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

Henry David Thoreau

Salt Springs

Monday November 5, 2012
Site 81 Salt Springs Recreation Area
Salt Springs, Florida



Salt Springs Wednesday 018 The spring swimming area.

Salt Springs is located in the Ocala National Forest which is between Orlando and Ocala.  The forest encompasses approximately 383,000 acres and is the southernmost forest in the continental United States.  It protects the world's largest contiguous sand pine scrub forest.  There are more than 60 lakes, rivers and springs in Ocala National Forest.  Lots of places to kayak IF the water is not too far down.

The forest was established in 1908 and was one of the first National Forests east of the Mississippi.  There are 3 separate visitor centers and 16 campgrounds.  Most are primitive or no hook up meaning no electric or water at the sites but water available for filling your tank, bathrooms with hot showers and a dump station.  Some campgrounds are tents only.  5 are considered RV campgrounds although smaller RVs can find spaces in others. Salt Springs is the only campground with full hook ups.  There are numerous hiking trails in the forest including the  Florida National Trail.


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Pictures through the crystal clear water of the bottom of the swimming area in the spring.

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There are 4 major springs in the Ocala National Forest.  Two are first magnitude springs and two, including Salt Springs, are second magnitude.


We are currently staying at the Salt Springs campground which is an easy walk from the kayak put in and the spring.  We’ve taken the kayaks out although we have not kayaked the spring run yet.  We skipped it on Sunday because of the attraction of the manatee.  See that post here.


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We’ve been told to avoid it on week-ends due to power and air boats and to be careful to judge the wind since it is a wide run and coming back the 4 miles from Lake George can be difficult.


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The spring itself is a 2nd magnitude spring. A concrete wall, first built in 1946, rings three sides of the spring pool. The pool measures 110 feet in diameter. Mostly, the pool depth is 2-5 feet, but is up to 20 feet deep at the several spring vents that are scattered in the pool. The combined flow from these vents is around 52,000,000 gallons per day. A strong, cool, crystal clear current of this spring water issues into the spring run along a 3-4 foot deep, sandy-bottomed channel.   



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The springs are known as "salt" springs because the water rising to the surface passes through ancient salt deposits embedded within the limestone substrate.  The water is very clear, blue and salty.  While a number of coastal springs have marine life such as crabs, striped mullet, and needlefish, Salt Springs is almost 100 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, and the crabs are permanent residents.  The crabs first took up housekeeping in the spring when in past millennia this section of Florida was part of a shallow sea. When the land rose upward, they remained at the site because of the salty flow from the spring.  While running this morning I saw a big blue jimmy crab in the spring pool.   Unfortunately he was belly up.  Not sure what happened to him but I’d love to find out where they are in the spring run and take my net and chicken necks for some tasty dinner.


We spent two lovely hours down by the spring just sitting, walking, standing and being very quiet while we waited and watched the local residents getting on with their lives.


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Black and Turkey vultures,  mullet, great blue heron, anhinga, cormorant, snowy egret, gorgeous hawk, turkeys, kingfisher and others. 


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A face only a mother could love.

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The illusive kingfisher, finally, sort of….Salt Springs Wednesday 042A


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I’m in unfamiliar Hawk territory here.  He’s not a red tail or a red shoulder.  Anyone recognize him?  He is gorgeous.

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All gray back and head.  Mottled brown breast.

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And of course there were many trees to hug.  It was a great easy afternoon in a lovely tranquil place at least at this time of year and during the week.


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The high air temperature was a cool 67 degrees and the spring water a warm 72.  I thought seriously about going back for my bathing suit as the spring area was totally empty but decided I’d give it another day or two to warm the air up a little bit.  I really do want to be in that water before we leave.


  1. I'm sure that tree appreciated your hug. It probably was lonely now that the regular tourist season is over. ;c)

  2. Looks like the tree was hugging back. So glad you've found such a gorgeous place to enjoy. That spring water does look inviting and the warmth of it might feel good.

  3. Wow. Salt Spring. The Ocala NF. When visiting Ocala I almost always go check out the springs, either Juniper Springs or Salt Springs. I will be in Ocala to see my friend Bel from December 11 through the 15th. I surely hope that I can track you two down for a quick "hi" at least! That would be soooo great. I'll keep you posted, Sherry. Bel has been in the hospital for more than a month now but is supposed to be out in a few days.

  4. HAHaaa ... love hugging m'trees especially if nothing is secretly hanging where I'm a hugging...

    great pictures! poor ol crab! eww can't eat em ... you catch them with chicken necks??? oh, ewww poor ol chickens... man?

  5. What a nice looking spot to just sit and think....peacefull

  6. I would have said that that is a red-shouldered hawk- but I could be wrong.

  7. Now that we're in the lovely state of FL, we're anxious to see what it has to offer :) We have the Gulf on one side of us, and the Pensacola Bay on the other. Gotta be some nice birds around here :)

  8. I read that the vibrational properties of trees and plants give us health benefits and not the open green spaces. So hug all of them you can...in fact on my run I'm going to hug one myself!! PS. What lovely birds...all I've seen lately are robins!

  9. Beautiful pictures Especially liked the kingfisher pix as i live on King Fisher lane

  10. A lovely day....Loved the hawk photo..But can't help you there. Judy?

  11. I am learning (reluctantly) that there are some rewards in being still and observing. It certainly helps to have interesting critters to be watching. It is always good for me to practice gratitude when I am most resistant. Hugs to you and the tree :)

  12. Another lovely FL day to enjoy Mother Nature.

  13. Sure like that crystal clear spring water. Your photos are fantastic of both the water and the birds.

  14. So nice to see you hugging a tree again. Good therapy! I would also say a red shouldered hawk, but I'm not great at identifying birds. Don't you love the springs in Florida?

  15. Nice place, we have been by there several times and never thought to stop. Clearly a mistake:)

  16. What a beautiful and peaceful place. Enjoy
    The hawk maybe a young adult and so its feathers are not true. Is it large or med sized?
    Where's Judy ?

    The water really looks inviting.

  17. We were just in that area but didn't know about the springs. Looks like a great place to reconnect with nature and enjoy healing waters.

  18. Those look like two pictures of different hawks. The top one is an adult Cooper's hawk, while the second one indeed looks like a young red-shouldered. :)

  19. The bird pictures are great and there was so much history and info packed into this post - I enjoyed it - definitely a beautiful place there. Nice to see you show up in a picture on the blog - it's been awhile, I think!

  20. Beautiful birds no matter what kind of hawk. Salt water in the middle of Florida. Who knew?


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