Springs Fever: A Field & Recreation Guide to 500 Florida Springs.
2nd Edition by Joe Follman and Richard Buchanan

VIII.  Ocala National Forest, Silver Springs, & Environs



With a couple of exceptions, the springs described in this section all feed the St. Johns River in north central Florida.  They are mostly well known and accessible, although a few require some work and clear directions to reach.  The majority are also long-standing swimming and/or recreation areas with state or federal protection.

The Ocala National Forest is at the heart of this region.  It comprises close to half a million acres or 781 square miles of forest, scrub, springs, lakes, prairies, and creeks between the Ocklawaha and St. Johns Rivers.  Semi-protected (logging and development are allowed in the forest) since 1908, it was the first national forest designated east of the Mississippi River (Ocala Forest Times, Spring 1995, p. 8).  For many years before it became a national forest, the dry scrub and sand pine ecosystem was considered as worthless'”a wasteland. Famed 18th century naturalist and writer William Bartram was singularly unimpressed, writing off the area an "almost endless view of a vast barren desert, altogether impenetrable" (Bartram, 1928).  It is worth noting, however, that Bartram made this observation at the end a day during which he had been attacked by alligators!

Today, the region is a huge and somewhat odd patchwork of forest, tree farming, recreation areas, private land, national scenic trails, wilderness areas, and even a U.S. Naval bombing range.  Driving through the main arteries of the national forest'”State Roads 19 and 40'”one will see extensive areas that have been clear-cut.  There are several types of pine tree in the national forest, as well of oak, cypress, gum, bay, and palm trees (Long, 2001).  There are approximately 30 small or large campgrounds; swim areas; foot, horse, bike, ATV, and canoe trails; a shooting range; picnic areas; three visitor centers, and information stations.  Nearly 70 miles of the Florida National Scenic Trail is in the national forest.

Although the once-dominant panther and buffalo are long gone, the area remains a vital habitat for many birds and mammals including the black bear, scrub jay, bobcat, coyotes, the large Sherman'™s fox squirrel, bald eagle, otters, and tanagers.  As noted in Long (2001, p. 1 Travel) 66 bears were killed in the national forest in 2000, and there were almost 2,000,000 human visitors.

For the spring aficionado, the Ocala National Forest is the home of six must-see, unique, and beautiful springs'”Alexander, Fern Hammock, Juniper, Salt, Silver Glen, and Sweetwater.  Alexander and Silver Glen Springs are first magnitude and the largest springs protected in the federal system.  All the springs have public access, although Sweetwater requires some paddling to reach or the luck of winning an annual lottery to be able to spend a week at a cabin perched beside it.

Just west of the national forest toward Ocala is Silver Springs, perhaps the most famous of all Florida Springs.  If river rises and spring groups/clusters are not counted, Silver is probably the largest single clear-water spring in Florida.  Although now owned by the State of Florida, it continues to be run as an attraction on a long-term concession contract.  Of the other springs in the region, DeLeon Springs has a rich past mirroring the history of the Sunshine State.  The Ocala National Forest springs are listed first, followed by a small section noting the 20 springs that are currently inundated by the Rodman Reservoir on the northern border of the national forest, and finally with other springs in the region listed in alphabetical order.
 
 

Part VIII Contents

          A. Ocala National Forest Springs
               Alexander Spring
               Fern Hammock Springs
               Juniper Springs
               Salt Springs
               Silver Glen Springs
               Sweetwater Spring

          B. Ocklawaha River Springs
               Blue Spring, Bright Angel Spring, Catfish Spring, Cedar Landing Spring, Unnamed Spring #1, Unnamed Spring #2, Sim'™s Spring,
               Unnamed Spring #3, Bud Spring, Mullet Cover Spring, Indian Bluff Spring, Unnamed Spring #4, Cannon Springs (6), Unnamed Spring
               #5, Dudley Spring

          C.  Silver Springs Group

          D.  Other North-Central Florida Springs
               Bouleware Spring
               Camp La-No-Che Spring
               DeLeon Spring
               Glen Spring
               Magnesia Spring
               Orange Spring
 
 

A.  Ocala National Forest Springs

Alexander Springs
Lake County

Summary of Features
Scale'”1st magnitude
Scenery'”excellent
How Pristine?'”beach and camp area on one side; other sides and spring very natural
Swimming'”fine, unsurpassed snorkeling/skin-diving
Protection'”excellent
Crowds'”heavy on warm weekends
Access'”excellent
Facilities'”excellent
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”$3 per person

Directions
From the intersection of State Roads 19 and 40 in the Ocala National Forest, drive south on SR 19 about 9 miles and turn left (NE) on SR 445 and go about five miles to the well-signposted entrance to the Alexander Springs Recreation Area.

SFor maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

pring Description
The spring is set in a low area with thick sub-tropical forest on two sides and pines and hardwoods in a camping area on the other. The spring pool is a large semi-circle about 200 feet across and forming the headwaters of Alexander Creek. Water flows from a cavernous opening near the middle of the pool. The depth of the pool gradually increases to about 6 feet over the course of 60 feet. The bottom in this shallow portion is sandy. There is then a 40-foot-wide fringe of aquatic vegetation before the bottom falls away suddenly to reveal a large open area of exposed and sand-covered limestone rock and boulders. The area forms a sunlit trench that is 45 feet long, 10-25 feet wide, and about 28 feet deep. Water flows strongly from a large opening on the bottom on the beach side of the spring. Water in the spring is very clear and can be bright blue over the vent area. Flow from the spring creates a large and powerful surface boil that is readily visible from the shore.

Fish, including bluegill, may be observed swimming among the aquatic plants and over the trench. The spring run narrows outside the pool and winds first SE then NE a total of about 25 miles to the St. Johns River in the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge. There is abundant wildlife in the run, including alligators.

