Take a hike around a giant sinkhole and explore the uplands above the Silver River at Silver River State Park. Near the environmental education center and Pioneer Village, start at the Sinkhole Trail archway for this 2.5-mile loop through sandhills, sand pine scrub, and oak hammocks surrounding a giant sinkhole. This trail offers both diversity of habitats and some interpretation along a side trail, the Old Field Loop. Watch for the many gopher tortoise burrows along the way. This trail interconnects with the Sandhill Nature Trail.
Location: Silver Springs
Length: 2.5 miles
Lat-Long: 29.200933, -82.034733
Type: Loop with connector to Sinkhole Trail
Fees / Permits: state park entrance fee
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Bug factor: low to moderate
Restroom: Yes, at the picnic area and environmental center
From I-75 exit 352 (Ocala), follow SR 40 for 8.4 miles through Ocala to Silver Springs. Turn south on SR 35, driving another 1.1 miles to the entrance to Silver River State Park on the left. The trailhead is accessed from the far parking area at the back of the park, near the museum.
Start this hike at the Sinkhole Trail archway along a wood-chip path past the Cracker village and picnic pavilions. The loop starts at a T intersection at the park entrance road. Turn right to head into a forest of sand live oaks. The trail turns left and rises into scrub, with myrtle oak and Chapman oak lining the footpath. Turn left at the picnic bench; the landscape transitions into sandhills. At the unmarked junction with the Sandhill Nature Trail at 0.8 mile, turn left to stay on the Sinkhole Trail.
The trail descends and crosses the park road at 1.1 miles, heading into a dense oak hammock. Turning left, it starts to follow the edge of the large sinkhole. You come to some picnic tables at 1.5 miles. From here, you can look down into the forest in the sinkhole, a mix of red maples, sweet gum, and live oaks. Turn right to follow the Old Field Loop, an interpretive trail into an old field where gopher tortoises burrow and young plants of the sandhills reclaim the land. Passing a picnic table, the trail follows the campground fence and meets back up with the Sinkhole Trail at 2.3 miles. Cross the park road and return along the bark-chip path to the trailhead to complete the 2.5 mile hike.