.
O'Leno State Park is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media