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Losing track of time at Three Rivers State Park

No internet, no TV and a weak cellular phone signal at Three Rivers State Park. Bring a book, a kayak and a fishing pole.

There’s not much else going on here in this northern extreme of Florida, and that’s OK with me. Not much else besides a beautiful lakeside campground where Georgia’s Chattahoochee and Flynt rivers converge to form Florida’s Apalachicola River.

It does get cooler here faster, in the fall, than downstate, cooler still during winter. When we visited on a recent October weekday, the temperature was mild and humidity-free. There was even some leaf color!

Effective January 1, 2024, Florida residents will have a 30-day head start to book campsites at Florida State Parks, reducing the reservation window for non-residents to 10 months in advance. This new law does not apply to state forests, national parks, county or municipal campgrounds, which have their own rules.

Three Rivers State Park. Lake Seminole.
Lake Seminole from the Three Rivers State Park campground. You can even see a little leaf color across Lake Seminole in Georgia. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

If you left your fishing pole home, you can borrow one at the ranger station. If you leave your kayak behind, the rangers will rent you a canoe.

Sleep late. Three Rivers is split between time zones in the middle of nowhere.

If you get any cellular signal, barely a trickle if you do, your smartphone can’t figure out where you are. One minute you’re in Central Time Zone, the next in Eastern, just by walking around the campground.

The nearest supermarket is McDaniel’s Piggly Wiggly, about 7 miles from the campground in Sneads, FL, and the nearest Walmart is 34 miles away in Bainbridge, GA. (Eastern time zone.)

The campground at Three Rivers State Park

Our campsite at Three Rivers State Park
Our campsite at Three Rivers State Park. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

We loved this campground as much as any we’ve visited in Florida.

There’s not a bad site among the 30 available, including three ADA accessible sites with concrete pads. The rest of the sites are on a hard-pack red clay surface, comfortable for tents and level for RV’s.

All sites have at least a partial view of Lake Seminole, and lakefront sites enjoy access for kayaks and canoes.

There is little vegetation separating sites, but the generous size and distance between sites affords a level of privacy for tents, pop-ups and RV’s.

Each site has water and electric (20/30/50 amp) hookups with a picnic table, clothes line and in-ground fire ring with a grill. Maximum RV length is 50 feet, and most sites have room for slide-outs and awnings. Pets are welcome. The dump station is located as you exit the campground.

Some sites are marginally better than others, so if you are picky, try to book sites directly on the lakeshore if you can get them. Close to Tallahassee (45 miles), this park makes a fine weekend getaway, so book early if you want weekends.

We reserved an inland site, #26, for our arrival on the weekend and lucked out for two additional weeknights on the lakefront on Site #15.

cabin in the campground at Three Rivers State Park.
There is only one cabin at Three Rivers State Park, and it is beautiful situated. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

There is one cabin, a cedar-sided one bedroom with A/C, heat, a wood-burning fireplace and rocking chairs on a shaded screened porch overlooking the lake.

Reservations are best, especially on weekends, but if you arrive unannounced and sites are available (there will be a sign at the main gate), just pick one out and register when the campground registration office opens for limited hours during the day. (Reserved sites are marked.)

Because this campground is in such a remote area, it’s more likely to have available sites than other state park campgrounds farther south.

Recreation at Three Rivers State Park

campground at three rivers state park
View of Three Rivers State Park campground from Lake Seminole.

Fishing and boating are why most people come here. The pier is popular with campers both day and night, and your catch may include largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish, bluegill, speckled perch and bream, typical of freshwater fishing in the south.

If you bring your own kayak, canoe or standup paddle-board, you can launch behind your site or from the boat ramp.

Larger bass boats need to be aware of frequent shallow areas. There are a few channel markers, and on a clear day you can see the shallow water and shoals.

Enjoy five miles of nature trails for hiking, and 10 miles of off-road multi-use trails and paved roads for bicycle riding. Off-road terrain can be a bit rough with moderate elevation changes and helmets are recommended.

kayaking on lake seminole three rivers state park
Three Rivers State Park: My wife Kathy explores Lake Seminole across from our campsite. If you look carefully, you can see a little fall color in the trees. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

Hiking through forested hills of pine and mixed hardwoods, you may stil find a wide variety of trees, including loblolly pine, southern magnolia, sweet gum, shagbark hickory, hackberry and switch cane (North American bamboo).

While some of the forest was uprooted by 2018’s Hurricane Michael, think of it as an opportunity to witness the re-emergence of a new forest in this special corner of Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

The forest is populated with fox squirrels, white-tailed deer, gray fox and many species of native and migratory birds. We saw plenty.

three rivers state park three rivers state park map Losing track of time at Three Rivers State Park
Three Rivers State Park. (Map courtesy Florida State Parks)

A bird blind along the Lakeview Trail allows you to pause, quietly of course, to seek out an American Bald Eagle, ospry, great blue heron and other common waterfowl.

In the woods, keep an eye out for eagles, the pileated woodpecker, American bittern, Kentucky warbler, Louisiana waterthrush, red-breasted nuthatch and golden-crowned kinglet, among other migratory birds.

Loaner guides and optics are available at the main ranger station.

Fair warning: You may encounter poison ivy in these woods.

Three Rivers State Park Day Use Area

The day-use area of the park is a mile or so from the campground and features a picnic area with pavilions overlooking the lake and another ramp for small boats.

Ramps for larger boats are outside the park.

The pavilions seat 30-60 people and are available for $30 for the day, but you don’t need to rent a pavilion to enjoy a picnic here. Each pavilion has electric and water service.

Day-use admission is $3 per vehicle.

Three Rivers State Park, 7908 Three Rivers Park Road, Sneads FL 32460. Phone: 850-482-9006. RV and tent sites are $16 plus tax plus a $7 daily utility fee and a reservation fee of $6.70 per booking. Sites are half-price for Florida residents over 65 or disabled (with certification). The cabin is $65 per night plus tax; no discount for seniors. Make reservations up to 11 months in advance online or by calling (800) 326-3521.

Note: As of January 1, 2024, Florida residents will have a 30-day head start to book campsites at all Florida State Parks, and the reservation window will be reduced to 10 months for non-residents.

What’s Nearby? Not much

There’s a Piggly Wiggly supermarket on the other side of Sneads with a deli recommended by locals. We tried it and liked it.

The reason we went to the market was to do laundry next door at the laudry mat (sic). Several machines were out of order, but the prices were reasonable.

There are a couple of convenience stores with gas 3 miles from the campground, but not much beyond that. The nearest restaurants were in Chattahoochee, FL, 12 miles away, but we didn’t see anything there that would interest us.

The nearest town of any substance, besides Bainbridge, is Tallahassee, about 45 miles from the campground.

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