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Truly stunning to look at, Lake Como is a dazzling body of water in Putnam County Florida. It is considered oligotrohpic, meaning that it is unusually clear and blue in color - supporting very few plant and fish species. Lake Como is a natural, freshwater lake featuring a surface area of 245 acres and an average depth of 10 feet. The local community, originally named Lake Woodland, was founded in 1871. Its name was officially changed to Lake Como shortly thereafter, presumably for its resemblance to a similar lake in Lombardy, Italy.
Lake Como is dwarfed in size by its massive eastern neighbor, Lake Crescent. Anglers love fishing Lake Crescent, a 15,962-acre body of water brimming with largemouth bass, bream, bluegill and crappie. For bass and crappie, fishing aficionados should hit Weidernoch or Shell Hill Point. To the north, Dunns Creek flows for seven miles until turning into St. John's River; both waterways are legendary for their thriving catfish populations. Interestingly enough, St. John's is also one of the few rivers in the United States that runs due north.
Welaka State Forest, maintained by the Florida Division of Forestry, is a gorgeous woodland area located to the west of Lake Como. The protected zone provides a habitat for plants, birds and animals like longleaf pines, owls and deer. Facilities include campsites, picnic areas, and a dining hall. Numerous hiking trails are accessible from the park, most notably the two-mile Mud Spring Trail and the Sandhill Horse Trail; the latter of which is perfect for walking and horseback riding. Multiple training and show-horse arenas can host up to 72 equine creatures.
Just next door you'll find the Welaka National Fish Hatchery and Aquarium, established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1938. Composed of 54 acres of water, the unit raises striped bass, largemouth bass and sturgeon fish for six states. A government entity, it is also concerned with public education, as demonstrated by a 25-tank scholastic aquarium on display for public viewing. Hiking on the 3/4-mile interpretive trail and exploring the nature observation tower are other fun activities at the hatchery. Bird watching is also ideal, and visitors can hope to see cranes, bald eagles, white ibis, osprey and more.
Lake Como is a treasure trove of undiscovered environmental areas. To the west of this little lake lies the enormous Ocala National Forest, and to the southeast the Haw Creek Preserve State Park. Other areas of interest include the Dunns Creek, Crescent Lake, Lake George, and Murphy Creek Conservation Areas. Rich in both plant and wildlife, nature enthusiasts will never tire of exploring the region's abundant lakes and tranquil trails.
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