If you are looking for a unique place to hike and camp you may want to check out Hontoon Island State Park, located in DeLand in Volusia County.
Hontoon Island is, well, an island! You take a short free pontoon boat ride across to the island. Once you park the car you just get in line at the dock. They take six people over at a time. If you are camping there they have wheelbarrows that you put your belongings in to easily cart it over on the boat. The island offers nice hiking, primitive tent camping, primitive cabins, a playground, small supply store, and small museum about the area.
My family has camped at Hontoon Island several times over the years. We have rented the primitive cabins three different times. They are affordable and it's a great experience. They have bunk beds, so you just take your sleeping bag and pillow. They do have some screen openings at the top, so depending on when you go it can get chilly at night. There is one electric outlet in the cabin, so you can use that as you see fit. Each cabin also has a screened in front porch. It's a lot of fun to go out on the porch in the middle of the night and just listen to the animals. There is a community bathhouse and restroom building that everyone camping there shares.
There are eight miles of trails on Hontoon Island, so whether you are camping or just going for a few hours, you can do some hiking. One hike will lead you back to a large old beautiful tree. The other one, the wet trail, takes you up atop an old native shell mound. Both are nice hikes, but if you only have time for one of them then go see the shell mound. That hike is around three miles round trip. We've hiked it numerous times and it's nice. This last weekend we did it again and it was wet (it is called the wet trail, after all). It's the first time we've taken it and it was so wet. Our shoes did get a bit muddy, but it was worth it, still a nice hike. It's not a difficult hike at all, but if there are patches of wet and mud you will need to work your way around them the best you can (or go through them and take the mud head on).
Since the wet trail was so wet (we had been getting rain in the days leading up to our hike), we used it to hike up to the end of the trail. When you reach the end there is a big beautiful tree and a bench that says "trail ends here." On the way back down we made a right turn, taking the service road back to avoid all the mud. The service road still offers beautiful views (you can see the pictures with the service road below). Below you will see pictures on the trail going up and on the service road coming back. The trail is an out and back, not a loop.
We saw two snakes on our hike this past weekend, including a pigmy rattlesnake, and what I think is a rat snake, but I'm not sure (it's pictured below, so please correct me if I'm wrong).
Hontoon Island State Park offers free admission. Right now they are requiring a face mask to go across on the boat or to go inside any of the buildings, but you won't need it while hiking. Add this place to your list of hiking spots you want to check out, or camping trips you want to plan. It's a great place!
You can read more about our camping experience there on my other blog here.