Lovely Lafayette County

Lafayette (local pronounciation la-fay'-et, not la-fay-et'.) County in North Central Florida is mainly agriculture based with lots of dairy farms. Its main city and county seat is Mayo, about 1000 population) at the intersection of Highways 27 and 51. There are lots of recreation activities available in Lafayette County mostly revolving around the Suwannee River and its boating opportunities and the many fresh water springs feeding the river. Mallory Swamp also attracts a great deal of seasonal hunters and naturalists looking for a slice of the original Florida. However, don't tackle the roads in this well known wildlife management area without an SUV or pickemup.

Three beautiful state parks, Troy Springs, Peacock Springs and Lafayette Blue Springs attract visitors and divers from all over. Peacock is known of one of the very best cave diving spots in the world today with its many interconnected cave systems. And remember, there are many springs in Florida named "Blue" so be careful when you hear of Blue Springs in Florida!

On the way to Peacock Springs from Mayo you will cross the Suwannee River on a beautiful blue suspension bridge, one of the only ones still in existence. This is a treat for those who love bridge design and is pictured in the Mayo destination page. There's a nice roadside park right on the river on the east side of the road just south of the bridge for a rest stop.

While in the area, not really in this loop but worthwhile, is Branford to the east with a great roadside park right on the Suwannee River and Branford Springs right by the park. Madison is to the west, a very quaint little town full of antique shops and history.

Mallory Swamp Wildlife Management Area

This area includes more than 29,000 acres in southeastern Lafayette County, southwest of Branford. Mallory Swamp is a combination of basin swamp, mixed shrub swamp, and mesic flatwoods. Due to a large wildfire in 2001, much of Mallory Swamp has unique open vistas of natural grassland with scattered pine and cypress trees. The tract is undergoing a hydrologic and natural communities restoration.

Recreational opportunities include hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, hiking, and biking. Wildlife on the area include white-tailed deer, feral hogs, alligator, black bear, white ibis, wood storks, turkey, limpkins, wood storks, and great blue herons. Within the area are nearly 100 miles of grassy roads. Camping is prohibited on the area.

The Mallory Swamp tract is a primitive recreation site. Allowable uses are wildlife viewing, fishing, hunting, bicycling, hiking, and horseback riding on administrative roads.

Access to the Mallory Swamp tract from Mayo: Travel south on SR 51 to CR 360, turn left; travel 11 miles southeast on CR 360; the pavement ends and the road becomes dirt (Crapps Tower Road); continue 4 miles to the entrance into Mallory Swamp. You can also take CR 354 from US 27 in 2 places.

More information can be obtained from the Suwannee River Water Management District at www.srwmd.state.fl.us. You can contact the district office at 386-362-1001 or email to recreation@srwmd.fl.us

Mallory Swamp is also part of the Mallory Swamp Wildlife Management Area, see www.myfwc.com. For more information on hunting, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 386-758-0525.