Use/Access

Local Springiana Personal Impressions
Alexander is JF'™s favorite spring for snorkeling and skin-diving. Because the spring pool is so wide, the exposed limestone area near the vent is not shaded except for very late and early in the day. The deep portions are bright and clear, inviting a plunge to the bottom. And because this area is large, well away from the beach, and in deep water, it is not "over-swum" with swimmers.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features Contact Information
Ocala National Forest Visitor Center
10863 E. Highway 40
Silver Springs, FL 34488
352-625-7470 or 352-669-3522
 
 



Fern Hammock Springs
Marion County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”excellent
How Pristine?'”bridge over main pool, undergrowth cleared around spring, campground and trails near spring, mostly natural
Swimming'”no
Protection'”excellent
Crowds'”small
Access'”excellent
Facilities'”fine nearby
Safety'”excellent
Scuba'”no
Cost'”$3 per person

Quick Directions
In campground at Juniper Springs Recreation Area in the Ocala National Forest.

Full Directions
Located in the middle of the campground at the Juniper Springs Recreation Area. To reach the recreation area (which is clearly signposted), drive 5 miles east of the junction of State Roads 19 and 40 on SR 40. The recreation area is on the north side. Ask for directions to the spring at the Juniper pay station. Fern Hammock is about ¼ mile east of Juniper Springs.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
The spring pool is roughly oblong and 60 by 150 feet in diameter. A wooden footbridge arches over the center of the pool. On either side of the bridge, at depths of 3-8 feet, are several large (up to 10 feet in diameter) white sand boils. Two-three dozen smaller sand boils are also visible. Individual sand boils are circular, while overlapping boils and boil clusters form non-uniform shapes with rounded edges. The water is clear in the spring and can be greenish or blue. In contrast to the water and the aquatic vegetation, the boils take on a glowing appearance in the sunlight and present a striking visual effect.

The spring forms a shallow run that flows about 200 yards into Juniper Creek. There are trails along the run, and more sand boils can be observed in the run. Water in the run is also clear, and Rosenau et al. (1977), report that the water flowing from Fern Hammock Springs is very low in dissolved solids (p. 261).

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
The authors had each been to Juniper twice before realizing Fern Hammock was just a few minutes'™ walk away. The spring is unique and appealing for its huge sand boils that seem to have an otherworldly gleam.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features Contact Information
Ocala National Forest Visitor Center
10863 E. Highway 40
Silver Springs, FL 34488
352-625-7470
 
 



Juniper Springs
Marion County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”excellent
How Pristine?'”pool surrounded by concrete/rock wall and sidewalk, partially cleared park/picnic area, adjacent to old mill
Swimming'”fine
Protection'”excellent
Crowds'”heavy on warm weekends
Access'”excellent
Facilities'”excellent
Safety'”fine
Scuba'”no
Cost'”$3 per person, additional fee to canoe run

Directions
The spring entrance is clearly signposted and is about 5 miles east of the junction of State Roads 19 and 40 on the north side of SR 40 in the Ocala National Forest.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
The springs are in a park setting in a hardwood and palmetto palm forest. Two vents have been surrounded by a concrete and rock wall forming a gourd-shaped pool that is about 125 feet long. The north (downstream) end of the pool is about 50 feet wide, and the rounded south end is about 80 feet wide. The overall depth of the pool is 8-10 feet, but there is a shallow area in the south end for children and for wading. One spring vent is at the shallow end near the steps. Water flows strongly out of a 2-foot limestone opening, blowing small pebbles in an underwater cascade. The water is clean and clear and the vent is about 15 feet deep.

The second vent is near the center of the pool and is similar to the first vent except for being slightly smaller and not as strong. It is about 13 feet deep and also issues clear and clean water. The flow points are easy to spot as dark blue openings among the green vegetation and white sand in the rest of the pool. Minnows and eels may be observed in the main pool. Three sets of steps lead into the pool at the south end, and people can leap into the water from the top of the retaining wall on the north end.

At the NE corner of the pool is a small dam designed to raise the pool depth and create a flume that was used for many years to turn a small mill and generate electricity for the recreation site. The run meanders for perhaps 150 feet in an area of lush subtropical vegetation. This section has several small and large sand boils that add to the volume of the flow. Other seeps and flows add to the volume from the main pool. The upper run is less than 10 feet wide and only a few inches deep. There are trails along the run until it reaches a wooden platform from which canoers put in to paddle down Juniper Creek. The creek flows 10 miles to the lower end of Lake George, one of the chain of lakes along the St. Johns River. The creek is shallow, virtually transparent in the upper portion, and lush with plants and trees. Otters, alligators, herons, and fish may be observed in the run.

Use/Access

Notes by RB on Canoeing Juniper Creek:
The creek is only about as wide as the canoe is long for much of the way. It starts off clear as glass and about 10 inches deep, with a lush canopy of trees overhead. Palm trees hang low across the stream, and canoers often have to bend low to pass under them. Gradually the water acquires a yellow tint from tannic acid, and eventually turns the color of tea, like so many other streams in Florida. Toward the end, the canopy disappears and reeds flank both sides, with dense forest beyond. Otters and alligators may be seen in the run.

The creek is said to have a large alligator population and paddlers are warned not to swim or wade in the stream. I saw no '˜gators and many people ignoring this advice. Memories of a news story kept me in the canoe. In fall 1997, at the lower end of the canoe trail, a snorkeler (who had snorkeled the creek three times that day) was attacked by a 12-foot alligator that bit him in the neck and punctured his lungs before he managed to free himself.

