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 - $5.50 to enter/swim, $6.50 SCUBA fee per person
Directions and phone number: 49525 County Rd 445, Altoona, FL 32702, (352) 669-3522
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.
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.
- The spring is a major recreation area in the Ocala National Forest and offers camping 67 sites for tents and RVs), hiking, fishing, swimming, canoeing (with drop-off and pick-up for a fee), canoe rentals, rest rooms, bicycling (a 22-mile trail), concessions, picnic facilities, and showers.
- There is an established and popular 7-mile canoe trail that begins just below the spring. Pick-up can be arranged for a fee.
- The Alexander Springs Timucan Natural Trail, which begins by the spring, is a one-mile loop through the dense semi-tropical forest near the spring and its run. It also offers a couple of viewing platforms along Alexander Springs Creek.
Alexander is perhaps 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.
- In the highlands above the spring, sand pines and oaks are twisted by the elements into contorted shapes. Sand at the spring is as white as beach sand (it is natural or has it been brought in?).
- Trees and palmetto bushes offer privacy for tent campers at the spring.
- Vultures roost in trees near the spring and may be observed in the main camping areas stealing unguarded food as well as garbage.
- Alexander is a major scuba site and is very popular with divers.
- Salt Springs
- Fern Hammock Springs
- Juniper Springs
- Sweetwater Spring
- Silver Glen Springs
- Silver Springs
- DeLeon Spring
- Orange Spring
Other Nearby Natural Features
- Lake Woodruff Wildlife Refuge
- Welaka State Forest
- Tiger Bay State Forest
- Withlacoochie State Forest