Thursday, February 29, 2024

Winding Up Two Weeks at Silver Springs

Jan 24-30, 2014                                                             Most Recent Posts:
Silver Springs State Park              My Favorite Hike and the Steps Resolution
Silver Springs Florida                         Jarring and Calming On the Silver River


I set out to hike the trail from the campground over to the head spring.  The trail is 4.6 miles round trip  but turned out to be  6+  miles for me because I got turned around at the beginning by getting distracted and missing a sign.   SIGH…..


Near its end, the trail crosses over the  road leading to the former entrance to Paradise Park which was very popular until integration forced its closure.  I am really disappointed that they tore it all down rather than incorporate it into the main Silver Springs park that was opened to everyone.  Perhaps if the state had owned it at that time they would have saved it.


The first thing you come to when you hike over from the campground and reach the headspring area is the kayak rental area.

They used to rent kayaks at the campground and you could pick them up and put them in at the campground dock I use.  After the state bought the headsprings and the attraction there, they had a private concessionaire set up a ramp and rental area.   It is packed nearly every day.


This bench and sign are famous and I have had many pictures taken here starting when I was about 7 in the 1950’s but this year I took an absolutely terrible selfie which also of course had the sign writing backwards.  DUH!



The famous glass bottom boats are housed at the top of the headspring.  They have been in operation since the 1870’s  Isn’t that just amazing.



The Silver River is owned by the state for its entire length.  The park is the only place you can walk along it.  And only on one side.  Also there is no swimming, fishing, snorkeling or scuba diving.  Thus it is about as pristine as a river can get these days.


Anyone who has ever visited Silver Springs knows that the TV show Sea Hunt with Lloyd Bridges was filmed here.  It only ran for 4 seasons from 1958 to 1961 but was syndicated for years.  Maybe it’s still out there if Ted Turner owns it.  The park has retained this deck from the series.  


I couldn’t resist this picture of a woman without children clowning around.  I cheered her on. 


Not sure what events they have at this lovely mansion stage.  I’m guessing concerts but I didn’t see any schedule.


This deck is overlooking the headspring.  You can see the top of a glass bottom boat.  the deck has open and shaded sections with Adirondack chairs and rockers.  It’s a great place to sit.  I was there for a while watching and chatting with a few people.


The merchandise area runs along behind the boats’ ticket booth.  There is a museum there with mementos of films and TV programs located here.  A science room which tells all about the springs.  And one telling the history of the springs and of this park and of Paradise Park.  All very interesting.  And the pictures are wonderful.  The restaurant was undergoing renovation which was unfortunate  since I’d hoped to have lunch there.


Lots of open space.  The park used to be a botanical garden but the state has neither the man power nor the money to keep that up.


Nice spots to watch what’s happening on the water.   It’s a different look for me than the one I get from my kayak.


No wrong turns on the way back but an unintended high mileage day for me.



I went out paddling on the river pretty much every morning.  I could probably do a single post on each day since they were all so different and wonderful.  But instead, I’ll just put in some pictures mostly of things that I hopefully haven’t already shown in my one earlier post on paddling the Silver River


This very large snapping turtle hung out beneath and around the dock where I launched my kayak  and return.  The dark shiny part of his shell is what is out of the water so look closely to see how really big he is.

Not the snapping turtle but a very rare photo, at least for me, of a turtle not sunning on the river side.  Usually when I see their heads barely out of the water, they disappear before I can get a photo.  I’m thinking this is a Florida Cooter since they are very common in this river.  So much so that they have named one particular turtle often seen sunning on a log where the paddle trail from the kayak launch comes into the headsprings.  They’ve named her Jane.  This is not her.


The never sits still and thus hard to photograph Kingfisher.

A pair of cute little Grebes.


The snakebird in the water. You can see why he has this nickname.  Also known as the Anhinga when he’s drying his beautiful wings.


When you rent a kayak at the headsprings you can go directly out into the river or you can turn right and paddle down The Fort King Paddle Trail which takes you by the sets for some earlier attractions.   The history of the park is very interesting since it has been around for over 150 years now.    I am so grateful to the State for buying it to stop its private development.


A Great Egret showing his beautiful plumage.


Pair of Wood Ducks which I think are among the most beautiful ducks on the east coast.


Black Crowned Night Heron


I saw the monkeys on several days and often they were grooming each other as in this picture.


