Portals into the past: the twin springs of Gemini Springs tap ancient waters from the Floridan aquifer, bubbling up through a network of limestone channels to breach the surface and nourish a lush hammock of cabbage palms with their humidity. Ancient peoples lived along the spring run and left behind middens, the remains of shellfish they’d eaten, in piles along the shores.
The flowing fresh water attracted pioneer settlers over 150 years ago, when the Padgetts cleared the land and settled along the marshes on the outskirts of busy Enterprise. By 1994, the land became a 210-acre preserve protecting its namesake springs and archaeological sites. With its mix of gentle woodland paths and paved trails, playgrounds and picnic area, a paddling trail and a dog park, Gemini Springs Park is a popular local getaway for outdoor recreation just off Interstate 4.
Length: Up to 5 miles
Lat-Long: 28.864557, -81.309475
Fees / Permits: free
Bug factor: moderate to annoying
Restroom: flush toilets
Open sunrise to sunset. Canoe launch and canoe rentals available. No swimming is allowed. Dogs are welcome; in fact, there is a dog park at one end of the park. A primitive campsite is available for tent campers for a small fee, call ahead to reserve: 386-736-5953. Sites cost $10-20, depending on the time of year or special events on site.
Trails are shared with off-road bicycles. The Spring-to-Spring Trail, a paved bicycle path, connects this park with Green Springs Park in Enterprise. Gemini Springs Park also connects to the Gemini Addition, which has its own winding trails branching off a southerly segment of the Spring-to-Spring Trail ending near the St. Johns River at Lake Monroe Park.
From Interstate 4 exit 108, go west on Dirksen Drive for 1.6 miles to the park entrance. Turn left and enter the park road. Where the park road splits, keep left and make the first right to head down to the canoe launch area.
Several miles of paved and unpaved trails let you make your own loops through the extensive oak hammocks surrounding the twin springs of Gemini Springs and their broad spring run pouring out into DeBary Bayou. You can hike a half mile, a mile, or up to five miles on the park paths.
Our favorite approach is via the parking area under the oaks near the dog park. Walk down past the picnic pavilions and playground and cross the first bridge on your right. Immediately on the right is an observation deck overlooking the first of the two springs, a placid pool where tiny fish fight the current to stay in the bubbling flow.
The spring run starts here, flowing into the broader reservoir created when the Gray family built the dam and reservoir to hold the spring waters back for their cattle ranch, along with the spring house and arched bridges. At this end, it looks like a primordial jungle of palms. Crossing the next bridge, you have the option of following a side trail that loops around a placid sink, or sticking to the paved path under the grand live oaks and palms with its views across the waterway.
Reaching the dam, you again have choices as to your trail route. Leaving the pavement and slipping off along DeBary Bayou to the right, the unpaved path takes you to great birding spots and an ancient oak that lays almost on its side, tempting as a seat above the activity in the marshes. You can loop back to the first spring via the trails in the oak hammock or walk back via the paved Spring-to-Spring Trail, a busy bicycle path.
Crossing the dam, enjoy a sweeping view of the bayou. Be sure to look down into the water for schools of mullet, needlefish, and gar. On the north side of the dam, take a wander down to the boardwalk deck at the canoe rental area. Just past the canoe launch, the concrete path yields to a natural surface trail into an oak hammock, where Spanish moss thickly drapes the ancient live oaks. Near a bench, interpretive signs talk about the habitat and the trees you’ll see in this shady hammock. You can wander up to two miles on these loops.
On your return, follow the north side of the waterway from the dam towards the Spring House. Just past it is the second of the Gemini pair, another spring with a boardwalk overlook, another place to watch the constant parade of aquatic and bird life. Continue up past the restrooms towards the picnic pavilions to exit.
Explore the park
- Exploring the Gemini Springs Addition- It took a serendipitous turn one morning for us to stumble across a new-to-us hiking trail not fifteen minutes from home. Now we’d thought we’d covered everything nearby when were were looking for trails while finishing up “Five Star Trails Orlando,” but this one slipped past us. Perhaps due to the location – access to […]
- Focused on Gemini Springs- Gemini Springs Park is known for its interplay of open, sunlit spaces and deeply shaded oak hammocks. It made an ideal testing ground for our photography.
- Nature, or Not? Thoughts on the Gemini Springs Addition- Our opinion: why DeBary's plans to take a portion of the Gemini Springs Addition for economic development is wrong on so many levels, and what you can do to express your concern.