Last month we visited Alexander Springs on our “Diversions and Excursions” expedition. Only a hop, skip and jump away, perfect for a combined visit, Silver Glen Springs is another Ocala National Forest treasure to venture to on a sweltering Florida summer day. A quick 15-minute drive east through the pine scrub forest takes you from Alexander to Silver Glen Springs, to the doorway of this otherworldly aqua gem. Considered by many to be the clearest of all of the 900 Florida springs, it’s known for both its iconic underwater rainbows that appear when the light hits just right, and the twisted palm tree that dances over its sparkling waters. Both are a delight to the eyes and make for the perfect Instagram moment.
Take a dip into this snorkeler’s paradise, with its two main spring vents that are busy bubbling out 65 million gallons of water daily. Dive down to the source of its first magnitude beauty which sits in about 15-20 feet of water and try to hold your hand above the vent – it poses a fun challenge for those willing to try. One can equate it to a pool filter pumping out water on steroids. The natural beauty of the spring spills out into Lake George, the second largest body of freshwater in Florida, second only to Lake Okeechobee. Its accessibility by boat creates somewhat of a party atmosphere right outside the swim area, a playground for boats, kayaks and canoes, with music bellowing and laughter echoing across the water. On the day we visited, calypso music played loudly, as a heated game of sand volleyball was going on in the shaded courts. Families grilled in the picnic area, the smell of charcoal igniting nostalgia within me. Young children splashed in the shallow waters. More adventurous divers explored the depths, almost 40 feet in the area known as “the well,” and many posed on the famous palm tree for a photo. The “Spring Boils Trail” gave those looking for a pretty walk through the scrub forest the chance to glimpse the elusive bear, hog and bobcat that roam the area. In winter months, manatee gather here to escape the colder coastal waters. Gators are always possible, but we saw none on our visit. Native American burial mounds are now protected by fencing, a testament to the rich history of the area and its importance to the tribes that once roamed the land. Due to its popularity, reservations are required to visit the park on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day through Labor Day, so plan accordingly.
Check off another gem in your Florida Spring passport when you take the plunge into Silver Glen Springs. Whether visiting by car, boat or kayak, dipping your toes into this popular hangout will become a summer favorite for the whole family.
Editor’s note: Click here for more ideas for cooling off in Florida’s natural springs.