Meandering at O’Leno

The cloudy morning stayed cool, and we meandered rather than hiked the trail, taking our time and enjoying the solitude and nature. Of course we stopped for the occasional photo. We find nearly everything crowded in Florida this year, traffic much heavier than we have ever seen in our 25+ years of calling this home, crowds of people everywhere, and even campgrounds never before filled at capacity and turning people away. This early morning hike before anyone else discovered our refuge provided exactly what we needed.

The River Trail follows the Santa Fe River to the point that the river disappears underground at the Santa Fe Sink. It flows underground for three miles, and resurfaces at River Rise Park flowing another 35 miles to the Suwanee. The area of underground flow contains many underwater caves, and on land it makes a natural bridge which Florida’s first federal highway, Old Bellamy Road, crossed. We walked to the sink, which looked like a large green pool. Turtles lined the fallen tree branches taking what little sun broke through the clouds.

O’Leno State Park where we followed the River Trail encompasses the now gone town of Leno. The park name of O’Leno is believed to be short for Old Leno. On our returned hike we explored some of the building and the bridge, built by the CCC during the Great Depression.

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