best spring fed rivers, creeks Florida

-- Last Updated: Oct-26-15 4:31 PM EST --

Thinking about heading to the Ocala region over the week of thanksgiving to paddle- what are your favorite spots? Best websites, and guidebooks for planning. I have found camping still available for that week in several parks but would like to make some reservations.
So what shouldn't be missed, a must see paddling locale.

Camping and paddling
Most people camp at the well known campgrounds such as Salt Springs, Alexander Springs, Juniper Springs or Silver River State Park. There are many more that aren’t well known in the Ocala National Forest that range from primitive to R/V camping.

There are many good places to paddle within a 1-2 drive around Ocala. My two favorites are Juniper Springs and the Silver River. I will be down at my cabin in Ocala that weekend if you would like some company going down either of those two rivers.


Ocala NF
has many primitive no reserve campsites should you need to fill in a night. Some are right around Juniper Springs.

Get the De Lorme Atlas of FL, When you start poking around on wild roads you will enjoy it and be glad you have the atlas.

Its a little out of the way but I recommend Rock Springs Run in Apopka ( Kings Landing is the launch) and also Blackwater Creek in Seminole State Forest. You will need to email or call for a permit ahead of time. Its very wild and scenic and you will find no hordes of people.

Rainbow River and Withlacoochee River is not far away. Rainbow esp is very nice.

JackL has some trips listed on his site.

My favorite is the Chassahowitzka River. Its out of your way perhaps, being on the west coast.

Check here

go early
If you go to a popular spot go early in the day. Should not be to bad on the water in the winter. If you find Ocala area to crowded try 52 landing on Alexander Springs run. You can not make it from the spring head to 52 landing any more. But going down stream and back is a neat Florida creek run.

If you do more than float trips. (nothing wrong with float trips) Starting on the Silver River pre dawn at SR 40 with proper equipment. then going to the Spring Head and back is a great trip. Almost guaranteed to see the wild monkeys.

tops list

swampy creek areas are sprayed, ONF is sprayed, Alligator Alley is sprayed.

How schedule your appearance with a not sprayed interval ?

Who do you ask ?

is hunting an issue in any of these
places. Meaning I don’t want to be out there in gun season. That’s probably the biggest reason I’m heading south to begin with. Seminole state forest allows hunting so that’s probably off my list. Juniper Springs looks centrally located for the Silver River to Alexander Springs area.

I’m also trying to factor what others in the group want to do.

Thats why you have to call to get a

They do not allow hunting all the time. You can only get a paddling permit on non hunting days.

We just pulled into the outskirts
of the Ocala National Forest on our way to the Florida Keys.

If you have an RV this place is nice, and is right on the Oklawaha River near the confluence of the Silver River.

It is “Wilderness RV Resort”

For what it is worth: every spring run in Florida will be packed around Thanksgiving and the National Forest camp grounds will be filled.

If you don’t now have reservations any place, there are a bunch of private places, but a lot of them don’t have tent sites, (just RV ones). It would be best to get on line and see who has what.

If you want a description of each of the Spring runs, check out our google web site.

It is;

Click on “Springs Area” and then click on the ones you want to check out

Never go to Chassahowitzka on a week end. You won’t get a parking place.

And most all of the spring runs are crowded on weekends

Good luck and have fun !

Jack L

Jack, even the primitive ones
north of Juniper on Rt 19.

Was a beautiful big campground on sand roads. You had to have a water jug and patience with the hand pump and able to withstand an outhouse but the sites were very nice and very private.

I found it after being denied entrance to Salt Springs. Only a mile or two south of the big park

Canoeing and Kayaking Guide to Florida
by Johnny Molloy, is a good reference.

arrive on Thursday or early Friday.

The Forest is under pressure from the surrounding urban areas and low cost snowbirds.

If you lookover a population map in Google Images, river use characteristics will become more clear.

The Santa Fe into the Suwanee is available.

Ocala NF spring runs are kinda rinkydink.

Some others near the Ocala area
The Silver feeds into the Ocklawaha just below Ray’s Wayside Park. I like the Ock better than the Silver. It has some interesting tributaries downstream if the water is high. I like the stretch from Gore’s Landing to Canoe Outpost better than the stretch from Ray’s Wayside to Gore’s landing.

A little further from Ocala near Inverness is Gum Slough, which is a tributary of the southern Withlacoochie.

Ocala NF spring runs are kinda rinkydink
To make this statement means you have never been paddling in the Ocala National Forest.


I don’t think that idiot has ever paddled any where ?


lots of good info! Made reservations for two sites at Juniper Springs for 3 nights- good intro to paddling in Florida for me. Going to order Gazeteer and guidebook- thanks again pnetters!