Last updated on December 16th, 2021 at 01:34 pm
I haven’t been to all 161 Florida state parks, but I’ve been to dozens, and every single one was worth visiting.
While returning from Silver Springs State Park, my husband and I were driving near Lake Griffin State Park in Fruitland Park, and debated whether to stop.
We did, and once again, this Florida State Park did not disappoint.
First, it has the sort of thing I can’t pass up – a famous tree.
But there’s more to this smallish park surrounded by the suburban sprawl of US 441 and the Villages. It has a beautiful picnic area, an interesting short hike, some shaded campsites and it even offers a nice place to kayak and fish.
We first sought out the tree, of course, which is famous for being very big and very old.
It’s one of the largest and oldest live oak in the state and it is magnificent. Tourists have been visiting it since the 1800s. It is so big I couldn’t get far enough back to get it all in the photo. (Here’s more about its dimensions.)
The trunk of the tree is enormous. With a little boost, kids can climb into a large space formed by the huge branches that spread out from the trunk – and there’s room for more than one child.
The tree is located very near the park’s border with US 441. The rest of the 620-acre park is forested with large moss-draped oaks, including an attractive short hiking trail.
Picnic tables under shade trees overlook the water.
Kayaking at Lake Griffin State Park
The park wraps around the Dead River Marsh, which leads to Lake Griffin, the eighth largest lake in the state and one of nine lakes in the Harris Chain of Lakes.
There’s a large dock, popular with fishermen, and a boat ramp where we launched our canoe, paddling around the Dead River, a languid body of water where we saw a number of birds and alligators along the lily-pad lined shoreline. If you are in the neighborhood or a fisherman, it is a nice place to explore.
You can rent canoes and kayaks here too — $24 for two hours for a canoe or tandem kayak; $20 for a single kayak.
From November to March, the park offers a pontoon boat tour of the marsh area Wednesdays and Fridays at 9:30 and 11 a.m. Price is $15 per person.
Camping at Lake Griffin State Park
There are 40 campsites, many under a live-oak tree canopy. All campsites have water and electricity, 10 sites have 50-amp electric service, seven sites are pull-through sites, and seven sites have sewer hook-ups. The state park website warns that some campsites have noise from nearby US 441.
Many of the campsites, however, are quiet and all of them are surrounded by beautiful trees and vegetation. The noisiest campsites would be those along the western edge of the campground, campsites 6 through 16.
Bottom line: Lake Griffin State Park makes a pleasant stop if you’re in the neighborhood. It’s not a destination park worth driving hours to reach, like many larger and better known state parks. But if you like famous trees or a pretty site for a picnic or paddle, check out Lake Griffin State Park when you’re nearby..
Lake Griffin State Park website
3089 U.S. Highway 441-27
Fruitland Park, FL 34731
A note from the editor:
The information in this article was accurate when published but may change without notice. Confirm details when planning your trip by following the applicable links in this article.
This page may include affiliate links, such as Amazon and Hotels.com, from which we may earn a modest commission. We also include free links to local small businesses, such as kayak outfitters and restaurants, for the convenience of readers.
This article is the property of FloridaRambler.com and is protected by U.S. Copyright Law. Re-publication without written permission is against the law.
The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.