A few years ago, my husband and I discovered Lake Talquin State Park, just outside of Tallahassee on Highway 20. This Florida State Park is small, does not boast much in the way of amenities, and is probably visited mostly by fishermen looking for a quick opportunity to fish without going through the effort of putting a boat in the water. Of all our visits, only one time have we encountered another family at the park and the occasional fisherman only a handful of times. We are typically the only people there, soaking in the spectacular view.
While you cannot camp or rent canoes & kayaks, you can throw an amazing party! Upon arrival, the first impressive scene is the covered picnic pavilion, easily built to accommodate very large groups. A party of 100+ could very comfortably enjoy this area without being crowded. Near by is a large, clean and well-maintained bathroom facility with additional uncovered picnic areas in-between. On the other side of the pavilion is another covered area which contains several large built-in grills. In front of the grilling area is a circular fire pit with substantial seating. This is the perfect place for a family reunion or other large celebration. While we have dreamed of hosting a party or celebration, we have treasured this space as a favorite spot to take our children.
The nature trail is 1.2 miles, with native plant, tree, and wildlife information posted along the trail. The path is dirt, covered with leaves much of the year and not many hazards as far as roots or inclines. It is an easy and safe walk which is perfect for young children to become accustom to being in the woods and exploring, as well as for parents to feel comfortable letting kids wander a bit. There are numerous varieties of fungi growing on logs and trees, which my kids always enjoy finding, especially Mercy, who is always on the lookout for fairies!
Along the water’s edge there is an incredible boardwalk which is easily the most appreciated aspect of the park. The steep bluff is not incredibly high, but is prohibitive in most places for traversing down to the water’s edge. This boardwalk allows visitors to walk just above the water’s surface, taking in the magnificent views of the lake. Even though I have visited many times, I continue to be moved by the shear size of Lake Talquin. It is a tremendous body of water. Little wakes moving across the surface, splash under the boardwalk, creating a continuous rhythm; the perfect backdrop for listening to ducks, geese and various birds calling around the lake.
We have been fortunate enough to have a few wildlife encounters in this park, too. White-tailed deer are commonly spotted on the trail or on the drive from the park entrance to the parking area. This is also a fantastic spot for birding as there are easily observed native water birds as well as woodland birds. Of course, squirrels are also abundant. Additionally, while this sighting did not occur inside this state park, I did watch a black bear darting into the Lake Talquin State Forest, just a bit down the road from the entrance to this park.
One other tidbit – go now! The best time of year to enjoy North Florida hiking and outdoor experiences is Fall and Winter. Spring boasts some serious beauty, as well as wild blueberries in these areas, but as the temperatures rise in late spring/summer so do the tick, mosquito, and fire ant encounters. So, even if you have to bundle up, I hope you will visit this great little park soon.