Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Ochlockonee River State Park

June 28, 2009
We are staying 3 nights at Ochlockonee River State Park. It is in the Eastern Florida Panhandle, south of Tallahassee, near the town of Sopchoppy.
This is an older park and could use some updating but we like it. It’s a scrub area with a lot of pine trees and Palmettos. There are some Live Oaks at the campground.
When you first pull into the campground there is a narrow drive way with a gate and a code box right in the middle of the lane. Sitting in our motor home, it looked way too narrow for us but we knew we weren’t the first motor home to enter, so we slowly went thru. We made it without scratching the sides but it was way too narrow! That’s the first thing that needs updating.
The campground is also in need of updating. There are 30 water and electric sites. Many of which are too small for the larger RV’s of today. The sites are mostly pretty with privacy between the sites but some are small with low hanging branches.
We are staying in site #16. It was recommended by the ranger as it was large enough and had shade. With the 98 degree days, we needed all the shade we could get. It’s wide, shady and has privacy on both sides. The only problem is the water and electric are on the wrong side. We had to use an extension for the electric but the water was okay. It appears that most of the sites have the water and electric on the wrong side. I don’t know who designed it, but that’s the way it is.
Our criteria for the perfect campsite is: pretty, privacy, easy to get into, large, and this time of year, shady.
Here is our campsite review: 5 Star is the best
#1 No, small but would do in a pinch
#4 Only in a pinch
#5 In a Pinch, odd layout
#6 Do-able but no shade, large a 4*
#7 No shade but do-able in a pinch
#8 Large, NO shade, private, easy
#16 5+*..large, shady, wide, easy, backs up to riverP1010169
#17 Inner loop, pretty, shady, easy, large but on inner loop which we don’t normally like
#18 5+*, private, shady large, easy once you back down a narrow roadway.
#19 6*, private, on the river
#20 concrete pad, right by bathhouse, shady, wide, 4*
#21 Easy, large, shady, 4*
#22 Inner look, ok, 4*, wide, easy, shady
#23 4*, easy,
#24 Concrete pad, easy, wide bath house is closeP1010170
#25 3.5 *, ok in a pinch
#30 3.5* ok, no view, easy, large, close to dump which stunk! No smell at this site, this time

The other sites were either too small, too close to the trash dump or low hanging branches. We are a 32 foot motor home and these are the sites we could use.
We were here a while before I noticed there was a very large river right behind us! The Ochlockonee River is very wide and fast moving here. There is a lovely white sand beach right behind our campsite. We spent a few minutes sitting by the river with the cool breeze off the water.
P1010180 P1010167 There is a short walk from the RV to the water but you can easily see the river from the campsite.
This is a great place if you want to boat, canoe or kayak. Our site # 16 sits right on the river. There are steps leading down to the small sandy beach area. There is a canoe/kayak launch in the park along with a nice swimming area. This is in the day use area. We like this park a lot though due to the close proximity of the water and the abundant wildlife. As long as you get a good campsite you are ok.
We were inside last night when we got a warning from the camp host. Evidently there was a tornado watch/warning out for this area and people were advised to take cover. He said we could take shelter at the bath house. We decided to take the 2 cats (Squeaky and Socks) and go down there. There were about 4 couples there and one dog. The rain and lighting were pretty strong but no tornado’s. We stayed a half hour or and came back to the RV. The weather started up again but didn’t get too severe. Needless to say dinner was put on hold and we had cold pizza and a sandwich. Al got up hungry! We had eggs, cantaloupe, sausage and toast. Gotta keep Al full.
There are a lot of rivers right near the park. There is the Ochlockonee River, which leads directly to the Gulf of Mexico. The SopChoppy River is near, Buckhorn Creek, Dead River, Little Tide Creek, Otter Creek. There are the large rivers as well as the slow easy to paddle creeks. We’re also not too far from the coast. Al wants to make a kayak trip over to St Vincent Island. It is a wildlife refuge that you can only get to by boat.
We took a kayak trip today. We launched at the park boat ramp and headed to the right. It was a marsh grass type area. It was not the Ochlockonee River. We figured we were on Little Tide Creek. There was one large house on stilts and not much else. We saw one butterfly, one bird and nothing else. It was getting hot and there wasn’t much of a breeze. It may have run into Sopchoppy River but we didn’t get that far. There are a lot of rivers in this area but this wasn’t our favorite. We came back to the RV showered and took a nap. It’s too hot for much else.
There is a lot of wildlife here too. We have seen white Squirrels as well as a LOT of regular gray/brown squirrels. Red Headed Wood Pecker, numerous other birds include Blue Birds, Mocking Birds, Doves, Brown Thrashers, Red Cockaded Woodpeckers. The deer are friendly and not skittish. We saw 3 this morning in the campground right at a campsite.
These are true white squirrels. They are not Albinos. We only saw 2 at the day use area this time. When we were here before we saw quite a few. We’re hoping they will keep breeding continue to be here. We made a short trip into the town of Sopchoppy today and actually saw one there, so I guess they are all around this area. Al spotted one at the campground too, so I guess there are still quite a few around.
The deer here are friendly and not at all skittish. We went for a drive this morning looking for them and came back and found 3 in the campground.
P1010267 Tomorrow is our last day here. We decided to forget about going all the way to St Vincent’s Island. It’s a long way from here, very hot and the weather is iffy. We saw the Sopchoppy River on the way into town today. It looks like a pretty, shady, windy river. We intend to make a short morning kayak trip there.
Tuesday we got up and made a trip into the town of Sopchoppy, thinking we may try a kayak trip. We found out Sopchoppy means winding river in Indian. The Sopchoppy certainly is a winding black and very pretty river. The weather was a little iffy and we didn’t want to get caught out on the river with rain and lightning. We instead decided to go to a buffet for lunch.
We found a little city park with campground and a boat ramp. I will go into it later. It was a nice place.
We went back to the campground, rested and read for a while then decided to put the kayaks in in the late afternoon. We went over to the youth camp in the park and put in there. You are able to drive right up to the shore to easily launch the kayaks. It wasn’t quite as hot and there was a very light breeze. We launched and went to the left which was going with the current. It was a nice easy paddle, but we knew going back would be harder. We were in the “Dead River.” It lived up to it’s name…there was very little wildlife, except for the deer that was at the camp wanting a drink of water. The tide affects the river,but we don’t know which way the river runs so didn’t know if the tide was coming or going. We went back the opposite direction and headed to the portion of the river where the Ochlockonee River meets the Sopchoppy. There was pretty good current so we didn’t go too far. Our entire trip was 2 miles according to our handy GPS. We didn’t see much wild life but it was an ok trip.
We found a “scenic drive” in the park. You go through a pine forest where there are a lot of nests of the rare Red Cockaded Woodpecker. A lot of the trees are marked with a white stripe and there are little tags with numbers on them. We’re guessing there were nests there though we didn’t see the cavities' on some trees.
Lots of deer!

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