Monday, March 20, 2023

Last Days at Silver Springs

February 24-27, 2023                                            Most Recent Posts:
Silver Springs State Park                                       A Visit to Cross Creek
Site 48                                                                       A Knap In
Silver Springs, Florida

As you can see from all the posts I’ve done on Silver Springs, it is one of my favorite parks. This post is a conglomeration of the things I saw and did in these last 4 days.   I continued to go out on the river nearly every morning. 

But I did do a few other things.

Like Hiking
As you can see from the map, Silver Springs has a number of trails to keep the hiker busy.  I hiked pretty much everything on the campground side of the river except for the Ross Allen Loop on the far right.  That is mostly a sandy bike trail though you can hike it.

Almost every morning, to go kayaking,  I hiked a half mile on the river trail to the boat launch and of course another half mile back.  It’s a really nice walk.  It’s in blue on the right hand middle of the map.


20230221_101640By combining the old field trail-green, the Sandhill Trail-yellow and the Spring Trail-dark blue,  I was able to walk over to the spring head and back.  That’s the former “attraction” side of the park that has the Glass Bottom Boats.  I think it is 6 or 7 miles round trip.  It’s a lovely flat and easy hike.

There is actually an interesting variety of habitat in the park.


And of course you can hike the interior park vehicles only roads.  I never saw a vehicle.



Once at the head spring I walked the Ross Allen Boardwalk.  He was a very favorite herpetologist at the original Silver Springs attraction.


The trail crosses a bridge of which I have shown pictures from my kayak.  Here’s how the water looks from above at a couple of points along the way.


This is known as the Fort King loop and has the old fake fort and outpost buildings on its banks.  Only seen from a kayak or canoe.


I walked through the covered viewing area which I have also shown from the water.


The most exciting hike happened one evening a day or two before I left.   I’m now calling it the Monkey Hike.

IMG_6628In the evening I often hike the swamp trail (orange on the map) to the boat landing gate used by the museum for its educational water tours.  The county school children are taught by naturalists about their local waters and the flora and fauna.   I’ve shown a picture from the water of the pick up ramp in previous posts but here’s another one as a memory refresher.   I have seen the monkeys here this past week when I was on the water.  They like to walk on the railings and boardwalk and play in the trees.. 


I’ve hiked this trail often in the evenings while I’ve been here.   But this particular evening when I got near the museum launch gate and onto the boardwalk  this monkey came running up on the railing toward me with this look on her face.

I don’t remember if she was making any sound because she was running toward me and I stopped dead amazed and a bit worried.  She stopped too, so I took her picture.

I walked slowly forward thinking she will retreat.

But no, she looked back for reinforcements and here it comes.  Running toward me on the boardwalk.   Luckily he stops right by her.


Notice that they are in or near the curve in the railing.  She stopped first at the curve.  I thought if I walked toward her she would run back but no,  she came toward me.  I stopped.  We did that once more and then I got the message.  The “might” not continue forward if I didn’t.  So I start walking backwards never taking my eyes off of them.    And that continued until I actually walked backwards out of their sight.

These guys are wild and they can bite.  


Less exciting were Chores

When  you are pretty much a full time RVer there are always chores to be done.    Unlike others who have a home base and have things taken care of there at least once a year,  my home base is not RV friendly meaning there are almost no RVs anywhere other than in the yards of folks in the country who need less expensive housing.  It also means there are no RV services within an hour of the farm.  Thus I have to do nearly all my service needs on the road.


When I’m in Ocala that means having my Blue Ox Tow Hitch  checked at The Hitching Post.  I have it checked every 12,000 to 15,000 miles.

  Unfortunately this time they told me would be the last time they could recondition it.  Next time it will have to be replaced.  Uggg. $$$$  If you have a Blue Ox, how many years have you gotten out of it?

In order to get it checked, I can take Winnona in to them and they will take the hitch off which I did the last time or I can take the hitch off myself and take it in alone.  Taking Winnona there is a lot of trouble so despite the fact that the hitch is seriously HEAVY, I took it in and left it.  This picture is after I got it back and am cleaning up some rust and lubing it before putting it back onto Winnona.


