Off to Saint Marys hidden gem AKA Crooked River State park!
I initially heard of Saint Marys from a friend/former boss. It’s just about as close to Florida as you can get on the coast. On our way to a camping trip in Key Largo we noticed a Crooked River State Park sign. We saw it again when for a moment we were considering trading in our Travel Trailer for a Fifth Wheel with Camping World of Jacksonville (That’s a whole different story)
We made up our minds that we would get to this campground at some point. Well, that point was Last Weekend. Having looked around for a campground where we could also Jet ski, and finding them full, I tried Crooked River State Park for grins and giggles. It had many spots open.
Crooked River State park is on the water and does have a boat ramp. But I must tell you, this is not a park where you can just Walk Up to the water.
Looking at the camping Map, I thought we had absolutely lucked out. (It happens from time to time) I found a campsite, per the map, right on the water. I had visions of tossing the crab basket in the water in the evening, and fishing right behind our camper. Well….it wouldn’t have been IMPOSSIBLE to do these things, but it would have been a bit difficult and actually more of a pain!
You see, the further away from the ocean you are, the higher up the land can sometimes be. Because Crooked River is Tidal, the water will rise and lower with the tides. So you end up with the possibility of steep banks or cliffs.
We did see a young man who did try to fish of the “cliff”, but I have to say, if he caught anything bigger than a finger mullet, he was going to play heck trying to get it up out of the water. It’s not like being on a pier. There are roots and limbs, plenty of things for your line to get snagged on. I guess it boils down to how desperate you are to fish.
The campground has recently gone through an upfit of sorts. We aren’t sure what was already there and what was upfitted. We did see that the electrical was new. They were laying concrete at the base of the electrical boxes while we were there.
The side of the campground we were on was spacious and well thought out. The sites were large with a pebble area for the picnic table and fire pit. Large oak trees and Pine trees speckled the campground which gave a little shade, but not so much that it made the campground dreary. The side we were on was mostly Water and electric only. I did not realized there were Full hookups in this campground. It’s possible they were all booked when I was on Reserve America. But it’s also possible that I didn’t bother due to my not being accustomed to State Parks offering Full hookups. It was no worries as we were only there for Friday evening to Sunday noon and the bathhouse was across the way. Not that we really used it much.
We took the dogs on the different nature trails that were within easy walking distance to our camper. There were a few others we saw while driving in and out of the park, but with the heat…we weren’t really interested in walking through the woods with the mosquitos having a smorgasbord with us! We came across two different playgrounds for kids. Our kid has outgrown such things (sigh).
There is a Nature center right past the Campground office. We attempted to go at 11am on the Saturday. But they were closed.
We bought some Frozen Shrimp at the Bait shop right by the boat ramp. They had a decent selection of necessities. We went down to the floating dock and tried our luck. The tide was coming in and the pull was strong. I was successful in catching a croaker and the smallest channel cat I have ever seen. A father and his small son arrived to fish with us. The boy regaling us with stories about fish. Then another man came down and it was getting a bit crowded. While everyone was perfectly nice….it’s a small area to fish and it was very very hot. We called it.
I took advantage of the moment and Shaved both dogs down, while Mark set up a hammock for the kid. We goofed around and Mark finished seasoning the new “Blackstone” grill that has become a staple of campers.
The evening rolls around and one of the camp hosts came by to let me know that the sunset on the water was worth paying attention to. I got a few nice pictures but due to the clouds, it wasn’t what it might have been otherwise. We had our campfire and called it a night.
This campground is really very nice. Its the kind of campground that you can relax in. It’s not the type of campground that hosts a ton of families with screaming wild kids. Some people like that, and some people don’t. We are rather in the middle.
There are two bathhouses. The bathhouse closest to use did have a coin operated washer and dryer. The office/gift shop has the basics like batches of firewood, bug spray, and ice cream as well as the typical gifts and knickknacks. The office also offers WiFi but only at the Office. It does not offer throughout the campground. The bait shop had the basics you would need if you forgot something.
The list of amenities within Crooked River State Park are:
Bait & Tackle
Pit Toilet – Pioneer
Things To Do & See
Private boats permitted
Guided Kayak Trips
Miniature Golf (fee)
Park Paddlers Club
Guided Boat Tours
Weddings with park approval required
Down the road a bit is meant to be a ferry to Cumberland Island National Seashore known for the wild horses and beaches.
It’s occurred to me that I need some sort of Rating System for these campgrounds we go to…I will have to work on that