Toward the end of the trail, cars will be heard passing over the SR19 bridge at the take-out. A sign warns you not to wade in the water. You have to bend over to pass under the low bridge, and on a weekend you might see crowds of people swimming and wading on the other side of the bridge where you take the canoe out. Children can be seen dropping into the water from the rope swing on the north bank. A shuttle will return you to Juniper Springs. For a small fee, they will take you back even if you have used your own canoe.

Local Springiana

Personal Impressions
The blue pool, canopied by hardwoods and palmetto palms, is captivating. The old mill and trails behind the pool are just as interesting, and it is fun to explore the upper part of the run looking for sand boils. Because the spring is mostly shaded, swimming is a chilly experience on all but the hottest and sunniest of days. Juniper Creek, with its transparent water and narrow canopied waterway, simply begs to be paddled.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features Contact Information
Ocala National Forest Visitor Center
10863 E. Highway 40
Silver Springs, FL 34488
352-625-7470
 
 



Salt Springs
Marion County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”excellent
How Pristine?'”enclosed on three sides, land partially cleared around spring, exotic vegetation in spring and run
Swimming'”fine; unsurpassed snorkeling
Protection'”excellent
Crowds'”heavy on warm weekends
Access'”excellent
Facilities'”fine
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”not in spring area
Cost'”$3 per person

Directions
The entrance to the spring is well-signposted and is just north of the intersection of State Roads 314 and 19 in the town of Salt Springs on the east side of SR 19.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
The spring area is bracketed on three sides by a concrete wall that frames the pool into an open-ended rectangle that is about 90 by 120 feet. The general depth is 2-5 feet, but up to 20 feet deep at the several spring vents/pits that are scattered in the pool, mostly at the upper (west) end. The openings are in limestone boulders and are vertical shafts and passageways leading to smaller tunnels. The authors saw four-five vents on visits in 1995-1998, each creating a prominent boil on the surface. According to the recreation area brochure, there are actually 9 vertical shaft vents. The combined flow from these vents is around 52,000,000 gallons per day ("Salt Springs Recreation Area, 1999).

Water in the pool is very clear, blue, and is salty, the result of the water rising to the surface through ancient salt deposits. In places in the pool, there is a halocline visual distortion effect of salt and fresh water mixing. Fish, including striped bass, mullet, and small fry are abundant. In addition, blue crab and needlefish may be seen. The crabs are most commonly observed in the deeper portions of the spring openings. The marine life was established at the site millennia ago when this portion of Florida was part of a shallow sea. When the land rose upward, the marine creatures remained at the site because of the salty flow from the spring. The bottom has exposed limestone, small rocks, and sand as well as aquatic vegetation. There is exotic hydrilla in the pool.

Crowds can stir up the water, reducing visibility. The spring run is lined with tall reeds and flows about four miles to Lake George, part of the chain of lakes on the St. Johns River.

Use/Access

Local Springiana . . . in front, just under my feet, was the enchanting and amazing crystal fountain, which incessantly threw up, from dark, rocky caverns below, tons of water every minute, forming a basin, capacious enough for large shallops to ride in, and a creek of four or five feet of water, and near twenty yards, over, which meanders six miles into the great Lake George, where they seem to remain pure and unmixed. About twenty yards from the upper edge of the basin, is a continual and amazing ebullition, where the waters are thrown up in such abundance and amazing force, as to jet and swell up two or three feet above the common surface: white sand and small particles of shells are thrown up with the waters, near to the top, when they diverge from the center, subside with the expand flood, and gently sink again, forming a large rim or funnel round about the aperture or mouth of the fountain, which is a vast perforation through a bed of rocks, the ragged points of which are projected out on every side. . . But there are yet remaining scenes inexpressibly admirable and pleasing.

Behold, for instance, a vast circular expanse before you, the waters of which are so extremely clear as to be absolutely diaphanous or transparent as the ether; the margin of the basin ornamented with a great variety of fruitful and floriferous trees, shrubs, and plants, the pendant orange dancing on the surface of the pellucid waters, the balmy air vibrating with the melody of the merry birds, tenants of the encircling aromatic grove.

At the same instant innumerable fish are seen, some clothed in the most brilliant colors . . . all in intercourse performing their evolutions: there are no signs of enmity, no attempt to devour each other; the different bands seem peaceably and complaisantly to move a little aside, as it were to make room for the others to pass by.

But behold yet something far more admirable, see whole armies descending into an abyss, into the mouth of the bubbling fountain: they disappear! Are they gone for ever? I raise my eyes with terror and astonishment; I look down again to the fountain with anxiety, when behold them as it were emerging from the blue ether of another world, apparently at a vast distance; at their first appearance, no bigger than flies or minnows; now gradually enlarging, their brilliant colors begin to paint the fluid.

. . . This amazing and delightful scene, though real, appears at first but as a piece of excellent painting; there seems no medium; you imagine the picture to be within a few inches of your eyes, and that you may without the least difficulty touch any one of the fish, or put your finger upon the crocodile'™s eye, when it really is twenty or thirty feet under water (p. 149-50).

Personal Impressions
Salt is a spectacular spring. The retaining wall, built in 1946 and modified in the late 1990s, unnaturally frames but somehow does not significantly mar the natural beauty of the site. Its salty water, marine wildlife, good recreational facilities, and perches over the vents make it one of the best, most interesting and most appealing springs in Florida. Salt is also blessed by lovely spring neighbors (Silver Glen, Alexander, Silver, Sweetwater, Juniper, etc.). It is best to visit anytime but on a summer weekend, when crowds will be very large.

