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Saturday, August 09, 2014

18 Stunning Florida Springs

Published Sep 8, 2014
Alexander Springs:
Inside the Ocala National Forest, this is a first-magnitude spring, discharging 100 or more cubic feet of water per second, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (Second-magnitude springs produce 10 to 100 cubic feet per second; third-magnitude springs channel 1 to 10 cubic feet per second.)

Visitors can rent a canoe or kayak, swim, snorkel, go fishing (with a Florida freshwater license) or scuba dive (if certified). Take a hike along the Timucuan Trail, an easy to moderate loop trail with two observation decks and some boardwalks.

Blue Spring State Park:
The largest spring on the St. Johns River, This park restricts water activities from November 15 through March 15. Blue Springs is so popular year-round that rangers have to turn away visitors when the park is full.

Crystal River:
Closed from November 15 through March 21. This is the only place where people may swim but not touch this animal.

De Leon Springs State Park:
You can canoe, paddleboat, swim, kayak, picnic, snorkel, learn how to scuba dive, study Mayacan artifacts (including a 6,000-year-old canoe), or make pancakes at the park restaurant.

Ginnie Springs:
Open for camping, snorkeling, swimming, tubing, canoeing and kayaking, its claim to fame is as a dive spot.

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park:
is both Old Florida roadside attraction and state-of-the-art wildlife rehab center, according to the Friends of Homosassa Springs Wildlife Center. Three times daily, experts present information on the West Indian manatee and how the center helps sick and injured manatees get back into the wild.

Ichetucknee River:
The name Ichetucknee means “beaver pond,” but this state park is home to nine springs and numerous vents. Ichetucknee River is one of Florida’s favorite tubing spots. In the summer, a tram is available to run you back to your car; after Labor Day until the Friday before Memorial Day, you’re on your own and should plan on walking back (about 5-15 minutes, depending on where you started). If you prefer to canoe or kayak, be aware that “tubers” have the right of way and come out in force on weekends. Within the park is Blue Hole Spring, the only spot where cave diving is allowed (and only from October through March).

Jackson Blue Springs:
Located inside the Blue Springs Recreational Area. Other ways to enjoy the water include swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboating. On land, visitors can hike to wildlife viewing spots, enjoy volleyball, picnic, and turn the kids loose on the playground.

Juniper Springs:
The Juniper Run is also a big draw for canoeists. Take a short one-mile hike to Fern Hammock Spring (no swimming), where more than two dozen sand boils percolate beneath a wooden bridge.

Manatee Springs:
Home to one of North America’s longest mapped cave systems--more than 26,000 feet--and a world-record dive in 1994 to 11,074 feet. While some springs limit diving to cave divers only, certified open-water divers and cavern divers are also welcome at Manatee Springs. Register with a c-card before 3 pm; you must check out at the office by 5pm--and as always, never dive beyond your certification limits.Non-divers are welcome to swim, hike the nature trails or elevated boardwalk, opt for a ranger-guided paddle, ride bicycles, and picnic.

Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park:
Renamed in memory of the pioneering cave dive, explorer, photographer, and underwater filmmaker Wes Skiles, Peacock Springs is home to two springs, six sinkholes, a spring run, and one of the nation’s largest underwater cave systems. Cave divers have mapped about 33,000 feet of these natural passageways.

Silver Springs Nature Park:
Once a segregated summer playground where Ross Allen’s alligator- and snake-wrestling shows lured tourists off the highway.

Suwannee River State Park:
Kayaking, canoeing, hiking, camping, fishing, and picnicking are popular pastimes here. Cave divers report a large cave system under the Suwanee River that links Suwanacoochee to nearby Ellaville Spring.

Troy Spring State Park:
A popular swimming hole, Troy Springs is a first-magnitude spring that features the remnants of the 19th-century steamship Madison.. Scuba and freediving are allowed; cave and cavern diving are not.

Vortex Spring:
Vortex is privately owned and caters especially to the dive community, but it has added other amenities like zip lines, paintball, and horseback riding trails. Vortex offers all kinds of campsites: primitive tent-pitching sites, log cabins, RV hookups, lodges with TV sets, dormitories, and even a house reserved just for dive groups. Vortex does not allow pets or smoking

Wakulla Spring State Park
One of the world’s largest springs at 350 feet wide, Wakulla Spring is both a National Natural Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places. Take a glass-bottom boat tour, popular here for nearly a century, to glimpse fossilized mastodon bones and below the surface

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park:
Fed by a complex of first-, second-, and smaller-magnitude springs. Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing, and kayaking.

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