Florida has got some of the most powerful springs on earth and the silver spring is one of them which discharges more than 23.000 liters per second of crystal clear water. The silver spring has formed an ecosystem of river and channels filled with a huge variety of plants and wildlife over the last centuries. It’s an unforgettable experience to paddle along the tree-shaded Fort King Paddle Trail and the Silver River for one or two hours. On this trip you will most likely see wildlife.
Key facts about the paddling tour
1 – 2 hours
Historic structures reminiscent
no traffic noise
majestic oaks, prairie grasslands, forest wilderness
Silver Springs State Park is open year-round, from 8am to sundown. You can see wildlife in every month. You have warm to hot summers and mild winters in this area. Both is possible, renting a kayak or bringing your own kayak with you. The launch fee for your own kayak is $4. The rental station opens at 8am. The last rental is at 4pm. The kayak must be returned by 5 PM. The hourly rate for a single kayak starts at $15. Guided tours are also offered. Details here: Link
Getting to Silver Spring State Park
The Silver Springs State Park is a 1.5h drive to the north of Orlando. The park’s main entrance is located on the State Road 40, east of Ocala. After passing the main entrance you just need to drive all the street NE 29th down to the parking lot. Silver Springs Canoe and Kayak Launch, Silver Springs, FL 34488, USA, is located some meters behind the parking lot. You can leave the car in the parking lot and walk the rest to the rental station.
The round trip – Fort King Paddle Trail and Silver River
It’s a short kayak trip of 1,6 miles but one of the adventurous we ever made. You can see so much wildlife, and the water is so crystal clear in some spots that you can watch turtles or fish swimming underneath your kayak. We’ve started with the Fort King Paddling Trail. When the Fort King Paddle Trail ends you turn left onto the Silver River.
Regarding the scenery we preferred the first part, the Fort King Paddling Trail. It’s the more adventurous part of the kayak trip. We felt being in one of the Jurassic Park movie. Do not rush through this part, just enjoy every second.
A little highlight of the Fort King Waterway is the re-creation of the stockade style wooden fort “Fort King” built during the Seminole wars in the 1800s.
The highest chance of spotting alligators is when the sun shining because alligators love bathing in the sun. Have a look at the shores where some sun’s rays meet the water. Please keep enough distance to them.
Silver Springs consists of several springs which you can see on the silver river. Just watch out for the bright azure water places. Please bear in mind that swimming in the water of the silver springs state park is not permitted.
Is it worth driving from Orlando for short paddle trip? In case of good weather forecast, definitively worth. You see great nature and wildlife. We saw more alligators than in the everglades.
Three ideas for other activities around
Swimming and snorkeling with manatees
An hour drive to the west from Silver Springs State Park is the Three Sisters State Park, located at the Chrystal River. It’s the only place in the states where swimming with manatees is not prohibited. In all the other places it is only permitted to watch them from boats or boardwalks. Manatees season is between mid november and end of march. You should bear in mind that these are wild animals and touching them is strictly prohibited. For more information see the website of Three Sisters Springs Park.
Hiking in the largest subtropical forest of the states
The Ocala National Forest is a subtropical area consisting of lonely rivers and palm forests. Just half an hour from the Silver Spring State Park. In this national forest you get a clue what the wide Florida had looked like before the Europeans arrived. A short hike for a first impression is the Timucuan trail located within the Alexander Springs Recreation Area. For more information visit the website of Ocala National Forest.
Snorkeling to a spring
The Alexander Springs is actually a little lake with crystal clear water, surrounded by palm trees and other subtropical plants. You can snorkel to the very blue middle of the lake and see huge water masses getting out of the spring. Please always watch out for alligators before going into the lake. For more information visit the website of Ocala National Forest.