Perched along the marshy edge of Lake Griffin, the park seems small compared to its size on the map. That’s because much of it is at water level, a floodplain forest bisected by the Dead River.
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Location: Fruitland Park
Address: 3089 US 441, Fruitland Park
Fees: $5 per vehicle
Restroom: at the picnic area
Land manager: Florida State Parks
8 AM to sunset. Leashed dogs welcome. Guided canoe trips offered.
The park entrance is prominently along US 27-441 on the northbound side of the four-lane highway 2.5 miles north of where US 27 and US 441 merge in Leesburg, immediately south of Fruitland Park.
While canoeing the Dead River Swamp and paddling out to Lake Griffin are probably the park’s biggest draw, the ancient oak just inside the park gate is a must-see.
They call it the Mammoth Live Oak. In the Florida Register of Big Trees (1997) it is listed as the 6th largest live oak in the state, 28 feet around and 70 feet tall.
A pulloff is near it, or you can hike to it on a short nature trail from the picnic area, which is where the park’s only parking area is located.
The dock and canoe rentals are here. It’s also where the half-mile nature trail loop starts, with its spur to the Mammoth Live Oak.
Hiking at Lake Griffin State Park
The hiking trails here are short, totaling a half mile between the two interpretive walks.
The Live Oak Trail starts at the side of the park road and leads immediately back to the Mammoth Live Oak.
Given the limited parking at this spot, it’s better to walk up here from the picnic area. This is also where the Lake Griffin Nature Trail starts. You’ll find it past the restrooms.
Marked with yellow circles, it loops around the campground under laurel oaks and hickories. On its return to the campground you encounter the Live Oak Trail as a spur off the loop.
Paddling at Lake Griffin State Park
Canoeing or kayaking from the put-in at the boat basin to Lake Griffin is a 1.5-mile round trip down and back up the Dead River.
Dead River Marsh is a floodplain forest protected by the park boundary. Most of it is several feet deep. There is nowhere to disembark along the waterway or when you get to the lake.
Much like in the Okeefenokee Swamp, its depth encouraged the growth of floating mats of plants that retained soil, creating quaking earth.
Rentals of canoes and kayaks are $12 per hour for ones that seat two paddlers, and $10 per hour for single-seat kayaks. 2 hour minimum on rentals.
Guided paddling trips are provided by park staff on a regular basis. Call the park for details.
Camping at Lake Griffin State Park
A popular spot for camping, Lake Griffin State Park features a 40-site campground beneath the shade of hardwood trees.
Opened in the 1960s, it’s small enough to feel very outdoorsy, particularly for tent campers. Only seven of the sites are large enough for large rigs.
The bathhouse is in the middle of the circle and includes a washer and dryer.
See our photos of Lake Griffin State Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Established as a botanical preserve for native plants, Flat Island Preserve protects islands in the Okahumpa Marsh, offering hikers and paddlers immersion in a lush wilderness