Florida Springs

6:45 p.m. on May 10, 2016 (EDT)
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So this gets its own report as it was an unusual trip for me.

Though I grew up in Northern Florida I had never visited any of the fresh water springs that are so abundant in the Central region. Who goes to Central FL for reasons other than theme parks? I guess we do.

This trip was mostly based on using airline credits and we had no real plan other than to experience as many springs as we could in four days.

I'll start with a short little video that has some underwater shots; kinda cool and different for me:

And here are a few still shots I like:


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Blue Springs State Park top view of main spring well


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And a bottom of the many fish that swam all around us.


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The start of the 7.5 mile Juniper Springs kayak run. It was fantastic. I had the only camera so most of the pics are of Susan ahead of me.


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This run goes trough the Ocala National Forest


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It was alligator mating season and we had to paddle right next to this 13 foot guy. (hard to see in the picture and I didn't linger to get a better shot)


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The jungle/forest opened up eventually.


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Sunning


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Fern Hammock Springs


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and the Fern Hammock loiterer (click to enlarge)


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Digital zoom of course


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This is what the Florida trail looks like with me on it.


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A canoe trip this time but I can't remember which spring it was.


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click this one to enlarge for sure :)

happy trails and paddles!

11:52 a.m. on May 11, 2016 (EDT)
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Patman, awesome!  I was born in raised in Jacksonville and the springs of central FL may be my favorite thing about the entire state.  We would take car camping and kayak trips down in the Blue/Ginnie/Poe springs area at least a couple times a year.  It really is a very special place and this makes me miss it.  Glad that you enjoyed it!

1:43 p.m. on May 11, 2016 (EDT)
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Thanks for sharing this, Patman.

Now I know where to go in Florida the next time I end up there for familial reasons. We were there recently and did manage a short hike in Brooker Creek Preserve to the west in Tarpon Springs.

2:06 p.m. on May 11, 2016 (EDT)
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Patman,

Great report and video. That looks to be an awesome destination. Cool that you got some footage of the owl in the video and I loved the closing credits,(Directed by: Good Times)!!!

4:04 p.m. on May 11, 2016 (EDT)
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Hey thanks all.

This was a really cool trip; we had stumbled on this website and used it to roughly plan each day with: http://www.floridasprings.org/visit/map/

One of the coolest parts was the Kayak trip on the Juniper Run; my pictures make it look like a Disney ride but it's actually pretty difficult. There's no white water but the run is narrow and twisty for the first several miles and it requires constant steering to keep from crashing into trees and roots and alligators. The wilderness regulations prohibit any mechanized tool use like chainsaws. So the only maintenance done is done by hand by the kayak rental concessionaire. There was a lot of ducking and dodging blow downs.

The other really cool thing was the Salt Springs park. The spring wells are so strong that if you try to dive down into them the force of water blows you back out.  At about :47 of the video Susan is trying to dive into the cave/well. We met a local who showed us that you could hold a big rock to your chest and let it sink you into the cave and then drop if for the spring to blow you back out. Super Fun!

9:53 a.m. on May 12, 2016 (EDT)
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nice post, Patrick.  It brought back a wave of memories from my youth.  I'm from N. Florida also and remember Blue Springs from the time I was 5 years of age. 

Later in life, I dove (scuba) many of the springs in North and Central Florida - Blue Springs, Ebro Springs, Manitee, and Devil's Eye.  

I no longer dive due to age and health reasons, but your post brings back very fond memories for me. Thank you for sharing.

2:56 p.m. on May 13, 2016 (EDT)
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Thanks for sharing. I have yet to make it to the springs in the 'far north'. The water and air gets cold up there, compared to Miami:) Plus, waterways similar to what you paddled can be found throughout Florida. Fisheating Creek and the Loxahatchee river are two great options around lake O. Come check out the Everglades next!

7:08 p.m. on May 21, 2016 (EDT)
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I have always wanted to paddle one of the FL rivers in the winter in the limestone like the Crystal River.

11:34 a.m. on July 15, 2016 (EDT)
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Those of us who live in Central Florida prefer the springs on the west coast.  Weeki Watchie springs are simply amazing.

10:28 a.m. on July 18, 2016 (EDT)
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Ed,

We had so much fun we're going back next spring to do the west side ones.

4:01 p.m. on July 18, 2016 (EDT)
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Wow, welcome to the jungle!

12:59 p.m. on July 31, 2016 (EDT)
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That last photo is absolutely amazing! I love Florida and miss it too. I lived in Clearwater/Dunedin area for 12 years and I miss the weather and the heat. I never made it to Juniper Springs. There are so many sweet spots in Florida for sure. I need to make a trip back there soon. My brother has made it to many of those areas and loves it. Especially Crystal Springs, Ginnie Springs, Silver River and Rainbow Springs. 

January 24, 2020
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