When botanist William Bartram paddled up to Salt Springs from the St. Johns River, he marveled at his find. We can only imagine what a wild place it may have been then, surrounded by ancient cypresses and oaks. In 1774, he shared it with the world in his Travels, describing the spring as an “amazing crystal fountain.”
Location: Salt Springs
Lat-Lon: 29.354897, -81.734478
Fees: $5.50 per person
Open daily at 8 AM, closes before dusk
Dogs are NOT permitted at Salt Springs Recreation Area.
The swimming area surrounding Salt Springs is ringed with walls and walkways, with specific access points via staircases and steps into the spring. Its 52 million gallon per minute flow gushes out a broad spring run the width of a river, which flows out of the Salt Springs Recreation Area, past the Salt Springs Marina, and continues through the Ocala National Forest for a little more than 4 miles until it meets the St. Johns River. The swimming area is roped off and swimmers should stay inside the roped area for safety’s sake, as boaters often anchor as close as possible to the ropes.
Up on the hillside above the spring, set beneath a canopy of grand live oaks, picnic pavilions, benches, and grills provide places for families to plan their gatherings between dips in the cool, clear water.
Salt Springs Recreation Area also includes access to the spring run for fishing and canoe/kayak launch at a steep unimproved boat ramp. The Bear Swamp Trail features a boardwalk beneath ancient cypresses. A large campground provides plenty of shaded sites for visitors, with separate sections for RV and tent camping.
- Bear Swamp Trail- Little known except to those who frequent Salt Springs Recreation Area in the Ocala National Forest, the Bear Swamp Trail provides a walk into an ancient forest
- Ocala National Forest dog policy- Except for service dogs, dogs are no longer permitted in Alexander Springs, Salt Springs, Silver Glen Springs, Juniper Springs, Clearwater Lake, Fore Lake, Lake Dorr and Mill Dam Recreation Areas in the Ocala National Forest.