Of Course Great Times on the River

PXL_20230222_165729925One thing I don’t really want to advertise but makes my stays here at Silver Springs so nice, is the fact that if I’m willing to pull my kayak a half mile down the sandy trail, I can leave it on the former kayak rental rack.  Before the two parks became one, the campground rented boats and kept them here.  Now boats are rented at the headspring by a concessionaire and the rack is empty.   In this first day picture I had the rack to myself but that didn’t last and soon there were a lot of kayaks on the rack and other places.  The problem will come when there are too many boats left down here and the park changes their rules about leaving them.  Or when one is stolen because the owner stupidly didn’t lock it up and we all have to pay.

But for now I only have to bring it down and take it back once in my two week stay.

It’s often very foggy in the mornings which is lovely.


Sometimes I see the Monkeys

Am I getting a look from this guy?


One day I spotted the monkey band on the opposite side of the river from where I later saw them on the boardwalk.  There are several bands living in the park so I doubt this is the same one that stopped me in my tracks.  But it’s possible since they do swim across the river.

If you’d like to see these guys playing in a video, use this link and/or this one.  I just couldn’t decide.  I sat beneath them and watched for more than half an hour.  What fun they were having.

How about that face?

And those ears.

What else did I see on the river? 

The Little Blue Heron and Common Moorhen hunting together.


Here’s a video of a day on the river for these two.  

In the background you’ll see a little Pied Billed Grebe. 

Can’t remember what spooked them but I got this shot of the ruffled feathers.


There were wood ducks seemingly everywhere. 

Can you spot him in the tree?



On the water by the numbers.   This is always so thrilling to me because they have rebounded from the danger zone.


If you’d like to see them swimming around together, use this link.


They are beautiful!  Both of them.


And of course manatee.  





Three manatee


Nose up




Gators anyone?




Little Blue Heron doesn’t seem worried.  The Alligator does look well fed and asleep.



And of course, the water itself.

Such a lovely river.  Life is everywhere.


The cypress which line the banks are like a painting.


Talk about roots.  Aren’t they just amazing!


Water’s kind of low as you can clearly see.


The most thrilling thing
is always something that is very rare and the river otter is it.  I saw them at least three times while on the river and these were the best pictures I could get.  They are SO fast and so wary.

They are SO hard to photograph.  This is the best picture of the head I’ve ever been able to get.  There were two of them swimming together but my picture of them both side by side was too blurry unfortunately.

Can’t believe he didn’t dive down as he left me in the dust.  If you’ve never seen the back of a river otter’s head, this is it!


And a relatively Rare sight

For me, the tri-colored heron is a seldom seen bird but on the Silver River he seems to have staked out a spot and I see him there almost every day.  No others, just this one.


I took this pretty decent video of him.  I think he’s just beautiful. 


There are other birds

Besides the wood ducks, the Little Blue Heron, Grebe, Common Moorhen and Tri Colored heron,  there were others on the water as well.

The Great Blue Heron is perhaps the most patient bird I have ever seen.  Though he’s actually in motion in this picture.   I believe those wispy feathers are known as breeding feathers.  


Male Anhinga drying his wet feathers and wet ruffled head.  The design on those  feathers is really amazing. 


Double Breasted Cormorant gets his fish.


And lastly, the people….

Because I prefer fewer people, I try to be off the water by ten or a little after.  I run into flotillas and interesting paddlers around that time.  

Is it a kayak party?


Just in case it rains?   Or better than sunscreen?  And the hat!!

Boy am I sorry to be wheeling this kayak back up the trail.


But I take some consolation that Rainbow Springs is up next. 
It’s an even busier river but a closer kayak launch.


  1. Great post! Always wanted to see the monkeys at Silver Springs but we never went there. Just wondering how many years have you had the Blue Ox?

    1. Forgot to put my name down!

    2. You want to see them on the river Jeannie, not on the ground! The blue ox is about 10 years old now. But Chris is right that I should have asked why. I think I'll ask Paul Dahl, he's my go to David.

  2. I’ve hiked Silver Springs a number of times but never saw one on the boardwalk or anywhere other than the trees while floating the river. That’s a unique experience. Did the guys at the Hitching Post tell you why your Blue Ox would have to be replaced the next time? With proper maintenance, I wouldn’t expect those things to wear out unless the boots are compromised and allowing rust to develop on the bars.

