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22 acre forest bordering Lake George, Ocala National Forest, St.John's River, Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, and Deleon Springs State Park. You could expect a lot of wildlife and nice hikes. So far this is only about the Bluffton trail area. Part of Great Florida Birding Trail.
Forest birds and some ducks/wading birds but the water is deep so not tons. We saw our first Red-cockaded woodpeckers here. Killdeer by water - odd for forest/river we thought. Eagles were above - they cried out until we recited the pledge of allegiance (I put my hand over my heart and sang O-Canada but they didn't notice - because they're dumb birds.) Part of Great Florida Birding Trail.
In a pretty short space of time we saw a family of raccoons, lots of bear warnings and serious trash cans, alligators, and a group of deer. Pretty great.
Camping area, chem toilets.
We drove in from state road 40 onto the dirt road past the camping coral area to the parking by the river at Bluffton Recreation Area. There are other areas to visit here.
Most of the birds and wildlife were seen by the time we hit the parking area on the St.John's. SO - you could make it a short stop and have a great trip. The entire state forest is riddled with trails so you could spend several days here if you wanted.
We drove in from state road 40 onto the dirt road. As soon as we entered labeled territory we saw a pair of deer nearby on a side jeep trail. A bit further up under the trees we saw the camping area on the left and had a look. Seems like it was protected from Bears quite a bit. Might be a nice place to camp well into the woods but have peace of mind if you were worried about bears - which are not something to really worry about so much.... not saying I would feel the same if one walked through camp. Before leaving a cute mom and baby racoon walked up the road.
Further up we came to the parking area which was quite worth the drive even if we did no hiking. It's sort of a little bay off the St.John's and also the St.Johns. The water was shallow enough that we saw some wading birds and some coots. Right off in the trees was our first red-cockaded woodpecker. Killdeer were running around the parking area (not at all busy - 1 other car) which was not where you'd expect to see them.
The Bluffton nature trail was mostly live oaks and palmettos and a mile or so long. Covered enough not to be hot and generally just a nice trail - felt like you were deep in the woods which you kind of are. Of course I was also thinking at every turn we're gonna run into a bear after figuring out that contraption was not a strangely placed library book return but a very serious bear-proof trash can.
If you look at map (search for "lake george state forest map pdf") you can see there are tons of hiking trails, dirt roads etc in here And since it is connected to half the great wildlife areas in the state don't feel you have to stop the adventure where we have (so far).
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