Friday, March 2, 2012
Date: 3/2/2012 – 3/4/2012
Location: Ocala National Foresr
GPS Coordinates: 29.076640, -81.583269
Many years ago (before kids!), Julie and I used to do a lot of camping around the state of Florida. We would frequently camp at the many campgrounds in the Ocala National Forest since it was relatively close to Gainesville. Probably the most visited campsite for us in this area was Hopkins Prairie, which was a location with no water or electricity at the sites. There used to be a “lake” that surrounded this area where we used to canoe, but the water level is down quit a bit and now the area is pretty much dry.
Since we now have a trailer (no more sleeping on the ground for us), we decided to give the Ocala National Forest another try. It has only been 25+ years since our last visit. We took off Friday after work, but being in the early spring, the days were still short and we didn’t get to the campground until after sunset. This would be our first time setting up in the dark. There are no hookups at the sites, so we had to take on water first and then locate our site. With a little difficulty backing into our site we finally got situated.
This campground is nice and has a beach and canoe/kayak launch on the Alexander Spring run. Unfortunately, we didn’t bring our kayaks, so couldn’t check out this river. There are a few short hiking trails, but nothing too strenuous.
Since it had been many years since we had been to Ocala National Forest, we decided to take a ride around and check out some of the campsites and do a walk down memory lane for the places we had been before. By the end of the day we had decided that there were not many campgrounds that we would be interested in coming back to camp at. They really can’t compare to the Florida State parks.
We also did a long hike at Farles Prarie (see map below) where the Florida Trail crosses through the forest. This was a good hike along some wetlands and ponds. But be careful in what roads you take to get there.Most roads are sand and several require four wheel drive. We almost made the mistake of taking a road where we would have definitely gotten stuck. We did make that mistake many years ago in this area and it took us hours to dig our way out.
Our Review of the campground:
Campground: Alexander Springs
Campground Website: http://www.forestcamping.com/dow/southern/ocalcmp.htm#alexander%20springs
Site Number: 61
Price: $21 night
Date visited: 3/2/2012 - 3/4/2012
Rating (1 = low, 5 = high)
Campsite size: 4
Campsite space between sites: 4 (varies by site)
Campsite privacy between sites: 4 (varies by site)
Campsite level: 4
Campsite parking: paved pad
Campfire permitted: yes. Fire ring on each site
Campsite picnic table: metal
Campground Facilities: 3.5
Campground access to hiking: 4
Campground access to water (kayaking, fishing, swimming, etc): 5
Campground access to biking: 4
Overall Campground rating: 4
Notes: Campground is very nice. There is a road that runs parallel to the campground and some car noise can be heard at some of the sites. Especially site #61 (our site). There's not a lot of traffic, but car noise can be heard.
Alexander Springs Run
The hike we did on Farles Prairie
Florida Trail - Farles Prairie at EveryTrail