So, the camping season is going to be upon us before we know it. Among other things, I'd like to try and get together a Summer's Last Gasp Hang somewhere here in northern Florida.
I intend on shooting for the weekend of 10/12-15/2012 (that's Friday to Monday), somewhere within 100 miles of Gainesville.
The options I've come up with so far are as follows:
Option 1: Black Creek Ravines conservation area, up near Middleburg. Google Maps location and trail map. This spot has two campsites; one of which is a group campsite if we wind up with more than a few folks who want to come on out. It has ready water, quite a bit of elevation change for Florida, and even has a small area where we could swim if we wanted. There are about four or five miles of trail in the area, all of which are really beautiful.
Option 2: Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve conservation area, just outside of Gainesville. This one would be great if folks want to do a bike & hang; it's only about two miles off of the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail, which is a rails-to-trails conversion. Trail guide and Google Maps location. It has about three or four miles of trail inside of the reserve, with more located within about ten minutes' drive along the Hawthorne Trail.
Option 3: Newnan's Lake conservation area. I've not been to this one personally, but I've been told it's a beautiful site. There are three tracts to this one: the North Tract (where the campsite is), the South Tract (where the boat ramp is), and the Hatchet Creek tract (where there's a more wilderness-oriented hiking trail). All of those links are to trail maps. Google Maps location. Not sure if the lake is canoable or 'yakable, but the boat ramp argues that it is. I'll double-check with the SJWM folks to be sure if interest in this location occurs.
Option 4: Rice Creek conservation area. The "Rice Creek Hilton" is here, and the Florida Trail runs through the conservation area. Trail guide and Google Maps location.
Option 5: Hidden Pond, in Ocala National Forest. This is one of the most-camped sites in the forest, and there's a reason why: it's beautiful and in the middle of the Juniper Prairie Wilderness, along the Florida Trail. There's swimming in the pond there (it's spring-fed), and plenty of hang sites to choose from. There are two trail heads within easy hiking distance (~3 miles), one located at Juniper Springs (it's $12.72 per vehicle to park per night here, but it's behind a gate) and one located at the Pat's Island trailhead (no official site, but here's the Google Maps location; it's free to park, but there's no security whatsoever).
Option 6: Fanning Springs State Park. There's a primitive site there, where the cost to camp is only $5.00. However, you'll have to bike, hike, or 'yak in. There's swimming, and with the pilot program, we should be able to hang there. Google maps location and park map.
Option 7: Ichetucknee Springs campground. It's about an half-mile up the road from the north entrance to the park, where the actual springs are located. It's a beautiful campground, and there are about three miles of hiking trail inside the park proper. The sites there are $10 for a primitive site and $2 a head per night extra beyond two people. The park is $2.00 per head for folks coming in via foot or bike and $6.00 if you drive in. The springs are wonderful, and there is tubing available at the south end of the park during that time of year (there are multiple tube rental places nearby if you don't want to bring your own). Google Maps location for the campground.
Option 8: Make a suggestion! I'd love to hear where folks might want to go for a group hang!