Florida Life- State Parks

Carney Island Recreation & Conservation Area, Marion County, FL


In an effort to find a new walking path for myself in my new town, I have been on a quest!

My first stop was the Carney Island Recreation & Conservation Area in Marion County, FL.  (Marion County is about an hour and a half from Orlando in case you were wondering!  It is a great county to visit if you are in the Orlando area and wish to explore a more natural Florida.)

Carney Island Recreation & Conservation Area

I do want to say that this park is beautiful!  We visited on a weekday in July.  If you are the type that loves to have a park to yourself, this may be your place!  When we visited I only saw three other cars and a couple of park rangers.

The admission was $7 for a car.  It is on an honor system.  You place the money in an envelope inside a drop box and then display your parking tag.  If you have a Florida Parks annual pass, it is good here!

HOURS: In April-October, the park is open from 7 am to 8 pm.  In November-March, the park is open from 7 am- 5 pm.

PET FRIENDLY: No, you are not allowed to bring pets.


This park allows for swimming in the lake.

(I am going to be honest here- I would not swim in this lake but I saw people doing so and apparently it’s a popular spot.  Personally, lakes creep me out- leeches, snakes, hot water, brain eating amoebas, mushy sand and dirt at the bottom, and alligators.  Also, this park is not far away from the local dump so I have to wonder if anything has permeated over?)

There are outdoor showers and changing rooms if you do decide to swim.

If you do not want to swim but want to bring a boat- good news!  There are boat ramps here.

Hiking: My girls and I walked one of the trails that was a mile each way.  It was the trail that takes you from one swimming area to the other.  I loved it and could see myself purchasing an annual pass and frequently walking here.  HOWEVER, when we went to the main set of trails it was a different story.  There was a swampy area to the left.  I am thinking alligators but I have seen alligators in other parks and no big deal, right?  I have to tell you it is a difference seeing lots of gators sunning themselves out in the open in a very populated park vs. not seeing but knowing they are there in a very wooded, secluded spot.  Call me a baby, I’m ok with it.  We continued to walk and then I heard them.  If you have never heard gators, here is one of their sounds, you’re welcome.

Gator Sounds

Well that ended that, we turned around and left that path.

My husband grew up in the Florida everglades and has had his fair share of wildlife encounters.  He had gone down that path the entire way and came back saying, “You know there are wild boar tracks all over this path and did you hear the gators?”


Wild boars!  Ok, that was a little more nature than I wanted to deal with.

Playground: If you are still with me, there are two very nice playgrounds away from the trails.

Picnic: If dining with wildlife is for you, there are plenty of picnic tables, grills, and a pavilion area.

Restrooms: Lots of restrooms that are clean and well lit.

Volleyball: We saw a couple of volleyball nets and areas.  There were also spaces for horseshoes.

Concessions:  I did see a sign for concessions but since we had brought our own food/drinks, I did not go down to see if they were open or what was available.

Final Thoughts: This is a very beautiful space and has a lot of activities for the family.  I might go back (Who am I kidding- I was scared after walking on the trail with the animals and I am pretty sure I am not going back unless I am bringing a boat.)

The quest for my new walking path continues…

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