A Little History and a Great Future:
River Rise becomes a Horse camping Facility and the Volunteer Workers become a CSO
The birth of River Rise: shortly after the State of Florida acquired the beautiful McLeod property, active volunteers at the main Park who happened to be horse owners inquired about the possibility of riding trails on the new property. The park manager, also a horseman, recognized the potential for the heavily wooded acreage with white sand footing; what a perfect location for quiet riding trails where local equestrians could haul in for day rides. San Felaso Hammock State Preserve in Alachua began adding bridle paths, and interest was building at D.N.R. in Tallahassee (now D.E.P.) to have more state parks with horse trails.
The birth of Friends of O’Leno, Inc.: Soon the River Rise initiative became the “Little Dream that Grew”, and volunteer workers began to talk of forming an official Citizen Support Organization…a non-profit 501(c)(3) charter. The Friends of O’Leno, Inc. CSO was born in 1988. The fledgling group rolled up its sleeves and cleared a large staging area, then constructed three marked trail loops through the dense woods. Members and other volunteers built a 20-stall barn and restrooms with hot showers. Recently a sturdy pavilion was added for holding club meetings and picnics. Materials were paid for with money earned by Friends of O’Leno fundraisers, and after 12 years of hard work the beautiful campground is complete. River Rise fame has spread near and far by word of mouth. Now horsemen from near and far use the park, one or two riders to huge groups and clubs, and a handy stop-over for South Florida equestrians hauling out-of-state.