The amazing fountain Bartram observed (what must have been an especially pronounced boil), no longer occurs at Salt Spring. Several of the current flows have strong boils, but nothing like what Bartram described.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features Contact Information
Ocala National Forest Visitor Center
10863 E. Highway 40
Silver Springs, FL 34488
352-669-3522
 
 




Silver Glen Springs
Marion County

Summary of Features
Scale'”1st magnitude
Scenery'”fine
How Pristine?'”land cleared around springhead, fence and paths near water, houseboats in run, exotic tilapia in water
Swimming'”very good, deep water; snorkeling outstanding
Protection'”excellent
Crowds'”heavy on warm weekends
Access'”excellent
Facilities'”fine
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”$3 per person

Directions
The spring is six miles north of the junction of State Roads 19 and 40 along SR 19 in the middle of the Ocala National Forest. Look for signs for the spring recreation area on the east side of SR 19.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
Two main spring openings create a large pool about 250 feet across. Modified banks, a fence, and concrete walls frame the spring into a rough square. One spring, called the "Natural Well," is in the SW corner of the overall pool (to the right as one approaches the spring from the parking area). It is a cylindrical shaft, 15 feet in diameter, 40 feet deep, and thick with large, circling fish including striped bass and mullet. The 3-5 foot bottom around the spring is covered in eel grass. Water flowing from the Natural Well creates a visible slick at the surface and is very clear and blue. Fish swim in corkscrew patterns up and down the shaft. An employee at the spring said the Natural Well had a large resident alligator. A photograph of this '˜gator sitting on the bottom was on the wall of the concession shop when the authors visited in 1998.

The second and larger spring is about 60 feet from shore in the left center of the pool. Water flows from cavern openings. While the general spring pool is 5-7 feet deep, the bottom funnels down to the limestone openings about 20 feet deep. Water flows strongly up and out of the vents, "blowing" snail shells, sand, and fish that congregate near the openings. Striped bass and tilapia may be seen in the spring in large numbers, paying little heed to swimmers and divers. The water is blue and very clear except when stirred up by swimmers. The spring run is also fed by a small stream that has many small sand boils (Hartnett, 2000).

Land rises around the spring in an area of hardwood and pine forest. The area above the spring was burned in by wildfires in 1998, and many trees were scorched and killed. The pool forms a wide run that flows about 0.5 mile to Lake George, one of the chain of lakes along the St. Johns River. Many large houseboats anchor just outside the spring pool in warm months.

Use/Access

Local Springiana Personal Impressions
Silver Glen is a large, powerful, and attractive spring. The density of fish in the Natural Well is even greater than that at Homosassa Springs and gives a sense of the abundance of life that Florida'™s springs had before the advent of civilization. The spring is an excellent spot for snorkeling and exploring and is also blessed by lovely spring neighbors (Salt, Alexander, Silver, Sweetwater, Juniper, etc.). It is best to visit anytime but on a summer weekend, when crowds will be very large.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features Contact Information
Ocala National Forest Visitor Center
10863 E. Highway 40
Silver Springs, FL 34488
352-669-3522
 
 



Sweetwater Springs
Marion County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”excellent
How Pristine?'”house and cleared area near spring, otherwise very natural
Swimming'”excellent, excellent snorkeling
Protection'”outstanding
Crowds'”none
Access'”limited (see below)
Facilities'”none from water, furnished rental house on site
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”rental fee for house on spring

Directions
From the intersection of State Roads 40 and 19 in the Ocala National Forest, drive about three miles north on SR 19 to where the highway crosses Juniper Creek. Put in and canoe about 0.6 miles upriver to mouth of Sweetwater Spring run on the right and go a short distance (about 135 feet) to the spring.  Note:  a sign at the mouth of the spring run declares that one may not enter the spring basin.  Access by land limited to people who win a lottery to stay a week at the cabin on the creek.  The entrance to the spring by land is a 1-mile dirt drive a few hundred feet north of the bridge over Juniper Creek on the west side of the road.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
Sweetwater Spring consists of two main flows that form a single pool with rough overall dimensions of 75 by 40 feet in diameter. The larger flow is from beneath a limestone ledge in the central portion of the pool near the bank on the north side. The opening is about 2 feet long, 10 feet deep, and the flow creates a visible boil on the surface. The second vent is much smaller and is in the NW corner of the pool adjacent to the bank in about 4 feet of water. Water from the vents is clear and clean, and there is a blue tint over the vents. The bottom of the pool is mostly sandy, and there are small fish in the pool.

Land on the north side of the pool slopes up perhaps 15 feet above the water, and the bank is about 5 feet high. The south side is separated from Juniper Creek by a small peninsula and an island in the creek. The pool is almost completely canopied, and the lower portion is dominated by a large live oak that leans over the pool. This tree is buttressed by a wooden pillar to prevent it from falling into the pool. Flow from the pool exits at the SE end in a clear run that is 5-12 feet wide, 2-4 feet deep, and about 100 feet long before joining Juniper Creek.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
To have a spring all to oneself is every spring-lover'™s dream come true, and those who win the lottery for a stay at the Sweetwater cabin are able to do it. This lovely spring is a very peaceful, attractive, and contemplative setting'”the place the spring gods would go on vacation if there were such entities.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features Contact Information
Ocala National Forest Visitor Center
10863 E. Highway 40
Silver Springs, FL 34488
352-625-7470
 
 

B.  Ocklawaha River Springs

Characterized by poet Sydney Lanier in the 19th Century as "the sweetest water-lane in the world, a lane which runs for more than a hundred and fifty miles of pure delight," the Oklawaha River and its springs have a controversial past and an indeterminate future.  The 1968-1970 construction of the Rodman Dam and Reservoir flooded the Ocklawaha River and inundated at least 20 springs along its course.  The dam and reservoir were initial steps in an ambitious plan to build a canal across the neck of Florida for commerce.  This well-meaning idea had a breathtaking environmental impact, however, and was highly controversial.  After many years and protests by many including Archie and Marjorie Carr, the plan was ultimately stopped.  Some canals and the Rodman Reservoir, however, had already been built.  The reservoir flooded 9,000 acres and 16 miles of the Ocklawaha River.

