Looking for bear? You have a better-than-average chance of spotting a Florida black bear at Rock Springs Run State Reserve, a vast wilderness area in the Wekiva River basin. This is the one park where we’ve seen the most evidence of our native Florida black bear: bear tracks, torn-apart stumps, fresh steaming lumps of bear scat, and a bear in a tree right at the front gate.
Location: Mount Plymouth
Fees: $3 per vehicle
Open: 8 AM until 6 PM daily.
Leashed pets welcome
The “reserve” part of the name means seasonal hunting is permitted here (for hogs and turkey, not bear, which are a protected species in Florida), and during those times, parts of the reserve may be off-limits to other recreational activities. For hunt dates, check Rock Springs Run WMA.
The trail systems have mileage in double digits, and provide ample space for hikers, mountain bikes, and equestrians to roam. Rock Springs Riding Ranch offers trail rides, and given the sheer size of the preserve, a great way to see it.
Encompassing habitats that slowly drop in elevation from high scrub, where Florida scrub-jay sightings are probable, down to the edge of crystal-clear Rock Springs Run, the multi-use trails are extensive. They are sometimes tough to follow, and sometimes deep in soft sand. We’ve gotten lost here more than once. A GPS or compass, and a map, are a must.
All campsites are primitive, and two can be accessed by paddlers on the run. No put-in is provided inside the preserve, but can be arranged through Nature Adventures or at King’s Landing in Apopka, adjoining Kelly Park. There is no access to the Wekiva River through the preserve.
Explore the park
- Rock Springs Run Hiking Trail - With more than 12 miles of hiking through the heart of Florida black bear territory, the Rock Springs Run Hiking Trail gets you into the wild outside Orlando.