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A mountain biker takes advantage of one of the steep and challenging bike trails -- a reminder of the former mining operations at Alafia. A hiker pauses near the river on a level section of the challenging Old Agrico Hiking Trail. The playground here is open and just steps away are large live oak trees, their branches covered with Spanish moss. Two horseback riders enjoy a grassy spot near the river along some of the nearly 20 miles of scenic, meandering trails.
Alafia River State Park
Blue skies and lush green grasses surround the peaceful dark surface of one of Alafia's lakes.

History and Culture

Alafia River State Park is a former phosphate mine. The reclaimed mine altered the landscape and created new landforms such as several small lakes and steep grades popular with off-road bicyclists who enjoy challenging trails. A bottomland forest bordering the South Prong of the Alafia River was protected from mining. This prong of the river is a blackwater stream. The park's 6,312 acres were donated to the State in 1996 by Cytec Industries. The mine was called Lonesome Mine, named after the nearby community of Fort Lonesome, a site which was a frontier outpost of the U.S. Army during the Third Seminole War.

A picnic area overlooks the water behind the original Alafia park sign. This spot now serves as the North Trailhead entrance.

Entrance Sign

Alafia River State Park first allowed access to the land in 1996. The original access point consisted of a composting toilet, two pavilions, a playground, four picnic tables, two standing barbecue grills and a grass parking lot.

Each trail is highlighted in a different color on this early trail map for Alafia River State Park.

Alafia Trail Map

The original trail map for Alafia River State Park included trails for all user grouped on one map. Today, each recreational trail activity has it own map, which includes activity-specific suggestions and advice.

In this mining photo, a dragline attached to a large crane scrapes the earth for phosphate materials.

Dragline

In the mining process, the dragline is a piece of equipment that scoops up the top 15-30 feet of earth, known as overburden, and deposits it in spoil piles to the side of the pit. The dragline next removes the matrix, which is unloaded in another pit for the next step in the mining process. The matrix is a mixture of phosphate rock, clay and sand.

Alafia River State Park campground was a bare field, as in this photo taken before the campsites were constructed.

Site of Camping Area

Before becoming a campground, this area was used for phosphate mining. Once the mining process was completed and the reclaimed area was established, the park became the proud owner of a picturesque location for a family camping area, much like a large open field. Today, visitors can select from a 30-site campground.

This image shows the campground bathhouse under construction.

Work in Progress

With such a beautiful location for Alafia River State Park's campground, staff eagerly began building the necessary facilities for future guests.