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.


  1. So many great photos! Gotta love the one of the woman goofing around. Just another reminder to not take life too seriously, better to take our time and have fun...
    Thanks so much for sharing Sherry!

    1. You are so right Shayne about trying not to take things too seriously. It's hard though if you have health issues. I love seeing your name in the comments and am so happy to be sharing with you.

  2. Hey, I was able to see the photos on my phone!! I always enjoy when you are at Silver Springs. I always brings back such great memories of our time there.

    1. Wow that's great Laurie. I can't see them on my phone. So glad I can bring back good memories. It is my very favorite park.

  3. I am reading through your blogs and your pictures and the knowledge you are sharing are wonderful!! I am so enjoying every post and picture. Judy Griffith

    1. Judy it is so wonderful to see your name in the comments. Thank you so much for the compliments.

  4. I remember Kathy went for a short walk there and came back hours later as the trails were not clearly marked and explained. She had to ask a local hiker for directions as the daylight was ending. We did love the park though. Glad you got to see a few monkeys. I love the Egret pics. I hope you are doing well at your new park.

    1. Thanks Tom. It is easy to get turned around here. I hope you are warm enough up there in Alaska.

  5. Neat place! I I bet that mansion might host weddings? Or maybe not...The park has a interesting history and so much wildlife! Impressive pictures yet again. It's really wonderful the entire river is protected.

    1. Actually I think the Mansion does host weddings and wish I had thought to include that.

  6. Each and every one of the photos at the end are frame worthy. I love nature in every form. . .just wonderful. Thank you!

    1. Thank you Janice for your kind compliments. And for your comment. I'm really glad you enjoy the photos.

  7. I had no idea that Sea Hunt, my favorite show as a kid, was filmed here. Are the sharks depicted in the series still swimming there? :c)

    1. Too funny Paul. Only the manatee are here and the monkeys from Tarzan

  8. I loved being reminded of the long history of Silver Springs. It was one of the things that Bel, who lived in Ocala when she moved there to take care of her parents, wanted to show me when I first visted her in 2000 after she moved from Idaho where I lived at the time. She bought a season pass for me and we visited several times. There is nothing quite as much fun as Christmas at the Springs, with wandering Victorian minstrels, hot chocolate and of course, the boat parade. All those glass bottom boats are lit up for Christmas. Such great memories. Seems the monkeys are getting bolder all the time. I have photos at that same bench from all the years I visited since then. I really miss Ocala, Silver Springs, the Silver River, King Fort Road and the mansions, the old oaks overhanging the roads, the invasive but gorgeous wisteria growing through the trees. I don't miss traffic oin 200 though. But I do miss Bel. She introduced me to Florida and I never had a clue. Mo and I have enjoyed our travels there so much. I really am sad that we are kinda in a space where we no longer want to traverse the country to get there. Like Laurel, I keep hoping we can get an AirBnB and fly there. I miss Florida the most when I see your posts about Silver Springs and then of course I have to meander back through my own photos for a bit of nostalgia. Great post, Sherry., thank you.

    1. Sue, what a wonderful comment. I love hearing about your friend Bel and your trips to Florida. I'm never at Silver Springs in December. I wonder if they still do things at Christmas the way you remember now that the state owns it and it is not a private attraction. As you read in a previous post, my friend Sharon rented an airBnB very near the park and visited me when I was there. It was a very nice little house. Let me know if you want me to get you particulars about it.

  9. Such amazing wildlife and history at this beautiful park. And you have your own wonderful history here! Grebes are just so darn cute :-)

    1. It is a wonderful park Jodee. I hope not toooo many people want campsites here next winter.

  10. How wonderful to paddle the Silver River every morning! That's a beautiful way to begin the day. I know what you mean about every kayak trip being unique, even those that we've paddled many times. I agree with Jodee—Pied-billed Grebes are so cute! They aren't as colorful or fancy as many other birds, but they really are adorable.

    1. My favorite parks have become those I can paddle every day. I would have adored your Eastpoint house.

  11. Such an amazing place and glad it's protected. You see SO many wonderful birds on these paddles. ~Gaelyn

    1. I couldn't agree more. It's a wonderful life. I'd probably stay here all winter if they would let me.

  12. Silver Springs was Pete’s and my first FL winter excursion three years ago! We really enjoyed it and you brought back many wonderful memories in your storytelling and photos! Thanks for the memories Sherry! 💜


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