February 2010: Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park

Tallahassee, Florida

This land was part of a land grant to the Marquis de Lafayette in 1825 and settled by tenant farmers and plantation employees through the 19th century. Remnants of historic home sites and shacks can still be spotted on the Lake Overstreet property. In 1923, Alfred Maclay, a prosperous New York money man, came to Tallahassee’s Red Hills and bought a winter home on the shores of Lake Hall. He named his new family retreat Killearn Plantation and Gardens after his ancestral home in Scotland. An enthusiastic gardener, Maclay quickly set about planting camellias, azaleas, magnolias and other ornamentals under the towering pines and spreading live oaks that had thrived on the property for decades. The beauty of his gardens gained national acclaim. Maclay died in 1944 and nine years later his wife, Louise, donated the gardens to the state. Most importantly for dog owners, the State of Florida acquired over 1000 acres of pristine woodlands around the adjoining Lake Overstreet in 1994. 


Canine hikers have a choice of how to attack the Overstreet Trail system in this beautiful park. For dogs looking for a modest outing of less than an hour, choose the Ravine Trail, best accessed from Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park. Here, the loop, almost universally level and traversed on wide, hard-packed, paw-friendly trails, covers a bit less than two miles. The star walk at Maclay Gardens is the circumnavigation of the secluded Lake Overstreet. Once you start out on this journey you sign on for the entire three-mile trip. The Lake Trail can be reached from either the parking lot in the gardens or the lot on Meridian Street. Aside from open air hiking down a power cut, the going is almost universally shaded for your dog here. There are views of the lake and down adjoining ravines as you pass. 

Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park is located .5 miles north of I-10 on U.S. 319.