No phone, no internet, no TV 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 except a beautiful lakeside campground where Georgia’s Chattahoochee and Flynt rivers converge to form Florida’s Apalachicola River at Lake Seminole.
The Three Rivers State Park campground is a mile deep in the woods. When we visited in October, the weather was cool and humidity-free. There was even some leaf color.
If you left your fishing pole at home, borrow one at the ranger station. If you leave your kayak behind, the rangers will rent 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
We love this campground as much as any we’ve ever 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 the lake, and lakefront sites enjoy access for kayaks and canoes.
There is very little underbrush but the generous size and distance between sites affords a satisfactory 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. For RVers, 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.
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.)
RV and tent sites are $16 plus tax, and the cabin is $65 per night plus tax. There is an additional $6.70 reservation fee per visit, and a $7 daily utility fee was expected to be implemented in 2021. Sites are half-price for Florida residents over 65 or disabled (with certification).
Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance by calling (800) 326-3521. (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern).
Recreation at Three Rivers State Park
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. While we did see some high-powered bass boats, 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, but for the most part, caution should be exercised in anything but a small boat. Even then, you could run aground.
Enjoy five miles of nature trails for hiking, and more than seven miles of trails and paved roads for bicycle riding. Off-road terrain can be a bit rough with moderate elevation changes and helmets are recommended.
Hiking through forested hills of pine and mixed hardwoods, you’ll find a wide variety of trees, including loblolly pine, southern magnolia, sweet gum, shagbark hickory, hackberry and switch cane (North American bamboo).
The forest is populated with fox squirrels, white-tailed deer, gray fox and many species of native and migratory birds. We saw plenty.
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, so be aware.
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 located 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.
What’s Nearby? Not much
There’s a Piggly Wiggly supermarket on the other side of Sneads. We were told that the deli has the best hoagies anywhere, and if the line was any indicator, the suggestion was probably right. The deli also had some interesting prepared foods, including a fully cooked whole ham ($19.99). We opted for glazed pork chops for $1.73. Quite tasty.
The reason we went to the market was to do our laundry next door at the “laudry mat“ (sic). Several machines were out of order, but there were enough to do the job and the prices were reasonable.
There are a couple of convenience stores with gas about three miles from the campground, but not much beyond that. The three cafes we saw were ramshackle and no longer in business, giving it a ghost-town feel. 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.
Three Rivers State Park, 7908 Three Rivers Road, Sneads, FL. Park Office: 850-482-9006. Activities: Bicycling, Birding, Boating, Camping, Canoe/Kayak, Fishing, Hiking, Picnicking. Wheelchair Accessible. Pets OK. Camping Fee: $16/night plus tax and a non-refundable $6.70 booking fee. Cabin Rental: $65 per night plus tax and non-refundable $6.70 reservation fee. TripAdvisor Reviews
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Bob Rountree is a beach bum, angler and camper who has explored Florida for decades. No adventure is complete without a scenic paddle trail or unpaved road to nowhere. Bob co-founded FloridaRambler.com with fellow journalist Bonnie Gross 12 years ago.