Blackwater River State Park 3/8-14/2015 Days 1 and 2

IMG_3531We’ve only stayed at a few places where we’ve said, WOW, this is great! This is one such park, but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. So upfront, what we liked right away: it’s in a state park but has full hook-ups, price is right, small but enough room between sites, level sites, small gravel base to it, and on every site: barbecue grill, picnic table, campfire ring and clothes line (seems these last two things are in most state park campgrounds). The camp host was very helpful and sold firewood bundles for $5.50. (Our official review of the park on Campendium.)

We only found two things that might hinder ones ability to enjoy this campground. First, as we are learning with all the Florida State Parks during peak season, it is hard to get reservations for the dates you want (like Friday and Saturday nights). But we have learned some ways to work around it. More later. And the next was the sound of freedom. This State Park is near Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting, one of the Navy’s two primary pilot training bases. We have both lived near military bases so the sound only makes us think of “freedom.” And sadly, while we were here, the 11 Military crewmen were killed in a training accident nearby. We will never denigrate our military and we will always appreciate the sounds of freedom. So for us, this was not a negative.

The drive here was beautiful but we did have a concern or two due to a narrow bridge as we got closer – but it’s under construction. Here are pictures of our drive here and the campground:

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Upon arrival and an easy set up, we took off to explore and scope out the hiking. We walked as big of a loop as possible around the campground and it was only 1.78 to the beach and fabulous scenery. Here is a gallery of our first walk:

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We were ready for an adventurous week, although the weather reports said Monday would be the only day without rain. So we had to decide how could we maximize our hiking. We did some research and discovered the Juniper Creek 8.1 mile hike, one way. It would start at the Deaton Bridge Trailhead, less than a mile from our campsite, ending at the Red Rock Trailhead. The highlights were to hike along Juniper Creek, experience a dramatic view from top of The Bluffs (we couldn’t resist this!), see more sandy beaches and hopefully see some laurel blooms that start in the spring. We did some evidence of spring!

One thing we love about hiking is the solitude, the beauty of God’s creation and just being in nature! We only saw four people on this hike. As we drove on Red Rocks Road to the parking lot, we saw a hiker emerge from the woods. By the time we parked and got our gear ready, he was close to us, coming down to the creek for more water. His name is Mover and he started hiking at Key West in January and is s headed to Canada! He told us he spent the night in the shelter on this trail. We asked if he saw The Bluffs and he said he did…but we’re not really sure if he did or not as they were not easy to find if you followed the blue blaze trail. We didn’t walk down far enough to enter at the official trailhead…so we walked right to them.

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So what more can we experience after this perfect day? It doesn’t get much better than this….or does it! Read here for the next post as we continue this fabulous adventure in the Blackwater River State Park.