5/2023: CLOSED while a wildfire rages through this area
As one of the region’s major springs, Silver Glen Springs pours its essence into a stream that flows into Lake George.
Its waters are fed by many smaller springs, some of which you’ll see from the Spring Boils Trail.
Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area is an important archaeological site as well, edged by ancient middens thick with fossilized snail shells.
Resources for exploring the area near Silver Glen Springs
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Location: Ocala National Forest
Trailhead: 29.247204, -81.643036
Address: 5271 SR 19, Salt Springs
Fees: $8/person weekdays, $11/person weekends
Restroom: Portalets at the parking area
Land manager: National Forests in Florida
Open daily 8-8. Operated as a concession by Adventure Ocala.
No pets or bicycles are permitted. No potable water is available other than buying water bottles at the entry station.
We strongly suggest you don’t leave anything lying around on a picnic table or chair in the day use area as raccoons have been known to make off with towels, clothing, and food. Bears are known to enter the picnic area as well.
As with other springs in the Ocala National Forest, we’ve found it best to visit early on a weekday, particularly if you want to swim or snorkel. The entry road will be closed when parking reaches capacity. An online reservation system is planned for parking.
From Interstate 75 in Ocala, drive east on SR 40 for 34.5 miles, through Ocala, Silver Springs, and into the heart of the Ocala National Forest, passing the entrance to Juniper Springs about 9 miles before the traffic light at SR 19. Turn left at the light and continue 5.9 miles north to the entrance to Silver Glen Springs on the right, across from the Yearling Trail. From Interstate 95 in Ormond Beach, it’s 34 miles west along SR 40 to reach the same traffic light at SR 19.
About the Spring
One of the beauty spots of the Ocala National Forest, Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area has also been “loved to death” over the decades.
It is extraordinarily busy on weekends, and you’ll usually see a crowd of boats, including houseboats, in the spring run.
Stairs lead down into the water for swimming in the cool spring outflow. The main spring boil rages with tremendous power as it pushes the surface of the water upward.
Its deep sinkhole-shaped vent blows iridescent fossil snail shells upward like confetti, pouring 72 million gallons a day downstream into Lake George.
A second significant spring, the Natural Well, is roped off to keep swimmers out. It attracts many fish to its depths.
While you used to be able to look down from the bluff above and see the swirls of fish inside, that is no longer possible.
We were genuinely distressed on our last visit to discover all understory vegetation where the picnic grounds overlook the spring basin removed, which provided cover for wildlife.
Reaching out for answers to the Forest Service, we were informed that this and the massive wood fence built at the same time were done for erosion control.
Picnic areas are provided both near the natural well, by the start of the Spring Boils Trail, and near the entrance to the spring for swimmers. Each has grills, picnic tables, and bear-proof garbage cans.
Stay with your food as wildlife will get into it if you leave it unattended. The fenced areas should not be crossed as they cordon off archaeological sites.
There are two very worthwhile hikes within Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area. The first is an easy one, the Spring Boils Trail.
This half mile round-trip circles the main spring basin and leads into its forested edge to a boardwalk overlooking bubbling sand boils. Visitors of all ages will love seeing the bubblers.
The Lake George Trail is a 2.3-mile round trip in the opposite direction, towards the shoreline of the largest lake in the St. Johns River.
Multiple overlooks, lush forests, and a bit of lakefront walking at the far end of the trail make this a delightful hike.
A delight to visit, the Spring Boils Trail showcases bubbling springs both big and small, starting within sight of the main springs at Silver Glen Springs before it leads you to coves of tiny bubblers
Canoe and kayak rentals are available from the concessionaire, or you can bring your own and launch at a designated site down a road leading from the parking area to the spring run.
Rentals cost $20-45 plus a $20 deposit. There is no launch fee to launch your own.
From the put-in, you can paddle around the spring run basin, which is rather broad. Middens stand along its south shore, while its north shore is a floodplain forest.
If you cross the sandbar and exit into Lake George, the open water is daunting. Hug the near shoreline and enjoy the views across the expanse.
Except for service dogs, dogs are not permitted at 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
Silver Glen Springs is one of four first magnitude springs in the Ocala National Forest. Learn more about what you can see and do in the Ocala National Forest.
See our photos of Silver Glen Springs
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
5.3 miles. On Pat’s Island, discover the landscape and the history that inspired Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings to write her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Yearling in 1938.
One of the most scenic segments of the Florida Trail, the hike from Pat’s Island to Hidden Pond immerses you in the Big Scrub en route to an oasis in Florida’s desert.
10.6 miles. Marvel at a mosaic of ancient scrub forest, vast prairies, and pine islands while crossing the Juniper Prairie Wilderness