In the opening to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings novel The Yearling, Jody seeks the cool serenity of a spring, building a fluttermill in its shallows.
The Spring Boils Trail leads to the spring that inspired the author. It was within walking distance for the residents of nearby Pat’s Island to come here and collect clean, fresh water as they needed it.
While the walk to the spring is short and gentle, suitable for families and slow walkers thanks to its benches and boardwalk, it does a lovely job of showcasing the natural beauty of the Ocala National Forest.
It is the shorter of the two trails you can explore on a visit to Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area, its primary focus the springs.
Resources for exploring the area near Silver Glen Springs
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Location: Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area
Length: 1 mile round trip
Trailhead: 29.245815, -81.644155
Address: 5271 SR 19, Salt Springs
Fees: $6 per person
Restroom: Portalets at the parking area
Land manager: National Forests in Florida
Open daily 8-8. No pets or bicycles are permitted.
Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area is operated as a concession by Adventure Ocala. Questions about the recreation area should be directed to 352-625-3147.
From its intersection with SR 40 at a traffic light in the middle of the Ocala National Forest, follow SR 19 north for 5.9 miles, passing Juniper Wayside en route. The entrance to Silver Glen Springs is on the right across from the Yearling Trail sign.
Since the trail officially starts at the far end of the picnic area past the spring basin, it takes a quarter mile of walking just to get to the trailhead from the parking lot.
From the trailhead sign, the trail to the spring boils is a half-mile round trip.
Unless it’s a busy day, you won’t mind. You’ll pass the General Store and the trailhead for the Lake George Trail and will walk through the picnic grove to the fence along the spring basin. Follow it around to the right.
While the close-up views of the main spring vent and the Natural Well, a cylindrical spring where fish swirl, are no longer possible thanks to a new fence keeping you much farther back, the views across the turquoise water are still nice.
After a quarter mile, you reach the “Spring Boils Trail” sign, accompanied by a bear warning sign. Bears have been seen in this recreation area, tempted by food left out on picnic tables.
The trail leads into the leafy shade of hickory and sweetgum trees. Cabbage palms reach for the forest canopy.
Crossing a small bridge over a side stream, you see the purple blooms of spiderwort poking out of the grasses in the understory.
Winding along the ecotone between oak hammock and hydric hammock, the trail passes under an enormous hickory with an unusual bulge in its trunk.
Railroad ties hold in the hard-packed sand that makes up the footpath, preventing it from washing away into the hydric hammock. Netted chain fern grows in damp spots.
The trail becomes a boardwalk, heading downhill towards a clear spring run. Use caution, as the boardwalk may be slippery.
You reach a small platform with a great view of the sand boils. This is Jody’s Spring, named for the main character in The Yearling.
Published in 1938 and recounting the life of a pioneer family in the Big Scrub, the novel received a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1939.
Constantly erupting, the tiny spring boils push bubbles of sand up from the bottom of the stream. Walk up to the next platform, where the trail ends at the beginning of the run.
One hyperactive boil pushes up mocha-colored sand over the white sand bottom of the glassy stream. Small fish dart through the shallows.
Turn around and walk back along the trail. As you pass under the hickory tree, notice that the bulge is a massive cavity on this side of the tree, large enough to serve as home for a family of raccoons.
Following the fence around the springs, continue past to the line of old live oaks. Look closely, and you’ll notice that they’re growing atop massive shell mounds.
These are middens deposited here by early tribes who lived along the St. Johns River for more than three thousand years. They are densely packed with fossilized snail shells.
Enjoy exploring the Lake George Trail, taking a swim in the spring, or relaxing in the picnic area. The round-trip back to the parking area and restrooms is a mile.
Learn more about more activities at Silver Glen Springs as well as the other hiking trail available at this recreation area, the Lake George Trail.
With a strong aquamarine hue accented by refracted rainbows as sunlight plays across the ripples on its sandy bottom, Silver Glen Springs is a first-magnitude spring in the Ocala National Forest.
See our photos of the Spring Boils Trail
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.
Experience crystalline waters emerging from the midst of the world’s largest scrub forest along the Juniper Creek Nature Trail in the Ocala National Forest.
Paddling Juniper Run from Juniper Springs to the take out at SR 19 in the Ocala National Forest, a popular paddling trip along this sinuous, spring-fed waterway that winds through the Juniper Prairie Wilderness.