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30 January 2015

The Brighter Side Of Boondocking

Scamper at Hagens Cove2

We had the most amazing boondocking experience the other day at Hagen’s Cove, which is part of the Big Bend Wildlife Refuge located in the panhandle region of Florida. After our previous experience parking overnight at a municipal parking lot in Panama City (click here to read about it), it was such a pleasure to discover what boondocking is like when you’re camped out in the great outdoors.

There wasn’t any cunning plan to go boondocking at Hagen’s Cove. It was one of those places we just stumbled upon. They’re often the best kind. We saw a dirt road, turned down it and ended up in a little slice of paradise. 

Hagens Cove2

Hagens Cove Palm Trees

I imagine Hagen’s Cove is a popular place for birders and picnickers. Part of the Florida Birding Trail runs through the area. We tried walking down one of the trails, but it was pretty swampy due to the recent rains. So we turned back – I’m not a big fan of wet feet.

Hagens Cove Pavillion

Hagens Cove Swampy Path

We were never 100% sure if it was okay to boondock at Haven’s Cove. We didn’t see any signs that said the refuge was closed after sunset or notices prohibiting overnight parking/camping. We looked online to see if we could find anything out about camping there, but drew a blank. A Sherriff's car made a circuit of Hagen’s Cove a couple of times checking to make sure there weren’t any kids getting up to mischief. Scott stopped the deputy and asked her if she knew if it was okay to stay overnight. She said she wasn’t sure if you could. She personally wouldn’t toss us out, but couldn’t vouch for whoever was on duty at night and what stance they might take. We decided to chance it. Fortunately, no one knocked on the door in the middle of the night to roust us out.

Sometimes you just have to take a chance – most of the time it pays off. Like this time. Which meant we got to enjoy our coffee on the observation tower while watching the birds scampering about in the water the next morning. The horizon and the water were the exact same color. It was hard to tell where one began and the other left off.

Hagens Cove Horizon

While a few people drove down to Hagen’s Cove, the only people that stuck around were duck hunters. Sadly, they didn’t have any luck. We were hoping for a handout of duck meat to put on the grill. But, I imagine the duck hunters were more disappointed than us, given that they had come from Georgia to hunt there.

Hagens Cove Hunters

If you aren’t familiar with the term boondocking, it is basically dry camping (i.e., no water, electric, sewage connections). Lots of folks boondock for days, if not weeks, at a time. Some have systems in place to provide power (e.g., solar or generators), while others do without anything that requires electricity. Whether you need power or not, everyone needs a water supply and a way to store their gray water (from dishwashing, showers etc) and do something with their black water (basically sewage). We have pretty small tanks in our Scamp travel trailer, so we’re pretty limited by how long we can stay out. But with our experience living on a small sailboat, we’ve learned a few tricks to make our water supply last and live with limited power. Hopefully, we’ll get some more boondocking opportunities, like our time at Hagen’s Cove, to put them to the test.

What’s been your favorite boondocking experience?


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We took our chances boondocking at Hagen's Cove on 24 January 2015.
 



8 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. It was really special! We've been loving our time exploring Florida - so many beautiful places! Hope winter isn't being too brutal for you guys :-)

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  2. Do you have the coordinates for this place?

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    1. Hi Linda - unfortunately we don't have GPS in our vehicle. The most sizable town near there is Perry. If you pick up Hwy 27A from there it will take you to County Road 361 and you'll find the access road to Hagen's Cove off of there. Someone else has found a section on the Big Bend site which says you can't camp there, but it is still a great place for a day trip :-)

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    2. 29°46'20.3"N 83°34'46.9"W

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  3. What a find!!!!! Sometimes it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission. Oh well, you tried and made the best decision...places that beautiful should be enjoyed and you all did!!!

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    1. That was our theory - glad that we didn't end up having to ask for forgiveness :-)

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