Most of the springs along the Ocklawaha River had been identified by local residents and scientists and had been named before.  However, examination of 1943 aerial photographs of the Ocklawaha revealed several other springs that were either unknown or which had not been formally named and cataloged.

In 1993, the Florida Legislature passed a bill to study the possibility and impacts of fully or partially restoring the Ocklawaha River.  These studies continue, with enthusiastic support from environmental organizations which declare that the restored river will not only be environmentally advantageous but will also generate far more revenue'”through tourism and recreation'”than the reservoir which costs nearly $1,000,000 a year to maintain.  Such organizations note that Blue Spring--the largest spring along the river'”and its run could become a revenue-generating recreation site similar to nearby Juniper and Alexander Springs.  Portions of the canal right-of-way have also been converted into greenways and trails.

The table below, derived from a 1994 report from the St. Johns River Water Management District, provides some detail on the 20 known springs that are currently inundated by the Rodman Reservoir.  Blue Spring is the largest, with a measured flow of 10.6 cfs or about 7 MGD.  All the springs are in Marion County except for spring numbers 4, 5, 6, and 8 (see below) which are in Putnam County.

If/when the reservoir is drained and the river restored, there will be great interest among spring enthusiasts to see the springs flow naturally again.  JF was told that springs continue to flow within the lake.

Springs in and Along the Ocklawaha River Between Eureka and Rodman Dam*

#     Name            Size (approx.)                             Run                                     Notes
1     Blue               200'™ x 350'™, 22'™ deep                  5 miles, 40'™ wide, 6'™ deep   Largest spring along river
2     Bright Angel   30'™-diameter pool, 25'™ deep         2 runs
3     Catfish           50'™-diameter pool 100'™ long, 30'™ wide                                     Large volume, turbulent flow
4     Cedar Landing 8'-diameter pool 150'™ long
5     Unnamed        No pool, just orifice                                                                 No run
6     Unnamed        Cluster of several boils in rocky confluence No run
7     Sim'™s             No pool, flows out of cliff face      No run                                  Sheltered by coffer dam
8     Unnamed                                                                                                       Strong flow
9     Bud                 35'™-diameter pool                       650'™ long, 50'™ wide, 3'™feet deep
10   Mullet Cover 2 small boils
11   Indian Bluff                                                                                                      Clear flow from swamp
12   Unnamed           Small spring
13-18 Cannon (6) At least 3 large and 3 small springs; one a 50'™-diameter pool 200'™ in slough
19   Unnamed
20   Dudley

*Source--St. Johns River Water Management District, 1994, December 15.  'œEnvironmental Studies Concerning Four Alternatives for Rodman Reservoir and the Lower Ocklawaha River.'  Volume 20.  'œAnalysis of Habitats in Rodman Reservoir and the Lower Ocklawaha River under Four River Restoration and Reservoir Retention Alternatives.'  Palatka, Fla.  This source is adapted from Abbot (1971).
 
 
 

C.  Silver Springs

Marion County

Summary of Features
Scale'”1st magnitude
Scenery'”good-very good at spring, excellent downriver
How Pristine?'”land around spring developed into major attraction area, exotic animals and plants in and around spring and run, DEET detected in flow
Swimming'”manmade swim park adjacent to spring
Crowds'”Can be heavy, but are variable
Access'”Excellent from attraction, access also available from boat ramp 6 miles downstream
Facilities'”Outstanding
Safety'”Excellent
Scuba'”no
Cost'”Approx. $30 for adults, plus $5 for parking

Directions
From Interstate 75, take exit 70 and drive east on State Road 40 about 10 miles through Ocala to the well-signposted spring attraction entrance on the right.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
The spring forms a large semicircular basin 250 feet across.  Water flows from a limestone cavity on the NE side of the basin. This massive cavern entrance is about 35 feet deep, 125 feet across, 6 feet, and has a strong flow.  The cavern opening extend down another 30 feet or more before becoming too narrow for passage.  Water in the spring is clear and varies from blue to greenish depending on conditions.  There are few fish in the basin, which is mostly covered in green algae.  There are 2-3 large statues on the bottom near the cavern entrance that were placed in the spring as part of a movie filmed there.  The spring creates the Silver River, which flows about 6 miles to the Oklawaha River.  In general, the river narrows as it travels east, but varies from 75' to 200' in width.  The bottom undulates, with depths varying from 6-30 feet and with frequent large and deep pools that may have some spring flow at the bottom.

Silver Springs is often called the largest freshwater spring in Florida if not in the U.S., with an average flow of 820 cfs or about 530 MGD. However, as noted in both the 1947 and 1977 editions of Springs of Florida, only about half of this total is from the main spring vent at the headwaters of Silver River. The rest of the flow is from other springs as far as 3,500 feet below the headspring (Rosenau et al., 1977, pp. 276-79). Therefore, the total flow from the main spring at Silver Springs is probably more like 400-500 cfs. (Even at this amount, the main spring at Silver may still have the largest discharge of any single clear-water spring flow-point in Florida.)  The various vents have water with different temperatures, which means the waters come from different depths or directions and are, in essence, different springs.

There are at least 9 other spring flows in side pools along the first 1/2 mile of Silver River.  A secondary spring run (called the Ft. King Waterway on the Silver Springs attraction guide)  forks off at the SW corner of the main basin and parallels the main run for about 3/4 mile before rejoining the main run.

