Lake City, Florida’s Springlands is blessed with several freshwater lakes that are ideal places for boating, paddling, swimming and fishing. Some of them are perfect for taking a stroll by placid waters, or having a seat on a bench and just relaxing. Others take you out in the wild.
Let’s have a look.
Located in the historic residential district of Lake City, this charming lake has been a hub of the area for many years. It’s an excellent spot for a picnic, or just sitting on the shoreline, taking in the view, getting some sun — or getting some shade under towering oak trees filled with Spanish moss. Take a stroll through the Historic District, and have a look at its 145 historic buildings, most of which are private homes. Anglers can cast a line and catch a variety of fish — including several species of bass, rainbow trout, bluegill and more.
Less than a mile south of downtown, Lake Montgomery (formerly known as Lake Hamburg) is a favorite in-town fishing spot, where you can catch bluegill, bass catfish and more from a boat, kayak, or on the shoreline. The lake features paved parking, a boat ramp, a wooden dock and a boardwalk that runs through the generous amount of surrounding greenspace.
Alligator Lake Park
Three miles south of downtown, Alligator Lake hugs a large park on the north and west sides. The lake has long been a gathering place for locals and visitors. You can take a kayak or canoe ride (there’s a dedicated launch) into the wetlands for a close-up view of wildlife, drop in a fishing line, or simply lounge by the banks and enjoy the sights. The 800-acre park has a picnic area and playground, but its biggest draw is an extensive network of hiking trails — short ones that are great for laid-back strolls to see birds and other wildlife, as well as longer loops for more vigorous walks.
A half-mile north of Lake Isabella, in the heart of downtown Lake City, you’ll find oval-shaped Lake DeSoto, with a large fountain in the middle. The lake is rimmed by a street called Lakedesoto Circle, inside of which are sections of thick green grass, trees and wildflowers, dotted with park benches. Bordering the lake to the east is a forested section that covers several blocks, providing more shade and a place to take a leisurely walk. Our feathered friends like to congregate at Lake DeSoto, so it’s an ideal spot for bird watching.
This pristine, 46-acre lake is just three-and-a-half miles west of downtown on the fringe of the Osceola National Forest. It’s a wide-open body of water full of wildlife and surrounded by a thick forest. The lake is only vehicle-accessible from NE Williams Street, which approaches from the west. Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by a large parking lot, a dock and a boat ramp. Anglers are most apt to catch largemouth bass, striped bass and bluegill.
The name doesn’t quite make sense, but that’s okay, because Ocean Pond — 12 miles west of downtown Lake City in Osceola National Forest — offers all sorts of outdoor fun. There’s even a small beach — Olustee Beach. It may not be a Florida coastal beach, but it’s still a great spot to chill and wade into the water. Surrounded by forest, cypress scrub and lots of trees with hanging moss, Ocean Pond has a Southern, in-the-wilds type of feel. The lake is a popular camping spot. Several dedicated campsites right on the banks include RV hookups and boat ramps. At Ocean Pond, you’re close to civilization — but you’ll feel way out in the backwoods.