Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Fort King Kayak Trail, Rhesus Monkeys and more

Sunday December 18, 2016                                                             Most Recent Posts:
Silver Springs State Park                                                
Hiking the Swamp Trail at Silver Springs
Silver Springs, Florida                                                 Headed to Silver Springs, the Dreaded Oil Light Comes On



This morning I don’t have to take the kayak down to the launch site since it is already there.  So I walk the mile long River Trail with my paddles, PDF and water.  I don’t leave any of my gear with the kayak since there is no way to secure it and I have had my light weight carbon paddle stolen twice over the years.  Once when I literally turned my back for no more than a couple of minutes.




Just like the previous paddle on this river, the birds are out.



And lots of turtles sunning with their “look ma no hands” trick.




The tri colored heron is reflected in the still river.









I paddle with some purpose this time against the very managable flow coming from this first magnitude spring.  Silver Springs is actually a group of artesian springs that flow into the Silver River.  It is the largest artesian spring in the world they say and Florida’s oldest tourist attraction.   I’m always surprised that it is not more difficult to paddle up.



Silver Springs State Park was created on Oct. 1, 2013, when land that once held a commercial attraction at the spring headwaters was merged with the existing Silver River State Park..  The park still offers the famous glass-bottom boat tours which were Florida’s first starting in 1878.

As I near the spring head, off to my left is a kayak/canoe canal called the Fort King Waterway.   For the first time since the 1880’s, kayaks and canoes can launch at the spring headwater and paddle down a great narrow scenic twisting canal once restricted for use only by the commercial attraction’s Jungle Cruise.  I am coming up the back way since I launched at the state park campground dock rather than at the head spring launch.  The buildings I see on the shore are left from that time.  In addition to the fort, there is a town and a station, and the Silver River Landing.





I come around a bend and there is a sunken boat.


I paddle up more closely and see that numerous turtles and an alligator are sunning themselves.   I get out my camera for these pictures.



With my camera up to my eye, I don’t have my hands on my paddle.  I can control my kayak to a certain extent but I’m not really looking at where I’m going.




When he does this, I look up to see and I’m floating right toward the boat.  A little too close for my liking so I quickly back paddle for some more pictures.






I guess he was just yawning because he was sleepy.  Nap time!IMG_6335


Moving on up the canal, I come to what looks like it might be a couple of RV sites also from the late 1800’s.  I can barely read the site number.


Since they are right beside Fort King, perhaps they are work campers.  Or, do you have another idea?





Fort King is at the end of the kayak trail just before you arrive at the head spring.  This is the end most of the folks who launch here at the commercial end of Silver Springs State Park come into first.  So I’m sort of going against the flow of traffic, not that there is much.



I always love seeing the glass bottom boats.  I rode them with my Aunt Carrie as a very young child in the late 50’s.  I paddle over to the far side and hang around the head spring for a while.  The sun is unfortunately not in a good place for pictures.  It’s quite deep here.




Rules of the road here say that all other boats must give way to the glass bottom boats so it’s time for me to head back down the river.  This will be great since I can just float along with the current.



A nice female anhinga gives me the eye.  I love her soft tan color.  It looks like velvet rather than feathers.


Love the little blue heron’s green legs.



Silver Springs is actually a number of springs and I stop at one along the way down the river.  I can get a much better picture of the gorgeous blue color of the spring.  Across the river is the last picnic shelter.  I’m headed there next.



But then I see this guy swimming toward me so I make a wide loop and I’m still able to cross the river.






When I get to the other shore, I pull in and this is what I see.

In 1930, according to the Silver Springs Theme Park at that time, a fellow called Colonol Toohey operated the “jungle” tour and placed rhesus macaques monkeys, indigenous to Central and East Asia, on an island to delight his visitors. That’s the island the kayak trail goes by where all the buildings are located. 

He didn’t know that monkeys are good swimmers. The escaped monkeys have thrived ever since.  I was told there are actually 5 bands of monkeys around the park..  Because they’re an exotic species, state officials aren’t wild about them — but visitors are!   






I spend quite a while watching their antics as they climb around the trees and the picnic shelter.  There are people on the land near the picnic shelter also watching the monkeys.  I hope they are wise enough to realize they should stay away from wild animals.











Back down the river I go.



I am amazed to see another female wood duck..  I think this is the duck that must have inspired the 50’s high school boys haircuts.



They are usually so skittish.



Oh dear, it looks like someone is getting a good talking to.




This grouping of what I think is tickseed looks reallyl lovely at the base of the cypress along the river bank.



I also spot some swamp lily along the bank.




I spot  a cormorant pair as well as a candy corn bill pair of morhens.




And a little blue heron with his turtle pal.




But I almost don’t spot this gator lying deep in what I call the muck along the edge.



Pretty sneaky.



Back at the boat launch, I pull my boat up and walking down the path toward me is a Rhesus monkey from what I assume is another band.  I am at least 3 miles down river and on the other side from the ones I saw earlier.  I’m glad he and his band weren’t blocking the boat ramp so I couldn’t get out like they were on another river paddle we took.



He hustles along.  Hops up on the fence behind me and scoots out into the “jungle”.


It isn’t exactly “the jungle cruise” any more but it might as well be for all I’ve seen on my trip to the Silver River head spring and back today.

Next post will jump ahead an entire week so even though I’m still behind and probably always will be,  since I’m posting this on January 1, 2017, I can still wish you all a very


  1. Love the blue heron and the monkies, but you are killing me with these alligators. Good heavens.

  2. Such a wealth of wildlife there... those gators are formidable beasties!

  3. I've always heard about the glass-bottom boats but never took a tour on one. Think I would have seen one too many gators to suit me, but they look calm (and possibly calculating?) and you seem to get out of their way. Beautiful photos today (as always).

  4. Great paddle! Love all the gators. Super shot down that big guys throat:) The monkeys are so cute!! Happy New Year to you and David!

  5. What a fabulous jungle paddle! Your bird sightings and photos are gorgeous. I'm missing the wonderful Florida birding and kayaking this winter, so I'm glad you're taking me along on your journeys. Those big gators were a bit too close for comfort, though! Wishing you and David a wonderful year of adventures. :-)

  6. The Silver River paddle just makes me smile. Don't think it has ever disappointed!!! Great day with the monkeys and gators:o))

  7. What kind of music do those monkey bands play? ;c)

  8. We never got to see the monkeys when we were there. We did do the glass bottom boat ride, but silly us, we didn't kayak :(

  9. I would say your jungle cruise/paddle was every bit as good as any tour. Really too bad about the introduced monkeys. The monkeys in South Africa can be quite aggressive.

  10. Great shots of my feathered friends especially the ones you paired with. One of the things I had done enough of is paddle along those clear water and surrounded by those Florida wildlife.
    Here's wishing you and David another great year of travel and adventures.

  11. Hooray for preserves that actually enable this wonderful diversity of species to survive & thrive! That's for capturing and sharing the booty you collected on your paddle! Wish I had been able to go too!

  12. Great pictures! Love the gator with his mouth open and the monkeys, even though they are non-native. Lovely paddle...so much to see!


Your comments are the best part of this blog for me.
I LOVE hearing from you!