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Florida State Parks:
Lake Griffin

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Lake Griffin State Park

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Difficulty: Basic Scenery: Good (in park)
Location: Leesburg,
Lake County
Distance: 3 miles Dead River Marsh.
Atlas: Page 78 B-3
Last Update: September 2003 Canoe OK: Yes

Photos only Photo-trip - limited details.


From the mid 1980's to present, Lake Griffin, the main body of water east of the State Park, has undergone profound changes. Once a clear-water, sand bottom lake dominated by rooted aquatic plants and trophy largemouth bass population is now a muck lake, high in organic sediments with uncharacteristically high algae blooms and few bass. What happened? According to the State, increased nutrients and human contamination are to blame.

So why paddle there? Well, with every manure pile is a pony and this one is called Lake Griffin State Park. The 460 acre park is very attractive, under utilized and offers a convenient put-in to the Dead River Marsh. In the marsh you'll find an incredible array of flora and fauna on floating "islands" made of thickly matted plants.

In addition to attractive picnic facilities, an amphitheater, boat ramp and canoe rentals, the park has 40 campsites that accommodate tents, trailers and motor homes. Each campsite has its own picnic table, grill, water and electric.

Alligator Alert:

But not the kind you'd expect. Since 1997 a substantial numbers of Lake Griffin's alligators have been dying of unknown causes. The number of dead alligators has increased each year, with the peak die-off occurring in April and May. Tests on the 'gators have shown a nervous system disease and some sort of toxin may be responsible. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) suspect a type of blue-green algae is the culprit. Another theory is the die-off is caused by a thiamine deficiency from eating too many Gizzard Shad (a trash fish). Does it affect humans? Heck, I don't know, but as long as the 'gators don't eat me; I won't eat them and find out.


From Leesburg go 2.5 miles north on 441-27 to Fruitland Park. The State Park is on the right side of the highway. An entrance fee of $3.25 per vehicle will get you in.

Lake Griffin State Park Photographs

Lake Griffin State Park;Canoe Launch;Boat Ramp.

Boat / Canoe Launch
Don't let this photo keep you from paddling Lake Griffin State Park. When we visited, the ramp and canal were clogged with Duck Weed. The good news is after 100 feet or so, you'll hit open water. Even better news is since our visit the Park Manager contacted CFKT and said most of the aquatic plants at the boat ramp have been removed.
Lake Griffin State Park;Water Lily.

Dead River Marsh
The best area to explore in the park is the Dead River Marsh that separates the upland areas from Lake Griffin. The water is too deep for most plants to root so they become dense floating mats that occasionally break free and float into the lake.
Lake Griffin State Park;Plant Life;Plants;Bush.

Plant Life
Besides the nasty Duck Weed and Pennywort "soup" at the boat ramp, other aquatic plants you're certain to spot are Water Lilies, Spatterdock, Hydrilla, Cattails and Water Hyacinth. On dry land you'll find Live Oak, Hickory, Palm and Pine trees.
Lake Griffin State Park;Great Blue Heron.

The Dead River Marsh holds countless numbers of animals including otters, raccoon, snakes, alligators and many types of wading birds such as Great Blue Heron, Limpkins, Anhingas and Moorhen. If you like to fish, the marsh and lake host Largemouth Bass, Bluegill and Speckled Perch.
Lake Griffin State Park;Lake Griffin;Paddler.

Lake Griffin
Lake Griffin, part of the Harris Chain of Lakes, is one mile east of the park just past the CR 446A bridge. The 16,500 acre lake is mostly developed on the southern shore and makes a poor place to dip a paddle. Until the State cleans up this mess, stick to the west side of CR 446A - you'll be much happier.
Lake Griffin State Park;Like Oak;Tree.

Live Oaks
Near the park entrance is a short hiking trail leading to the 5th largest Live Oak in Florida. This particular tree is several hundred years old, over 10 feet in diameter and 130+ feet tall.