Manager's Message

Stephanie McDonald

Stephanie McDonald, Park Manager

Summertime at Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park is a fun time for the whole family! There is so much to see and do.

You can visit Lake Hall and build a sand castle on the beach, picnic in one of our shelters or under a shady tree, swim, kayak or fish off of the dock, grill out or play on the playground.

You can stroll through the beautiful 28-acre historic ornamental garden, designed and created by Alfred B. Maclay.

Although the Maclay House is open only during the time the family would have been here, January-April, you can still visit the Walled Garden, the Reflection Pool, the Black Pond and the Hidden Garden. You can also enjoy the peaceful and beautiful view of Lake Hall from the Lakeside Pavilion. Bring a book and enjoy yourself in this wonderful spot.

You can hike, jog, bike or even bring your horse out on our 11 miles of trails located on the Lake Overstreet portion of our park. At the Lake Overstreet Overlook you may catch a glimpse of an American alligator, a great blue heron, an American eagle and many other wildlife that inhabit Maclay Gardens. We are also getting ready to update our kiosks along the Overstreet Trail System.

You can learn about our ravine system, some of our rare and endangered plants, learn about a clastic lake system, all about sinkholes, area wildlife and about the Native Americans that lived on this property as well as the Black American community that thrived here after the Civil War.

Currently my favorite spot in the park is on the newly routed Big Pine Trail next to Lake Hall. This is a pleasant 20-minute walk in an upland hardwood forest habitat that offers views of the lake and exercise that anyone can fit in on their lunch break. There are benches along the trail where you can stop and have lunch or read a book in the shade.

The overstory consists of Southern magnolia, sweetgum, live oaks and longleaf pine. The understory consists of beautyberry, Eastern redbud and flowering dogwood. This is a short pleasant loop that is not highly traveled yet. Stay tuned for the name change: Magnolia Loop as this seems to be the dominant inhabitant.

The park is located in the north region of Tallahassee and is a popular place for all of the activities listed above, including photography. Many families come to take a photograph with one of the many large and beautiful majestic oaks as their backdrop, and many nature enthusiasts come to photograph plants and animals.

Bald eagle nesting season typically runs from October 1 until the eaglets fledge, around mid-May of the following year. Maclay Gardens also rents kayaks (single or tandem), and mountain bikes. If you are interested or would like more information, contact the ranger station at 850-487-4556.

Interested in becoming involved with Maclay Gardens? We are always looking for volunteers to join our team! If you would like to help keep the historic gardens beautiful, work in the ranger station, keep trails maintained or help in any other way, please contact our ranger station at 850-487-4556 or fill out an application online

The Friends of Maclay Gardens Inc. is our citizen support organization. This is a dedicated group of volunteers that you can become involved with! They generate support for Maclay Gardens through work projects, community relations, exhibits, fundraising activities, special events and educational activities. 

We hope to see you and your family out enjoying yourselves at Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park. Come see why the state of Florida has chosen to protect and preserve this special place for all time!