Silver Glen Springs
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 - no
- Cost - $5.50 per person
Directions (Address and phone: : 5271 FL-19, Salt Springs, FL 32134, (352) 685-2799)
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.
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.
- The spring is a recreation area in the Ocala National Forest and offers swimming, hiking, rest rooms, concessions, and picnic facilities.
- Swimming is fine in the spring, but is best for older children and adults because there is very little shallow water. Snorkeling and skin-diving are outstanding.
- The Natural Well and the alcove it creates are roped off to protect wildlife.
- Silver Glen Spring was a private recreation area for years before being taken over by the Ocala National Forest. A concession has a contract to operate the site.
- The spring is the site of pre-Columbian Native American habitation, evidenced by several large shell mounds on the land around the spring. Artifacts have been found in these mounds and middens.
- On shore in back (east) of the spring, water and artifact hunters have washed out or otherwise removed the dirt from beneath several trees that were once growing on mounds of shells. The erosion left a hollow space underneath the tangled roots through which you can walk. One can see the shells crammed into the pockets of the tree roots.
- A rope strung across the back (west) end of the spring prevents houseboats and other boats from entering the swim area.
- A report by the Florida Springs Task Force (Florida’s Springs: Strategies for Protection and Restoration, 2000), notes that Silver Glen Spring has maintained good water quality and a relatively constant discharge since the 1930s. The main factors in this spring’s remaining relatively clean and pristine are that that nearly all of its watershed area is protected from development and water extraction, restricted access and foot traffic have reduced erosion, and controls on motorboat use near the spring to reduce impacts of introduced aquatic vegetation, spills, litter, and threats to fauna (pp. 20-21).
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.
- Alexander Springs
- Fern Hammock Springs
- Juniper Springs
- Sweetwater Spring
- Salt 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