NOTE: As of June 2022, this trail is closed for renovations.
In less than a mile, the Timucuan Trail covers all of the major habitats of the Ocala National Forest.
From spring-side hydric hammocks and floodplain forest to sand pine scrub, this short hike has it all.
It’s an integral part of the Alexander Springs Recreation Area, which offers swimming, camping, canoe and kayak rentals and shuttles, and access to the Florida Trail as well.
Resources for exploring the area
Disclosure: As authors and affiliates, we receive earnings when you buy these through our links. This helps us provide public information on this website.
Location: Alexander Springs Recreation Area
Length: 0.9 mile loop
Address: 49525 CR 445, Altoona
Fees: $8 weekday/$11 weekend per person day use fee
Restroom: At the day use area
Land manager: National Forests in Florida
Alexander Springs Recreation Area is operated as a concession by Adventure Ocala. Recreation area open 8-8.
Dogs are not permitted in the day use area, so you cannot take your dog on this hike.
From SR 40 east of Astor, turn south on CR 445A and follow the signs. After 0.4 mile, turn left on CR 445 and continue south into the Ocala National Forest for 5.7 miles to the recreation area entrance on the right, just after the bridge over Alexander Run.
From the large Timucuan Trail sign, a boardwalk leads into a lush hydric hammock, deeply shaded by cabbage palms.
Clusters of cinnamon ferns rise from patches of land between clear, sand-bottomed rivulets.
You feel as if you’ve walked into a lush jungle, and so it was for the Timucua who once lived along the banks of this spring.
Interpretive signs relate information about the habitat and its inhabitants.
At the junction with a rough sand footpath, follow the footpath, which climbs into an upland forest.
Hikers preferring an accessible surface should skip the footpath and continue along the boardwalk, which is a beautiful out-and-back hike in its own right.
Dogwood, oaks, and magnolia grow on a high bluff along a flowing creek.
The trail drops and turns to boardwalk to cross the creek. At the end of the boardwalk, roots invade the footpath and the soil may be squishy.
Up you go, through an upland forest and into the Big Scrub. Can you smell the the sweet aroma of silk bay?
Gnarled sand live oaks provide shade beneath the tall sand pines.
The trail soon enters another cabbage palm grove, where dark-green needle palms fill the understory. At 0.4 mile is another boardwalk and a stand of ancient cypress.
A side trail leads off to the right to a small sinkhole-like depression.
Dropping into a forest of magnolia trees, the Timucuan Trail curves left. At 0.6 mile, it meets the boardwalk again. Turn right.
Follow it to an observation platform, which offers an excellent view of Alexander Run as it comes around a curve.
This is the turn-around point. On the return trip, follow the boardwalk as it keeps close to the shore of the run.
Another side trail leads to an observation deck. It offers a view of the far shore and of the the swimming area at the springs.
The trail winds along through the younger hammock, crossing a sand-bottomed stream as you pass the end of the loop.
Turn right to exit, following the trail out to the day use area. Enjoy a walk along the waterfront on the return trip.
Learn more about Alexander Springs
See our photos of the Timucuan Trail
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
8.6 miles. Dive deep into the world’s largest sand pine scrub forest on this hike through the Big Scrub
10.5 miles. Hike the original miles blazed by Florida Trail Association trailblazers in 1966 along one of the most beautiful sections of the Florida Trail in the Ocala National Forest
With a campground and lakeside day use area at the southeast corner of the Ocala National Forest, Clearwater Lake Recreation Area offers an easy loop hike and access to the Florida Trail.