Hike to Silver Springs

Thursday January 28th 2021

The last few days have been ten or more degrees above normal. After last nights passing cold front, today was ten degrees below normal. The high temperature barely broke sixty and there was a strong north wind. The bright sunshine was the only positive factor in today’s weather.

Yesterday at the end of the Swamp trail hike, I discovered the poorly advertised spring head trail that connects the campground area of the state park with the attraction area of the state park. The trail is 2.4 miles long and follows the same path as other park trails for about half its length.

I set out from my RV home just before noon. After walking the third of a mile to the trail head I began the hike to Silver Springs (the attraction). The trail is well marked and well maintained, but not that interesting a hike. It passes through tall pine and hardwood forests. In some areas the trail passes through land that was deliberately burnt a few years back. The undergrowth has only grown about two feet high and many of the tall trees still show evidence of the burn. The trail arrives at the back of the attraction parking lot near the kayak and canoe launch ramp.

My first visit to Silver Springs was as a kid in the mid 1960s. We took a glass bottom boat from route 40 up the length of the Silver River to the springs. My most vivid memory of the visit was watching a reptile show where a rattlesnake was “milked” for its venom. The second time I visited the attraction, I never got inside. It was during the 1980s. The park had added amusement rides and other attractions to compete with Disney World. The problem was it raised its prices to Disney levels and I didn’t have all day to get the value out of the cost. My third visit was around the turn of the century. The park wasn’t in the best condition and the amusement rides were gone or in the process of being removed, but the glass bottom boat ride was well worth that visit.

Today I just walked the trails, toured the gardens and took pictures. I checked out the pandemic protocols on the boats and wasn’t impressed. Mask use was not enforced and nothing prevented other people from sitting right beside you. All they were doing was limiting the number of passengers. I suspect it was low risk, but not low enough to cross my paranoia threshold.

Here are the pictures I took today.

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