The Snowy Egret showing off his golden slippers.


A trio of Wood Ducks. 



This was the one and only Wood Stork I saw during my many days on the river.

I took this with my phone and wish it were sharper.


I sort of had Deja Vu when I returned to the dock to find monkeys there.  Several years ago, 4 of us came back from paddling and a troop of monkeys held us off from docking for nearly 20 minutes as the head man strutted around.  I feared that might happen again.  But it seems I’d come at the tail end of the troop’s wanderings.



Once they were out of sight, I docked my kayak and saw no more of them.  I’d much rather see them from a boat than when I am on land.


I’ll close with this look at the place where my kayak waits for me each day.  At the end of my stay, I bright my wheels back, put the kayak on them and pull it back up the mile trail to my car.   Worth the considerable effort.


Next post will be from a new campground to me and a new way of camping in Florida.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

My Favorite Hike and the Steps Resolution

January 23, 2024                                                Most Recent Posts:
Silver Springs State Park              Jarring and Calming on the Silver River
Silver Springs, Florida                    Everything Was Going Fine and Then …

Silver Springs State Park is among my favorite parks in Florida and I have returned every year since we began coming to Florida in 2011.

I have a conflict between my desire to explore new territory and to return to the comfort of a familiar and well loved place such as this.  A question about that later.


The Swamp Trail is my favorite at Silver Springs even though I had a concerning near encounter with the monkeys here last year.  Here is a link to that post.

It’s not a long trail, about a 2 mile loop.  But if I do it and the River Trail, I can get 4 miles.  So if I go out to kayak in the morning and hike the Swamp Trail in the afternoon, it’s a lovely plan.



The swamp section has a boardwalk over it and that’s where I encountered the monkeys walking toward me.


Right about here actually.


I love swamps especially in winter when the mosquitos are absent.


I know that when the leaves come out this area will be dark and spooky.  I’d love to see it then but…..I wouldn’t like the heat or the mosquitoes.


One of my favorite books Where the Crawdad’s Sing takes place in a swamp.  I am reminded of it whenever I hike here.



There really is nothing else like Cypress Knees.


After the swamp, I arrive at the river.  The path on the left goes down to the boat access for the Ocala Schools educational boat which picks up students several times a week and takes them up to the spring head doing much needed environmental education along the way.   The right walk goes to an overlook.

The Silver River is fed by springs that discharge an AVERAGE of 516 MILLION GALLONS of water per day.    The water I see here flowing by was in the Florida Aquifer 2 or 3 days ago.


The dock gate is on the left.  This is the view from the right walk which has a bench where you can sit and watch what happens on the river.




Such a beautiful day, a beautiful place, but time to head back.  I have an appointment which is why I am not out on the water.



Those of you who follow along with my adventures and mishaps will know that I had one of those mishaps on my way into the park.   I still have no idea what caused my steps to fail but today was the day they were replaced and I could stop using the 2 step ladder to get into and out of Winnona.

Many thanks to Richard at The Trailer Doc and Fab Shop for getting the steps for me.   He got nothing out of it.  And thanks to Jim and Matt who got nothing but work out of removing the steps so I could take them to Richard.

And  thanks to Andy of Andy’s Mobile RV who picked them up on his way here and then installed them.

I’m so lucky!


Andy set to work trying to prop the VERY HEAVY steps up so that he could attach them to the underside of my RV which was leveled with jacks down and thus higher than if I had not been living in it.


I offered to store the jacks but he said he thought he could work it out.
He tried several different things and managed to make it happen.


Then the motor had to be connected.  That blew a fuse which had to be replaced and neither of us had the one we needed of course so I raced down to an auto parts store and got one.  SO glad to be near an urban area just now.


And then there they were.  It’s amazing how much I took for granted ease of getting into and out of the RV.   It was an expensive fix.  The total with the cost of the steps and Andy’s time and expertise was almost $1200.  BUT they are new,
“should” not fail and I’m back to ground zero as it were.


A parting thought, 
every year I struggle with whether to set up 11 month in advance reservations in Florida or spend the winter in Texas and/or Arizona.  Without reservations that far in advance, I will have to  give up Florida.  So I need to know when and where to make other Winter reservations.  Can any of you help with suggestions of spots where it will be warm and not Florida during the months of November through March?   I’m interested in towns and parks if you can recommended them.