Alexander Springs, Florida
Alexander Springs -- Another of Florida's First Magnitude Springs
With a daily outpouring of 70 million gallons, Alexander Springs is another of Florida's first magnitude springs. Its crystal-blue
waters come from karst layers deep beneath the earth, giving rise to Alexander Creek, the spring run that meanders for 10 miles through wild Florida before
it finally meets up with the north-flowing Saint Johns River.
To me, Florida springs are more than just bodies of water. They are the exquisite artistic creations of the Grand Designer,
beckoning one and all to enjoy their unsurpassed beauty from both above and below the crystal surface.
I mean, check out that spring boil in the above photo. In Florida, we may not have snow-capped peaks and distant
mountain vistas, but we have these amazing clearwater springs that have stirred the imagination of people for, I'll bet,
thousands of years.
No wonder Ponce De León heard rumors of a Fountain of Youth. I can see how it was within the scope
of sixteenth-century thinking to believe that a spring like that just might keep you forever young.
Heck, even if it doesn't, it will definitely keep you delightfully cool. And believe me, on a hot and humid July
Florida day, that's worth a lot.
For obvious reasons, this spring is popular with snorkelers and SCUBA divers alike. Maximum depth is about 25 feet, making it most suitable
for open-water SCUBA classes, and I believe it's used a lot for open-water checkout dives.
Alexander Springs is a big, natural, heated swimming pool--if you can call a steady year-round 72-degree water temperature heated. In
the summer, it's cool and inviting, and in winter, well, at least it's warmer than the typical air temperature. Once you're in the water,
it matters not whether it's January or July, the temperature is the same.
Many people enjoy canoeing or kayaking on Alexander Creek, the spring run. The Recreation Area even runs a shuttle to pick you up downstream. If you don't
want to go the distance to the shuttle point, you can do what a lot of folks do and just paddle downstream and return. The
current is a mere one mile per hour, so paddling upstream is no problem.
The Beginning of Alexander Creek
In case you don't have a boat to paddle, you can rent a canoe here at the Federal
Rental Canoes Are Available
The Alexander Springs Recreation Area has 66 wooded campsites for tents or RVs up to 35 feet. Washrooms and hot showers are available.
There are no electricity or water hookups. There are, however, potable water spigots shared among each few campsites. You must
retrieve your water from the spigot for camping use. Electricity generators are permitted up to a stated time in the evening--10 PM
is what I recall being told. For RVs, there is a waste station available.
Alexander Springs Campsite
Alexander Springs Campground
The Timucuan Trail is a one-mile loop near the springs area picnic ground. Also, there's a blue-blazed spur side trail
connecting to the Florida Trail. Finally, there is a 22-mile mountain bike trail known as the Paisley
Woods Bicycle Trail. The information I have says you can get to it via the blue spur trail.
Florida has around 2,000 black bears, give or take a few hundred. Most of these are concentrated in five major areas, one of which
is the Ocala/Wekiva River Basin. The word I've always had is there has never been a documented case of an attack on a human by a black
bear in Florida. That doesn't mean you can forget about bears. Just keep your food away from them, and you'll probably be fine. But
if a hungry bear, or even a bear with the munchies, sniffs food and you're in the middle of that sniff zone, well, that's not good.
When in the Ocala National Forest, use good sense, and stay Bear
The Ocala National Forest is a Florida Black Bear Hang-out
There is a small concession store on the premises. Check with the recreation area for hours of operation.
The Concession Store
Reservations, and More Info
For more information, call the Salt Springs Visitor center at 352-685-3070. It's located
at Salt Springs, but they can also give you information on Alexander Springs, and other areas
of the Ocala National Forest.
Or, you can call the Ocklawaha Visitor Center at 352-236-0288.
For camping reservations, call 1-877-444-6777. Maximum stays are 180 days. That's what they told me--180 days. I guess that means you could
spend the whole winter here if you wanted to.
Or visit http://www.recreation.gov.
Also, check out http://fs.usda.gov/ocala