Typical view [?]
NOTE: Odd mini-environments so run into some surprises but not huge hotspot
NOTE: Trail is fairly exposed, spring area is not
NOTE: Boardwalks easy, trail sandy
NOTE: Saw none
NOTE: Not much grass, haven't seen deer, not a tick-heavy area
LOCATION: Accuracy: Read me
This is two destinations. One is the spring - it's a natural spring as in it's not a spring that's been surrounded by pavement, rather you wake a boardwalk through otherwise difficult to pass terrain. There are stairs down into a large tree surrounded great spring. Really beautiful. The second destination is the trail off the parking lot. Starts out as pine forest then it's a long jeep trail with tall impenetrable scrub on the left and pine forest on the right. Not a loop so out for 3-4 miles and back. We didn't finish so can't really comment on forest on the end. Also the boardwalk along the spring run is good for birding - we've seen a couple firsts there (flycatchers, warblers, plus lots of the familiar wading birds).
Seems like more of a variety than most spots next to the river - warblers, woodpeckers, saw a hermit thrush, etc. On the pine trail ran into a family of bobwhite in the beginning, had some fun turkey encounters on the exposed trail where we unintentionally chased a turkey at a distance. Some hawks in tall pines, catbirds in the scrub.
Many manatees in the winter (some all day but most in morning and evening). Snakes in some areas. Otherwise we didn't spot much but there should be wildlife here - you have to drive through a residential neighborhood to get to it but it's along a strip connected to a lot of other wilderness: Seminole State Forest, Black Bear Wilderness, Lower Wekiva, Rock Springs, Hontoon Island, and sort of to Ocala National Forest. I expect you'd see deer if you go far enough along the trail.
Everything including RV camping. It's a destination for tourist families wanting to swim despite it not losing it's natural beauty.
US 17 to French Ave and follow the signs.
We've stopped for half an hour at the end of a hot day just to step into the spring but you could spend a good part of a day doing the trail and hanging out at the spring.
This park is a few things at once and it's a really great place in general:
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