Over Labor Day weekend we decided to shoot over to Live Oak, FL to tour a recently built treehouse for one of those construction shows on a TV channel we don’t get. Calling ahead I found out that we didn’t need reservations for the tour even on a holiday weekend and the price was $8/person for a 15-30 minute tour.
We’d never been to The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park and so we got a brief look at the place as we drove to a back corner of it where the treehouse is located. If we were fans of country music, this would be a great place to come and hang out as they have concerts going throughout the year. Clearly other people think the same way as they have numerous cabins that people purchase as second homes dotted around the property.
There are many activities listed on the website but the ones that piqued our interest were canoeing the Suwannee and getting to sleep in a treehouse (different than the one we were there to tour). It’s a shame they don’t rent kayaks but I’d forgo that to canoe here because they drop you off upstream, you only travel downstream, and you finish at the boat ramp right on the Music Park’s property (so no lengthy travel time at the end of the trip). I have no idea if this is a great section of the Suwannee to paddle but it is at the top of the list for first time trips for me just because of convenience. Besides hiking the AT, paddling the entire Suwannee is a dream of mine. I think we will be back.
Once we had stopped in at the office and purchased our tickets we proceeded straight down the park’s main road until it practically touched the river. There was plenty of gravel parking and lots of signs guiding us down the correct footpath to the treehouse. Once at the gate, our very friendly guide took our tickets and we watched a short video of the property owner explaining the history of the park, why this treehouse was built, and how it was constructed. It was well done, interesting, and just the right length of time. After that we climbed the lower staircase to the platform beneath the treehouse which I thought was clever and extremely useful. It allows any tradesmen easy access to plumbing, electrical, and a/c systems as well as any type of inspection that would be necessary for structural components of the treehouse. Foolishly, I didn’t photograph this part of the climb.
On this platform our guide talked us through the bolt system used to attach the treehouse to the tree. It was developed by the granddaddy of treehouse designers and builders (You can learn more about him and his “treesort” in Oregon and see more cool treehouse pix here.) and is used on all major treehouse construction today if for no other reason than it is REALLY time consuming to get treehouse hardware legally approved. Since it has been in use, it has been shown to extend the life of the host tree. That seems so counter intuitive until you learn that the multi-trunk trees used for treehouses usually begin to split apart under their own weight, allow water in, rot, and finally die. A treehouse actually anchors the limbs together in one structure.
After seeing the house from the underside, it was time to climb the spiral staircase up to the front door. The entire house is built of pine, which really surprised me. I assumed Cyprus siding would have been used but the structural pine was shipped in from the treeman’s shop in Oregon and the siding was milled on site from local pine trees.
Once inside we saw the reason for the house’s location. It has little windows peeking through the trees giving different views of the Suwannee below. The guide says he is just a volunteer but loves the job because sitting in house or on the swing below it is extremely peaceful.
We both loved the house and I could tell you more about it but just look at the pictures I grabbed with my phone below. If you are in the Jacksonville area, it is less than an hour and a half away and well worth your time.