See the map for general locations of the springs, which are described as follows according to their proximity to the main spring:

The largest spring in this basin is near the center, south of the small island.  It is a limestone opening at a depth of about 30 feet.  According to tour guides, the opening extends downward another 50 feet before becoming too narrow for human passage.  Water flows strongly from the bottom, blowing sand, shells, and fish near the vent.  Large gar cruise near the spring.

In the back (south) end of the basin, two more vents are at a depth of about 28 feet.  The flow from each of these springs creates a cleared, bright, blue streak (a few feet wide and up to 10 feet long) on the bottom, making the springs easy to spot.

Another, smaller spring is located in the eastern end of the basin, just east of the small island and near the river.  Water flows from a limestone ledge at an estimate depth of 20 feet.

Cypress trees, palms, and hardwoods line the run.  Below the attraction area, the foliage along the run is rich and dense subtropical growth. A Guide to Florida State Parks (1999, p. 28) states there are "dozens" of springs in and along the river in Silver River State Park, which is just below the main spring and attraction area.

According to Edward German, of the USGS, the quality of the water flowing from Silver Springs did not change during the 20th century, except for a gradual increase in nitrate levels which are now quite high and appear to be having an effect on some of the aquatic populations in the springs and river. The level of nitrates in water at Silver Spring doubled from the 1970s to the 1990s, from 0.5 mg per liter to 1 mg per liter (Phelps, in "Abstracts of . . ." p. 3, 2000).  There are very few fish in the spring or run, whereas there have been large populations historically.  The Silver Springs catch basin/watershed is 1,200 square miles.

Use/Access

Local Springiana Personal Impressions
The State of Florida'™s decision to grant a concession to run Silver Springs as a commercial attraction has been a concern to environmentalists.  The State receives some funds on the contract, and the site has been a tourist attraction since the 1860s.  It is now encroached upon by suburbs, but is a major contibutor to the Ocala economy. The springs and river are a wonderful and curious place.  The river has been used and misused for generations, but remains beautiful and mostly natural except for the main spring area.  Ironically, the traffic-filled headwaters have the most fauna, with alligators, large birds, and gar being very common.  (Perhaps they are fed.)  Almost no fish were observed below the first half-mile of the river, an area that looks very pristine.

The exotic animals and plants at the park should be removed, as they do not belong in Florida and disrupt native flora and fauna.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features Contact Information
Silver Springs
5656 Silver Springs Boulevard
Ocala, FL 34488
352-236-2121
www.silversprings.com
 
 

D.  Other North-Central Florida Springs

Bouleware Spring
Alachua County

Summary of Features
Scale'”4th magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”fair
How Pristine?'”water piped, impounded; area developed into park and pumping facility
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”small
Access'”excellent
Facilities'”fine
Safety'”fine
Scuba'”no
Cost'”free

Directions
From intersection of Highways 26 and 20, go one block east on Highway 20. Turn right (south) onto SE 15th Street (also called County Road 2043) and proceed 2 miles to the spring park at the sign on the right.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
The spring is set in a low area and flows from the bottom of a bank our of a pipe into a series of three concrete holding areas/pools. The first pool is square and about 12 feet in diameter. The lower pools are rectangular, with the middle pool being about 15 by 35 feet and the lower pool 20 by 50 feet. There is an old municipal water pumphouse building adjacent to the first two pools. After exiting the third pool, the spring run flows south through a thicket toward Paynes Prairie.

Water in the pools is fairly clear and is about 4 feet deep. There is some vegetation and algae in the pools, and there are minnows in the water.

Use/Access

Local Springiana
As noted on the sign in the photograph, the spring has historic significance for Gainesville. It was an early water source for the city and the University of Florida. The pumphouse building was restored in 1990 by the City of Gainesville and the American Waterworks Association and is both a "Water Landmark" and a site on the National Register of Historic Places.

Personal Impressions
The City of Gainesville has done an excellent job of restoring the old pumphouse, creating a public park on the site, and establishing the trail to Hawthorne all on the same site in an otherwise economically depressed section of town. The spring is not much to see, and is frankly one of the least interesting and attractive things in the little park.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Paynes Prairie State Reserve
San Felasco Hammock State Preserve
Devil'™s Millhopper State Geologic Site
Poe Springs County Park
O'™Leno State Park
River Rise State Park
 
 



Camp La-No-Che (of Sulfur) Springs
Lake County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd magnitude
Scenery'”fine
How Pristine?'”very pristine, a few remnants of old dock adjacent to pool, in campground
Swimming'”no
Protection'”excellent
Crowds'”small-none
Access'”good, with permission only
Facilities'”very good nearby
Safety'”very good--note:  heard alligator nearby
Scuba'”no

Directions
From Altoona, go 7.1 miles east on State Road 42 from its intersection with State Road 19.  Turn right (southeast) onto Maggie Jones Drive just before SR 42 makes a 90-degree turn to left.  Go 0.3 mile, then turn right (south)onto Boy Scout Road.  Take sand road until it ends at camp office.  Get permission and directions or guide from office to see spring, which is another 1/3 mile to the right on sand roads.  Latitude 28.57.02N, longitude 82.32.24W.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
The springs are set in a thickly wooded area.  The main flow point is a shallow limestone opening at the base of several tree roots and cypress knees.  The visible portion of the vent is about 3 feet deep and creates a pronounced  boil about one yard in diameter and 18 inches below the adjacent land surface.  Small particles and pebbles are tumbled by the flow.  There are rotting bits of an old retaining wall or dock/platform in the main spring pool/alcove.  The flow creates a small alcove (perhaps 6 feet in diameter) and then widens into a shallow (1"-2" deep) run.  The run is joined after about 30 feet by the run from a smaller spring which begin about 85 feet away.  This spring is slightly small than the main spring, with a pool about 4 feet in diameter, about a foot deep, and with a mild boil or slick on the surface.  The two springs and their individual runs form a "y" and then combine to flow flow in a 25-foot-wide run about 300 feet through the woods to Lake Norris.