    1. Sorry. I accidentally published this a Anonymous. 😁

    2. I just assumed after 10 or 12 years - but you are right, I should have and will ask exactly why.

  3. As always, great videos of the monkeys playing. Silver Springs was one of our favorite places.

    1. Glad you like the monkey videos Laurie they are so much fun to watch. Thanks for the comment.

  4. Very smart locking up your kayak. Monkeys are not to be trusted... :cD

    1. Those monkeys of course are exactly why I locked the kayak up.

  5. Oh that was so much fun, Sherry. Although I am not actually a fan of the monkeys. It seems they are reproducing much too quickly and obviously aren't native to that area. Like monkeys in other parts of the world, they can get to be a real problem. But oh, what a beautiful river. I have never been on it at the right time for the Manatees....So beautiful in that clear amazing water. Loved reading this, and love the feeling I get when I let myself sink into your photos of the trails and the water and slide into the memory of the feeling of those leaf covered sandy trails and the smell of the green and water everywhere. Reading these posts has been a real treat. And yes, the Rainbow River is gorgeous, but even when we were there it was pretty busy. Not like the Silver River, but still beautiful. More houses along that river too.

    1. You remember them both well Sue And I so love your comment. I agree totally with you about the monkeys. And I was quite frightened of them on the land but they are so funny in the trees. Still they do not belong there and they need some sort of Birth control darts to control the population.

  6. What a full post! So much to see there. Love the monkey story. I am glad you figured out to be the one to retreat! Beautiful birds and the river otter sighting - so neat! I hope you get a reason regarding the Blue Ox. I sure know nothing about that!!

    1. The question with wild animals always is do you appear submissive or do you appear commanding. Do you keep your eyes down or do you look directly at them. I knew I shouldn't turn my back on them but I wasn't sure whether I should also keep my eye on them which I did. So glad you liked the post. It was a very full 4 days.

  7. Ha. My father would have been right with you beating a retreat. If they're saying it's a no go, then OK. The clarity of that water is so wonderful. Thanks for the photos!

    1. You are so welcome Judith and thank you for the comment. Your father is a wise man. Never argue with the ones with a big teeth.

  8. Great pictures and narrative! I hope you enjoy Rainbow Springs. I enjoyed our tea party at Dunnellon. Now in Mississippi and heading west.

    1. Thanks Rachel. Lunch was fun. It will be in my next post. It's pretty cold here I suspect it is in Mississippi too. Travel safely.

  9. great post, I will miss Florida. Our new 3 year plan has us out west.

    1. Thanks Tom. Not sure I want to spend a winter out west. Neither Arizona nor Texas seems dependable enough. A 3-year plan-wow. I don't like having to do even a one-year plan.

    2. Done everything we wanted here & family all moved to Huntsville Alabama. The Cabana has served us well but we got offered $ 225K for it and have been packing and shredding papers since.

  10. I didn't realize they had monkeys in FL. Not sure it's a great idea. Nice post. Lots of good pics.

    1. It's definitely not a good idea. These are left over from the Tarzan era on the Silver River

  11. I love your photos of the river, the birds, and the manatee! You're actually making me think I need to search for a place to stay next winter near Silver Springs. (I miss our trailer, waaahhh!!!)

    The monkeys, as you know, I'm not so thrilled about. When we were kayaking the river a couple of years ago there was a moment when I thought a monkey was going to jump into the boat, LOL. I sure wouldn't like encountering one on the boardwalk! You were smart to not continue on. As you said, they have BIG teeth and they're not afraid to show them!

    1. I really do love kayaking the Silver River especially when staying in the campground since I can get out on the water at 7am and not have to wait for the park to open.

  12. We have been to Silver Springs many times but have yet to see the monkeys, you were very lucky, enjoyed our meeting you and hope you see you again on our travels,

  13. It's interesting that the monkeys seemed like they were challenging you. You were smart to go backwards. I guess that they are pretty accustomed to people. Love all of the birds and ducks. I've never seen a duck in a tree before!@##! That one manatee looked huge- almost as long as your kayak! Do the alligators ever bother the manatees? The anhinga reminds me of something Native American- maybe the pattern. or the colors. What a great picture of the cormorant catching a fish! So many animals! xxxooo

  14. Certainly understand why you love this park, everything but the monkeys that is.

  15. Better late than never and what a great post!!! All that beauty and wildlife - and manatees <3 I'd love to find a shady and flat area to take some lovely hikes like that. Tri colored herons may be my new favorite water foul.


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