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Paynes Creek Historic State Park

888 Lake Branch Road
863-375-4717

During the 1840s, tensions between the settlers and Seminole Indians prompted authorities to establish a trading post in Florida´s interior, away from settlements.

Built in early 1849, the post was attacked and destroyed by renegade Indians that summer. In late 1849 Fort Chokonikla was built nearby as the first outpost in a chain of forts established to control the Seminoles. The Seminoles never attacked the fort, but the Army was nearly defeated by mosquitoes.

Today, nature enthusiasts and hikers can enjoy walking along trails through the park's natural areas. Paynes Creek and the adjoining Peace River provide opportunities for canoeing, kayaking and fishing. A museum at the visitor center depicts the lives of Florida's Seminole Indians and pioneers during the 19th century. The visitor center is open 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Thursday through Monday.

Experiences

Bicycling
Visitors can enjoy a leisurely bicycling experience along the park main drive and through most of the parks nature trails. Bicycles are not available for rent from the park. Safe operation of bicycles in the park is encouraged.  Helmets are highly recommended for all cyclists and Florida law requires helmets for cyclists age 16 and under.

Birding
Paynes Creek Historic State Park is part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, a program of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.  The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail consists of a network of 515 sites throughout Florida selected for their excellent birdwatching, wildlife viewing or educational opportunities. The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail is a 2,000-mile, self-guided highway trail designed to conserve and enhance Florida's wildlife habitats by promoting birding and wildlife viewing activities, conservation education and economic opportunity.

Camping, Primitive Group
The primitive youth group camping area is located near Payne Creek and accommodates up to 30 tent campers. The campground includes a fire ring with benches, a portable toilet, a pavilion and picnic tables. No water or electric service is available. Reservations are required and tax exempt status, if applicable, should be provided at the time of the reservation. Call the park for reservations at (863) 375-4717.

Hammock camping is allowed in this camping area.

Fishing
Fishing is allowed in designated areas. We encourage safe and responsible fishing activities. Peace River will challenge the best angler. Fish commonly seen include largemouth bass, catfish, and migrating snook. We encourage the proper disposal of monofilament line and use of recycle containers when available.

All fishing within the park must conform to regulations concerning size, number, method of capture and season.  A fishing license may be required.  More information is available at the Florida Wildlife Commission’s Fishing in Florida.

Hiking
Hiking trails are available. Park trails meander through several of Florida's natural plant communities and provide access to the park's historic sites.

Picnicking
Picnic tables with grills are available.

Wildlife Viewing
Wildlife viewing is possible at this park. With several natural communities, deer, bobcats, various snakes and lizards, alligators, and beautiful butterflies can often be seen all year. Winter visitors can see numerous migratory bird species that make Paynes Creek their winter home. On rare ocassions, Florida black bear pass through and Florida panther sightings have been reported. We encourage visitors to share their wildlife sightings with park staff.

Amenities

Canoe Kayak Launch
Canoe and kayak launch area provides direct access to the Peace River. Launch access requires obtaining gate combination from ranger station.

Playground
Playground is located in the picnic offers slides and swings.

Restroom Facilities
ADA accessible restrooms with an infant changing table for family accommodations are available at the Visitor Center.

Historic Site
In 1978, Paynes Creek was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The park offers viewing of the Fort Chokonikla site, Captain George S. Payne and Dempsey Whiddon Monument, and the Kennedy-Darling Trading Store Site where Captain Payne and Dempsey Whiddon were both killed by Seminoles.

Interpretive Exhibit
The visitor center offers a self-guided tour of the park's cultural history with a video program depicting the historical events of 1849-50 and the exhibits provide each visitor with an intimate experience of the historical events that placed Paynes Creek Historic State Park on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Pets
We allow pets and require they remain on leash. Pet waste disposal bags are available and we encourage their use. Pets are not allowed in the Visitor Center. Service animals are allowed in all areas of the park.

Picnic Pavilion
Three pavillions with grills and water with tables that seat up to 40 people can be rented for $30.00 plus tax. Electric is also available.

Visitor Center
The visitor center offers a self-guided tour of the park's cultural history with a video program depicting the historical events of 1849-50 and the exhibits provide each visitor with an intimate experience of the historical events that placed Paynes Creek Historic State Park on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Ranger programs are available for both natural and cultural interpretive programs with reservation. Call the park office at (863) 375-4717 to plan a guided tour or schedule educational programs for school groups.


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