The plan was to stop at Cedar Key on my way to the next camp. However, when I got to the turn off I was already running behind schedule and it was threatening rain. So, I continued on to Manatee Springs State Park.
I pulled in just after 2pm and easily got Tardis setup. This camp was a layover before a visit with my artist friend in Gainesville just an hour away. We had lunch and then spent some time in the Loft art studio. She splits her time between on location plein air and studio work. Her landscape paintings of the “Real Florida” reflect the sensibilities of a native with a love for the land.
After setting up and having lunch, I went out for a walk. A young deer greeted me, and wasn’t concerned at all with the barking dog in the next site. I had an end spot with only woods to view from two sides which made it ideal. It rained a bit every afternoon, and the temps were hot and humid so I was thankful for the air conditioning.
It was a short walk through the woods to the spring which bubbles up forming a large pool that is ideal for swimming and snorkeling. It flows about a quarter mile into the Suwannee River which can be reached via a boardwalk through a cypress swamp. Unfortunately I saw no manatees in the crystal clear water.
The park had a deep woods feel and highlighted the natural features well. There were pavilions and a large picnic table area. Swimming and canoe-kayak rentals, snack bar, restrooms and showers, boardwalks, and lots of trails. A packed dirt pad of good size and fairly level, water-electric, 3G internet with 2 bars was sometimes weak. It was a good 3 day stay for $32.70 with tax and senior discount.
Camp: Manatee Springs SP
Scene: Open woods, trails, spring, river