Bradley Arnold

Bradley Arnold

While it’s outdoor weather pretty much year-round in Sumter County, people tend to increase their outdoor activities in the spring and summer. That means more people are using Sumter County parks and recreation areas, many of which offer a variety of services and benefits. Many Sumter County parks have pavilions available for use. They are available on a first-come, first serve basis. Parks also are open from sunrise to sunset.

A quick look at Sumter County Parks

Lake Panasoffkee Recreation Park: Located at 1589 CR 459 in Lake Panasoffkee, the park offers a wide range of amenities. Baseball and softball fields, basketball courts, fitness and biking trails, a walking track, soccer fields, various multi-purpose fields, tennis courts, volleyball and a skateboard park are here. In addition, the park contains a pavilion, picnic areas, playground, restrooms, grills, meeting rooms and a concession stand for rent. Many of these amenities get scheduled weeks and months ahead of time, so it’s recommended to reserve as early as possible. The concession stand is equipped with a flat top griddle, freezer, grill, ice machine, refrigerator, sink and water.

Lake Miona Park: Located at 10501 CR 115, just off CR 472 E in Oxford, this nearly 5-acre park features the 400-acre Lake Miona. The park features a boat ramp, fishing, grills, horseshoe pit, pavilion, pet area, picnic tables, playground and restrooms. In addition, canoes are available for rent free of charge. You just need to have a Sumter County Library card and reserve the canoe(s) through the library.

Lake Okahumpka Park: This 130-acre park located at 6085 E. SR 44 in Wildwood, offers a variety of activities and amenities. For the sports minded, there are bike trails and mountain bike trails, as well as volleyball and a Frisbee golf course and horseshoe pit. The park also features a boat ramp for the 670-acre lake, pavilion, grill, picnic areas, playground and restrooms round out the amenities. Free canoe rental also is an option for those with a Sumter County Library card.

Shady Brook Greenway Park: This 84-acre park at 230 County Road 470 N in Lake Panasoffkee features a boat ramp, fishing, picnic areas, grills, pet area, restrooms and a Frisbee golf course. Free canoe rental is available through the Sumter County Library.

Rutland Park: Located at 6805 W. SR 44 at Lake Panasoffkee, this park offers a boat ramp, picnic areas and grills.

Marsh Bend “Outlet” Park: Also located at Lake Panasoffkee, the Marsh Bend Park features a boat ramp, fishing, grilling, picnic areas and a pet area. The park also has access to a hiking trail. Through the Sumter County Library, free canoe rental is available. Marsh Bend Park is located at 3100 CR 413, Lake Panasoffkee.

Roy “Bug” Story Park: This park located at 1225 C-478A in Webster features a 93-acre lake. Amenities include a boat ramp, fishing, grilling, picnic areas and a pavilion.

Croom-A-Coochee Park: Also located in Webster at 4870 CR687 N, this 2.6-acre park features baseball and softball fields, basketball courts, a pavilion, grills, picnic areas, playground and restrooms.

In addition, the Coleman Landing Boat Ramp is located at 61 CR 514 in Wildwood. There are three canoe lengths to choose from to rent: 14-foot, 16-foot and 18-foot. Only two riders are allowed on the 14- and 16-foot canoes. Three can ride on the 18-foot canoe. There must be lifejackets for each rider, with life jackets sized for the individual and not the canoe. The weight of the individual(s) must not exceed the manufacturer’s weight limit rating for the canoe.

Liquor is not allowed in the canoes, and all garbage must be cleaned out from the canoes upon finish. Garbage is not to be tossed in the lakes or rivers. Individuals will be charged for any damage to the canoe(s) and if any life vest, paddle or key is not returned.

Renting or using various playing fields or meeting rooms are free of charge for Sumter County resident only, said Michael Jara, assistant director of facilities and parks, Sumter County Public Works. In addition, he recommends providing as much accurate information as possible when making a reservation, so that a member of the facilities team can make contact in case of an emergency.

“I would recommend visiting the facility prior to the event to make sure it meets your needs,” he added.

For interested campers, only primitive camping is permitted at approved campgrounds and parks of Marsh Bend, Wahoo and Lake Okahumpka. Campfires are only permitted in fire rings and must be completely extinguished before leaving. It is advised to have water and/or fire extinguisher handy to put fire out or in case of emergency. If an emergency arises, call 911.

The Public Works parks and facility services division constructs new facilities using sustainable, proactive maintenance and building practices. They also prioritize customer service and facility conditions. From the inception of the design to the maintenance of the building, Public Works strives to build and maintain Sumter County’s buildings in the most cost-effective manner.

Some of the maintenance and landscaping procedures for county-maintained parks include:

Fertilizing, landscaping and mowing park land as well as spraying herbicides and insecticides;

Cleaning and maintaining public restrooms and community buildings associated with the county’s parks;

Maintaining all baseball, softball, and multi-purpose fields that are in the county’s parks;

Maintaining all county-owned park playground equipment to meet safety standards as set forth by the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM); and

Maintaining approximately 121 buildings and structures to include the courthouse, government offices, fire stations, community centers, libraries, animal control, which includes county-owned office buildings, rentals, leases and warehouses.

To rent a canoe, contact the Sumter County Library at 352-689-4567 or visit https://bit.ly/3vP4VsB.

This link provides information needed to follow Sumter County boating regulations: https://myfwc.com/boating/regulations.

To rent the concession stand at Lake Panasoffkee, go to https://bit.ly/39pYe8R.

To camp, visit https://bit.ly/3ktuBpa.

Guest columns are the opinion of the writer, not necessarily that of the Sumter News Sun.

Recommended for you