A passive preserve, River Rise Preserve State Park adjoins O’Leno State Park, taking up where O’Leno leaves off with the Santa Fe River flowing underground.
The river emerges all at once at River Rise, a significant geologic feature that bars paddlers from heading any farther upstream into O’Leno State Park.
Resources for exploring the area
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Location: High Springs
Fees: $4-5 per vehicle
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM until sunset daily. Leashed dogs welcome. This park is managed by adjacent O’Leno State Park.
From High Springs drive north on US 41/441. Enter via the gate (with combination) or via the Bellamy Rd trailhead for O’Leno State Park.
About the Park
Like other folks who go to High Springs, we’ve driven by the gate with the sign for River Rise Preserve State Park and never seen it open.
Why? You can’t enter the park from here without having the combination to the gate, or via a paddle on the Santa Fe River, or by approaching by trail from O’Leno State Park, as we did.
The gate combination can be obtained after you pay the entrance fee at O’Leno State Park’s ranger station or by calling them in advance.
Cloaked in shady forests of sweetgum, cypress, tupelo, and red maple, River Rise Preserve State Park has numerous large ponds where the Santa Fe shows itself for a moment or two through karst windows along the trails.
Access 20 miles of equestrian / mountain biking trails and the backpacker’s loop at River Rise via the Bellamy Road entrance of O’Leno or from the main parking area of O’Leno State Park itself.
Paddlers can paddle upstream from the put-in along US 441 at the Santa Fe River to the rise.
A 20-stall barn, bathhouse, and pavilion await equestrians for primitive camping. Reserve your spot through the ranger station at O’Leno (cannot be reserved online).
Learn about O’Leno State Park, which provides trail access to River Rise Preserve State Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
On a mellow paddling trip down the Santa Fe River, John discovers several swimming springs, thousands of turtles, and miles of quiet waterway.
Mill Creek Preserve encompasses 5-plus miles of hiking on nearly 1,200 acres of unexpected delights in an area well-known for its sinkholes and disappearing streams.
A swimming hole as a work of natural art, the deep gash in the earth that is Ichetucknee Spring glows an unearthly robin’s-egg blue, cradled in a limestone bowl within a leafy glen