Santa Fe River Rise at River Rise Preserve State Park
Santa Fe River Rise at River Rise Preserve State Park
The horse barn at River Rise Preserve State Park

River Rise Preserve State Park got the name from the rising of the Santa Fe River. The river flows into a sinkhole in O'Leno State Park and travels three miles underground through the karst topography before re-emerging on the surface in River Rise Preserve. That land bridge has seen human use for travel and trade for thousands of years. The Spanish missionaries traveled an old Indian trail across the area as they moved between St. Augustine, Tallahassee and Pensacola.

In 1824, after the United States took possession of Florida, John Bellamy was contracted by the Federal Government to build a road along the same route. Parts of that route are still evident today, and still called the Bellamy Road. But when the railroads came, they bypassed this area and the population dropped off. About 4,500 acres were purchased here by the State of Florida in 1974. That is what is now known as River Rise Preserve State Park.

The park has often been used by universities for doing geological studies of the karst geology and topography. Florida State Parks has mostly built trails with a barn, primitive campsites, restrooms and picnic facilities on the property. There's no visitor center, electrical hookups or designated swimming areas. Often these days, River Rise Preserve State Park is the site of trail challenges, competitive trail rides and endurance rides. There are 35 miles of marked and maintained trails now for horseback riders, hikers and bikers. Recently, a trailhead was added beside US Highway 41/441 for the convenience of day riders.

River Rise Preserve State Park is open for day use from 8 am until sunset every day of the year. O'Leno State Park is located six miles north of High Springs on US Highway 441. The entrance to River Rise Preserve State Park is on US Highway 27, about two miles west of High Springs. Equestrians will need proof of a negative Coggins test before bringing their horses onto the property.