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.
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.
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 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.
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.