Our next stop was Hart Springs, a Gilchrist County park in Bell, Florida. Bell is about 40 miles west of Gainesville, Florida. Hart Springs sits on the Suwannee River and has one of the largest spring-fed swimming areas in the state of Florida. The RV campground is to the east of the river and is connected to the recreational area by a 3/4 mile paved path suitable for walking, jogging or biking.
Once you get to the recreational area you can enjoy a stroll on a 1/2 mile boardwalk that allows you to see where the springs flow up out of the earth and down to merge with the famous Suwannee River. The area is full of Cypress Trees, Pine Trails and, if you’re as fortunate as we were during a walk down there one evening, you’ll see mullet leaping out of the water before your very eyes. We were at first startled, then as giddy as kids once we realized what we were seeing.
Our site was a full hook up one that was fairly level on grass. Spacing between sites was inconsistent. The site to our right was so close that our sewer connection was basically in our neighbor’s front door area, while the site to our left was at least 30 feet away. There was a playground for kids, bathrooms/showers (we didn’t use) and 2 washers and 2 dryers for guests to use costing $1.50 per load.
As mentioned above, Hart Springs is a county park as opposed to the usual State or National Parks we stay in. The host came by as we were setting up and gave us a sheet of paper with all the rules and a brochure of the park with maps and useful information. Something that was a “first” for us at this park was the requirement that all guests wear a provided wristband, similar to those you get at nightclubs, through their entire stay. The bands were sturdy and water resistant. But if yours broke or was lost you were required to contact the camp host and get a new one.
According to the camp host this was due to recent issues with homeless folks and teenagers coming in to use the bathrooms or showers, which the park did not care about. What they did care about was the vandalism of equipment and finding excrement smeared on the interior and exterior walls of the bath/shower building. It seems there’s always someone ruining things for others.
Most of our stay was spent reading, hiking and relaxing. There were several scenic trails of varying lengths and we hiked each of them at least twice during our stay. We did make a trip to Gainesville the first Saturday we were there to go to a Farmers Market, but unfortunately it was nothing to “write home about” or even write a blog about. Twice we drove about 35 miles one way to shop at a Publix grocery store (our preferred grocery store when in Florida, especially for produce) but other than that we just took it easy and stayed close to “home” for this outing.
Thanks for following the Wandering Wetheringtons.