Silver Glen Springs
Silver Glen Springs--a popular stop on the St. Johns River
General Description: Snorkeling in a clear spring pool, plus trail walking to points of interest.
Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area
about 30 miles south of Palatka on State Road 19. Or, about 6 miles north of the interesection of State Road 40 and State Road 19.
N 29 deg, 14 min 51 sec, W 81 deg, 38 min, 34 sec
Finishing Point: Same place.
Maps: Pick up a trail map at the concession stand.
Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area: 352-685-2799
Ocala National Forest Ocklawaha Visitor Center, 3199 NE County Road 315, Silver Springs, FL 34488: 352-236-0288
Ocala National Forest Salt Springs Visitor Center, 14100 N State Highway 19, Salt Springs, FL 32134: 352-685-3070
As far as I know, no place else in the world has the abundance of crystal clear karst springs such as we have here in Florida.
Deep beneath the earth, clear and pure water bubbles its way through Florida's porous limestone foundation. Much to the delight of snorkelers such as myself, once in a while this underground water manages to gush forth to the surface in a great flow, creating a wonderfully clear spring pool and spring run just made for an afternoon of underwater fun.
The spring pool here at Silver Glen Springs is about 200 feet across. While it's only about 2 to 3 feet deep in many places, around the springs the depth is about 18 feet. One well-executed surface dive takes you to the bottom where you can peer into the two caves where the waters gush from beneath the earth.
One interesting feature about Silver Glen Springs is you find both saltwater and freshwater fish here. You'll see large mullet, freshwater panfish, maybe some blue crabs, and I've even seen small sting rays scooting along the sandy bottom of the spring run.
After your snorkel in the springs' very cool waters, you may wish to warm up by taking a walk along one of the two trails in the recreation area. The mile-long Lake George Trail goes east from the picnic area through a forest of live oaks, cedars, sabal palms, and saw palmettos. About a third of the way along the trail, you come to Lake George, the second-largest freshwater lake in Florida, outdone only by that most magnificent body of water—Lake Okeechobee. Lake George is 5 miles wide and 18 miles long, with an average depth of 10 feet. The rest of the trail meanders along the lake's shore.
The Boils Trail goes west for about three quarters of a mile, beginning along the north end of the spring pool. The trail is named for the many, small sand boils in the area. A sand boil is a place where water bubbles to the surface from beneath the sand, creating bubbly, moving sand, similar to, if not the same as, quicksand. Having waded these sand boils as a teenager many years ago when Silver Glen was undeveloped, I wondered then if this was Florida's answer to quicksand. I'd cautiously step out only to sink to my knees or sometimes to my waist in what at times appeared to be firm, sandy bottom.
Silver Glen Springs is strictly a day trip, as there are no camping facilities in the recreation area. There are, however, a concession stand, portable toilets, picnic tables, and changing rooms for getting into and out of bathing suits. Canoes are available for rent. The area is for daytime use only. Hours of operation are from 8 AM to 8 PM during daylight savings time and 8 AM to dark during standard time. Cost for use of the area is $4.00 per person.
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