The vent area is fringed with white sulfur deposits and some algae (not a lot of algae and not strings of it), and there is a fairly strong sulfur odor in the water.  An alligator bellowed nearby on JF's first date of visit (July 9, 2003), and deer were seen near the pool.  The bottom of the pool was sandy and muddy, and the pool and its run are canopied by a semitropical hardwood forest.  Land rises on one side of the spring to the adjacent camping area and sand roads.  The run was blocked by logs in two dams JF's second date of visit (March 17, 2004), but the logs were removed on this date.  As a result, the run narrowed by several feet.

Use/Access

Local Springiana
JF was told that the remnant retaining wall/dock was build in the 1940s when the area around the spring was used for hunting and the spring was used as a swimming hole/pool.

Personal Impressions
The spring is very attractive.  The interested visitor may or may not be able to access it.  It is located down a tangle of sandy roads, and the author would not have been able to find it without the friendly assistance of the camp staff.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features Contact Information
P.O. Box 323
Paisley, FL  32767
352-669-8558
www.camplanoche.com
 
 


DeLeon (or Ponce De Leon) Springs
Volusia County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”very good-fine
How Pristine?'”wall around pool, mill/restaurant adjacent to spring, bathhouse and picnic areas
Swimming'”very good, excellent snorkeling
Protection'”excellent
Crowds'”can be heavy on warm weekends
Access'”excellent
Facilities'”excellent
Safety'”excellent when lifeguards on duty, otherwise good
Scuba'”only as part of an approved diving class
Cost'”$5 per vehicle (up to 8 persons); $1 for each addl. person; a vehicle with only 1 person in it is $3

Directions
From Deland, drive north on U.S. 17 for 8-9 miles to the town of De Leon Springs. Follow large brown signs from U.S. 17 to the state recreation area, which is located on the corner of Ponce De Leon and Burt Parks Roads.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
The spring is in a large semicircular concrete enclosure and is nearly 200 feet in diameter. The bottom is about 6 feet deep at the edges and funnels downward to a small cavern opening at a depth of about 30 feet. Water flows powerfully from the limestone opening and creates a large slick on the surface near the middle of the pool. Water is clear and can be bluish or greenish. When the pool is crowded, visibility is reduced.

A straight wall on the west side of the pool serves as dam and weir to raise the water level in the basin. Water flows out of the spring directly into Spring Garden Lake. From there, flow is to Lake Woodruff, Lake Dexter, and the St. Johns River. There is a restroom/bathhouse on the north side of the spring and a converted millhouse (now used as a gift shop and restaurant) on the south side. The picnic and parking areas are east of the pool.

When JF first visited the spring in 1996, before a renovation of the retaining wall and surrounding buildings, the flow from the vent created a visually spectacular underwater cascade of old snail shells that were "blown" 15 feet up from the bottom before falling again against the steep sides, rolling down to the mouth of the vent, and being blown again and so on perpetually. After the renovation was completed, this underwater phenomenon no longer occurred.

In an e-mail communication (February 27, 2003), Suzanne Kessler describes visiting DeLeon Springs as a child in the 1940s-1950s and swimming in another spring area called Burt's Park:

Burt's Park is right next to the old water wheel at DeLeon Springs, as you walk past it, and down a small way and they you were at Burt's Park.  DeLeon Springs was a little bigger, but the way the swimming pool was constructed with benches on the side, just like DeLeon Springs' pool, it was probably built by the same contractor, I would imagine.  There are several boils at Burt's Park  . . . and there is a road still called "Burts Park Road."
She noted that her aunt and uncle lived in the park after it was not longer open to the public.  The authors have not found any written information about this site, which also had statues and swings.

Use/Access

Local Springiana
As detailed by Rick Tonyan in his essay, "DeLeon Springs: Florida History's Ground Zero," the history of De Leon Spring resonates with much of Florida'™s overall history. Originally inhabited by Timucuan Indians, the valuable site changed hands (often violently) over the course of 10,000 years. The Spanish took the spring from the Indians, and this spring may be the site referred to by Ponce De Leon in the journal of his 1513 visit to Florida: We ascended a large river, passing through two small rivers and three lakes, whence we came to a great boiling spring which the Indians call 'Healing Waters. The spring was finally named for the Spanish explorer in 1886, or 373 years later.

The Spanish planted sugar and establish a mill on the site. Much later, after the French and Indian War, Florida became a British colony and the British reestablished the mill and farm operation. A succession of other owners followed, other tribes, the Spanish again, American settlers, the Indians again, and Floridians, Confederates, Yankees, and finally plain Americans who continued to farm and grind at the mill, which burned down (or was torched) several times over the centuries.

After the Civil War, the spring became a tourist site with hotels, water slides, and a water-powered generator. A large dam built on the site in the 1920s caused so much pressure on the old opening that it stopped flowing and another site opened in the adjacent lake. The larger dam was removed, the new flow stuffed with concrete, and the original flow began again.

Information derived from an article in Halifax Magazine and from Rosenau et al. (1977, pp. 400-402).

