This was our second trip to Ocala National Park. For this trip we stuck with the southern end. We pitched our tent at Clearwater Lake Recreation Area. There are no electric hookups but that was fine with us. Our site, like all the others consisted of a nice level spot, a lantern pole, a nice metal picnic table, a barbecue grill, and a fire pit.
They provide bear proof trash receptacles within a short walk of all sites, but not on the site. That's perfect. Showers with warm water, flush toilets, a dish cleaning station, and some faucets outside with potable h2o. Bathhouse was clean.
Our site was number 18 and it had a short trail, conveniently short to the lake. There are benches along the shoreline but watch for gators. We didn't see any, but this is Florida.
There is a sandy beach, which we didn't use, but it is also available for day use. Our campsite was very reasonably priced. At half the full price with our National Park Pass it came to $9.25 per night.
There were plenty of curious and gregarious squirrels, lots of birds, such as cardinals, woodpeckers, catbirds, etc. We also saw a deer down by the lake.
During the week it was low key and quiet. On Friday a large youth group arrived, and occupied several sites. They were a bit noisy but really no more than would be expected. They were having fun.
The noise that did bother us, was the traffic on the highway nearby. I suppose if you're used to it it won't bother you, but we are used to a much quieter area, where we live.
The camp host, Jeffrey was nice. Firewood is a little pricey at $6.50 per small bundle, but it is cut and split. We were free to gather wood, but we really didn't want to during this short trip.
We took a day trip to Juniper Springs. It was gorgeous, and we loved it. I was disappointed that we had to pay to get in. Most national parks honor the pass we have. We would go back. It's very picturesque.
Oh upon our entrance to Juniper we met a couple of employees guiding a pygmy rattle snake away from where people would encounter it. That was a fun thing.
Outside the gift shop is a patio area with picnic tables and flowering vines. We saw a darling little hummingbird feasting. I also spotted two types of skinks. The first is the beautiful Five-lined skink, and the other was a broad-headed skink. Both are delightful.
Along the nature trail I encountered wildflowers and birds, and butterflies and dragonflies. I loved it.
The day we left to drive south to our home we stopped at Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge. I am so glad we did. The road in brought us right through a gorgeous cypress swamp. I photographed beautiful wildflowers.
Next we walked the 1/2 mile wooded loop trail. Mosquitoes were right on cue! ugh. Bring repellent. I make my own of clove and cinnamon and it was effective. None landed on me. There are informative placards along the trail, and it is easy walking.
Finally we strolled into the wetlands area. Unfortunately we were out of time and only got to spend about an hour on that trail. Being a photographer, I tend to mosey, so I didn't get very far. I DID get lots of pictures. I was trailing behind photographing "stuff" when hubby called me to come to where he was. He had spotted a snake. Sadly, I missed it, since snakey wasted no time crossing the path.
Returning to Lake Woodruff will be high on my priority list, and I hope to spend an entire day there, exploring.
Nearby Deland, Florida seems like a nice town to explore and stop for lunch, but we were already behind schedule and had to head home.
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