Alligator Lake Park is located in Columbia County Florida which is in north-central Florida. One website we looked at said it was closed on Tuesdays but when we got there the sign said closed Mondays. When we looked this up on the website and saw admission was free, we thought we were in for a small rinky-dink park.
To our surprise, it was not as small as we thought. Alligator Lake Park is just another one of those awesome Florida parks. The one down-side is that there are no pets allowed. Although it’s not actually a state park it is well maintained.
There are a few different parking areas and an overflow lot. There are covered picnic tables throughout and a building that houses very clean and well-maintained restrooms.
There is a fairly large playground for the little ones and enough grassy area to throw a frisbee around for the bigger kids. There are also several well-maintained hiking trails.
Towards the back of the second parking lot and near the overflow lot, there was a covered pavilion with a screen room and kitchen that I believe is available to rent called the Ponderosa Pavilion.
Our first visit to the park we just checked out the different areas and walked around. Oh yeah, we also found a geocache. There are a few of them there and on our return trips, we found them all!!!
The Montgomery Trail
October 25th, 2017
We started the Montgomery trail by the boat launch but It would probably be better to start on the other end. If you are parked in the second parking lot near the bathrooms, walk past the playground along where the swing is and you will start seeing signs for the different trails.
You could walk up the other way towards the boat ramp and enter from there also. That is where we entered, but we actually parked near the boat ramp. In hindsight, we should not have taken up a spot near the ramp.
Whether you park in the second parking lot and walk along the lake in front of the playground and swing or you walk the other way past the pond towards the boat ramp you will see a sign for the Montgomery Trail. Either way is fine.
The Montgomery trail sign says the estimated Trail time is about 1 hour. Don’t believe it!!! It’s about 3.5 miles start to finish so unless you walk really fast or are jogging you will not finish in 1 hour. If you are like us and stop and take lots of pictures, it will take you closer to 2,5 hours.
There are benches along the way so if you want to stop and take a break you can. The trail is about an 8-10 foot wide grassy/sand flat trail. They call it a dike. You are surrounded on both sides by water or in some areas marsh.
We saw all sorts of different vegetation, birds, butterflies but no alligators. Maybe next time.
Old Canal Trail
December 13th, 2017
Although these trails can all be done in a day, we choose to sleep late, relax and hit the trails later in the day. That means we usually get to only do a little at a time. After all, we are not in any rush.
That being said, we returned to Alligator Park to do a little more hiking and geocaching. This time we did 2 shorter trails than the Montgomery Trail.
The Old Canal Trail is a short trail that just goes out into the lake and stops. Once you reach the end there is a covered bench you can sit and relax a bit.
As with the Montgomery Trail, we saw some great scenery but no Alligators. 0 for 2!!!…lol.
The Deer Trail
December 13th, 2017
We did this the same day as the Old Post Trail. Ok, so this is a really short trail. But short does not mean boring!!! We love the heavily wooded scenery.
This trail connects to other trails within this park so I guess we will have to return again, darn!!!…lol. Oh, by the way, did I mention there is a geocache along this trail!!!
The Capybara Trail
You can pick up the Capybara trail from either the Possum Trot Trail or The Bobcat Trail. It is a fairly wide and easy to navigate trail. I will give you one word of caution about this trail.
If you look at the map, it shows that you can take a left on this trail just before the willow pond trail starts and it will bring you to the Eagle trail. Forget it. Both sides are extremely marshy and impassable.
If you take the Capybara trail thinking you can cut out before the Willow Pond Trail (like we were going to do) you will have to do the Willow pond trail to get back around or just turn back.
The Possum Trot Trail
The Possum Trot Trail is a connecting trail between the Montgomery Trail and the Capybara Trail. There is a small bridge where this trail intersects with the Eagle trail.
The Bobcat Trail
The Bobcat Trail serves as an entry into the trails if you are parked in the first parking area. This trail will take you to the Deer Trail where you will be able to access all the other trails.
The Eagle Trail
The Eagle trail stretches from The Willow Pond Trail down to The Possum Trot Trail. It also passes by the Deer Trail. This trail is just a straight stretch of wide trail that is easy to navigate.
The Egret Loop Trail
The Egret Loop Trail is not actually a loop. We found out the hard way. After you exit the Capybara Trail and cross the bridge to the Egret Loop Trail you will have a choice to go either left or right. One thing I will mention is when you are on the bridge look carefully at the water. This is where we saw a fairly large alligator.
We chose to go right and figured we would just loop around. Wrong!!! We got halfway around and there was a huge break in the trail. You would have to be an Olympic long jumper to get to the other side. We were a little disappointed. Some kind of bridge would have been nice.
So we doubled back and headed the other way around and went as far as the break again. From the point of the bridge on, this side was mostly dry land and field until near the end where the water views came back in.
If you are athletic you can probably do all these trails in one day. We chose to break it up into several days. After all, it’s free so why not. We did go back on a weekend day one time and it was much busier than when we had gone during the week.