Personal Impressions
De Leon is a skin-diver'™s and pancake eater'™s paradise, with unlimited helpings of both. JF was very sad to see that the underwater cascade no longer occurred after the renovation of the retaining wall, and wondered if the work somehow disrupted the natural flow. The spring is well worth a visit.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features Contact Information
DeLeon Springs State Recreation Area
P.O. Box 1338
DeLeon Springs, FL 32130
386-985-4212
 
 

Glen Spring
Alachua County

Summary of Features
Scale'”5th magnitude
Scenery'”poor
How Pristine?'”impounded into pools, fenced, near buildings
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown, park along run
Crowds'”none
Access'”only for view from distance
Facilities'”none
Safety'”fair
Scuba'”no

Directions
From intersection of U.S. 441 and State Road 26 in central Gainesville, go north on U.S. 441 (also called NW 13th Street) about 2 miles. Turn west/left onto 232A/NW 23rd Avenue and proceed a short distance to parking lot of the Elks Lodge. The spring is behind the Elks building.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
The spring is set into a hillside or ravine and forms a semicircular pool about 10 feet in diameter. Water flows form small limestone openings at a depth of about 6 feet. Water in the spring is clear and clean and there is a mild boil. The bottom is sandy and rocky. The spring and the first 150 feet of its run are surrounded by a concrete retaining wall that forms three connected and successive (i.e., end-to-end) pools. The walls and gates between the pools serve to raise the level of the water high enough for swimming. The first pool'”the one surrounding the spring itself'”is bell-shaped and about 18 feet long. The second pool has six sides but is roughly rectangular and has dimensions of about 25 by 65 feet. The third pool is a rectangle and is about 25 by 50 feet. This third pool has a diving board and was clearly used as a pool. The second pool may have been used as a children'™s wading area.

Water in the second and third pools is stagnant, green in color, and is not clear. Water flows from an unseen pipe or other opening in the third pool into the original run, which then flows through a small park area and into Hogtown Creek. The Elks building is directly adjacent to the spring and pools on one side. There is an apartment complex about 100 feet away from the spring on the other side, but the intervening area is thickly wooded and lush.

Use/Access

Local Springiana
According to the Gainesville Magazine, there has been a pool at Glen Spring since the 1920s.  The current structure was used until the mid-1970s, and it was always a segregated (i.e., whites only) pool.  Roy Perkins, who managed the spring from 1951 until it was sold in 1970, recalled that it was a very popular spot.  Once a week, the flow was diverted and the pool was drained and scrubbed clean (Kirkland, 2004).

Personal Impressions
The spring is a very unusual sight, hidden behind the old Elks Lodge in the middle of a developed neighborhood.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Paynes Prairie State Reserve
San Felasco Hammock State Preserve
Devil'™s Millhopper State Geologic Site
Poe Springs County Park
O'™Leno State Park
River Rise State Park
 
 



Magnesia Spring*
Alachua County

Summary of Features
Scale'”4th-5th magnitude
Scenery'”fair
How Pristine?'”land cleared around and house near spring, fountain in pool
Swimming'”unknown
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”small
Access'”fair-good
Facilities'”none
Safety'”unknown
Scuba'”unknown
Cost'”free

Directions
From Gainesville, go west on Highway 20 about 8 miles to intersection with Highway 2041. Turn right/south onto 2041.  Go a short distance and then turn left/east onto SE County Road 2082.  Drive on 2082 for 2.8 miles and then turn right/south at mailbox - the turn is just east of/after a fenced state transportation site on the left.  Proceed 0.3 miles on sand road, then turn right and go another 400 feet to the spring on the left.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

*Note:  JF has doubts that this site is Magnesia Spring.  This water body is at the location given in Springs of Florida (1977), the water had the distinctive coloring of a spring, and a man near the site directed JF to it and knew it by name.  However, its appearance is different from the photo Rosenau took in 1972, and the was no run.  It could be a pond near the spring, and JF missed the actual spring, which is on private property.

Spring Description
The site is a circular pool in a cleared area adjacent to a single house in an area of woods and farmland. The pools is about 85 feet across, and the water was a blue-green color and not clear on date of visit in July 2001. A fountain in the middle of the pool was shooting water, and area immediately around the pool was cleared.

According to Rosenau et al., the spring was formerly enclosed by a concrete wall and was a swimming pool open to the public. Water flowed from two vents, and the run discharged to Lochloosa Creek and thence to Lochloosa Lake the St. Johns River (1977, pp. 60-61). The run from the spring was not evident when JF visited the pool, and there was no evidence of the old pool.

Use/Access
No used was evident, but the fountain was running and it appeared that the spring was part of the property of the adjacent house. The area is not posted.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Paynes Prairie State Reserve
San Felasco Hammock State Preserve
Devil'™s Millhopper State Geologic Site
Poe Springs County Park
Ocala National Forest
O'™Leno State Park
River Rise State Park
 
 




Orange Spring
Marion County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”fine
How Pristine?'”low wall around spring, some land cleared, plant nearby
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”none
Access'”restricted
Facilities'”fair
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”free

Directions
From county line where Highway 21 crosses Orange Creek into Marion County from Putnam County, take first turn east into parking lot for Acappella Natural Spring Water bottling plant. The spring is behind the plant.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
The spring lies in a low area near Orange Creek and forms a nearly circular pool that is about 85 by 100 feet in diameter. The pool is bordered by a low concrete retaining wall that raised the water level for swimming. Water in the pool is shallow'”2-4 feet'”except at the south end when the bottom drops away to a depth that appeared to be over 20 feet among limestone ledges. The water is fairly clear and is greenish. There are algae and waterplants in the pool, and the spring has a sulfur odor.

Water exits the pool on the east side through an opening in the concrete and flows over a short flume into the natural spring run. There is algae in the run, which is only a few inches deep, flows swiftly, and is about 10 feet wide. Land on the western side of the pool is partially clear and is used as a picnic area. The rest of the land around the pool is lush hardwood and pine forest and floodplain.

Use/Access

Local Springiana Personal Impressions
The bottling plant has a vested interest in taking care of the spring, and their extractions made no visible impact on the spring, its level, or its appearance.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features