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, including one featured in the opening scene of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Yearling.
Location: Silver Glen Springs
Length: 1 mile from parking area / 0.5 mile from trailhead
Lat-Long: 29.245815, -81.644155
Fees / Permits: $5.50 per person recreation area fee
Bug factor: moderate
Restroom: at the parking area
Dogs are NOT permitted at Silver Glen Springs.
Enjoy swimming, canoeing and kayaking, and picnicking at Silver Glen Springs, which is also home to the Lake George Trail. The parking area for the Yearling Trail is just across SR 19. The recreation area gets very busy on weekends.
From its intersection with SR 40, follow SR 19 north to the recreation area. It’s on the right to the north of Juniper Creek, about 10 miles north of the intersection.
It’s a quarter mile walk through the park to get to the beginning of the Spring Boils Trail, but 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 before reaching the edge of the main springs. When you reach the fenceline, follow it around to the right. Stairs provide access for swimming.
Looking down into the main spring, you’ll marvel at the crystal-clear water with its slight aquamarine tint. As you walk along the fence, you come to a second spring, the Natural Well, roped off to keep swimmers out. Thick tapegrass emerges from this spring vent, attracting swirling schools of mullet and striped bass, seagoing fish that have taken up permanent residence in these warm waters. Continue along the fence, rounding the Natural Well, passing another staircase leading down into the spring.
At 0.2 mile, you come to the “Spring Boils Trail” sign, accompanied by a bear warning sign from USFS. The state’s largest population of Florida black bears roams the Ocala National Forest, and food left out on the picnic tables can tempt bears down towards the spring. 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. A red buckeye displays bright red blooms all winter. Railroad ties hold in the hard-packed sand that makes up the footpath, preventing it from washing away into the hydric hammock. Netted chain 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, where in the opening to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings novel The Yearling, Jody seeks the cool serenity of the spring. 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 down 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 fenceline back 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—middens from early tribes who lived along the St. Johns River for more than three thousand years.
Continue past the trailhead for the Lake George Trail and up to the General Store to exit.