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Saturday, August 01, 2015

Cool escapes: Florida's crystal clear springs

Published 7/31/2015
Geologists estimate there are more than 700 freshwater springs in Florida — the largest concentration on Earth — but only a relative few are accessible for public recreation.

De Leon Springs State Park, DeLeon Springs
Lifeguards are on duty seven days a week until school begins, then weekends through the winter.

Rock Springs at Kelly Park, Apopka
This beautiful, shaded park in the northeast corner of Orange County is one of my favorites. At the spring head, the cool water spills into a series of pools at the rate of 26,000 gallons a minute. You can wade or tube for about a quarter-mile through the crystal clear run. Outside Kelly Park, Rock Springs Run rambles for more than 8 miles through state-owned wilderness. The only canoe access is Kings Landing, a private outfitter just down the road.

Juniper Springs Recreation Area, Ocala National Forest
Dense, semi-tropical foliage not seen anywhere else, the forest provides a unique environment for picnicking, bird watching, hiking, swimming, snorkeling and paddling down the awesome spring run fed by Juniper Spring and Fern Hammock Spring. Day use is $5 per person.

Rainbow Springs State Park, Dunnelon
Be aware that the average depth is 5 feet to 18 feet, which is not conducive for small children or wading.

Peacock Springs State Park, Live Oak
There are no lifeguards, and these springs are not child-friendly. Swimming and snorkeling are limited to Peacock and Orange Grove springs and is dependent on seasonal water levels

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Spring Hill
Kids will love the waterslides and water park on Buccaneer Bay, elevating the swimming experience to theme-park fun.
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