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Canoeing & Kayaking


Silver River, FL USA

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Photo Courtesy Rob Walker
Copyright 2002 Alfonso Vazquez-Cuervo - See Terms of Use

Our Route Summary

  • Submitted by: Morris Friedman
  • Date Submitted: 1/2002
  • Location: Ocala National Forest about 7 miles east of Ocala and a couple of miles east of Silver Springs, Florida
  • Class: 1
  • Distance Paddled: 8 miles round trip
  • Water Level:
  • Water: clear, fresh, artesian
  • Wildlife: Monkeys, water hyacinths, alligators, great blue herons, white ibis, large turtles. Cypress and palm trees, Bromeliads, "air plants", grew on the bark of moss-laden trees. Anhingas, sunning themselves along with great snowy egrets, were perched on the branches of trees along the banks and the protected Atlantic Sturgeon, a large, snout nose, ridged-back fish, surfaced for floating insects.
  • Special Regulations: Feeding monkeys, fishing, harming or taking plants or animals are all prohibited. Landing at the springs is prohibited by the concessionaires.

Entry and Exit

  • Directions: Exit Interstate 75 onto Route 40 east. Travel east on Route 40 about 12 miles. (You'll pass through Ocala, then through the town of Silver Springs.) Just over 1 mile east of the CR 315, take a right (south) onto a fork marked Ray Wayside Park. Continue southeast about 200 feet and take a right into the boat ramp parking area. (You'll launch from this boat ramp on the southwest side of Delks Bluff Bridge. You can see the tall bridge over the Ocklawaha just east of the turn off from Route 40 into the park,, so if you cross that bridge coming from I-75, you've gone too far.)
  • Fee: $2 per vehicle
  • Description: cement and dirt boat ramps
  • Parking: Paved
  • Facilities: Park, restrooms, picnic area, turning basin
  • Handicap Access:

What We Saw

This is the river that flows from the famous Silver Springs, which provides 550 million gallons a day of 99.8 percent pure artesian spring water.

Silver Springs has a long history. Timucuan Indians inhabited the area around the springs as early as the 1500's. They called the springs Ocali. The Spaniards, led by Hernando De Soto, invaded, looking for treasures, and were ultimately repelled by the Timucuans. Other Indian tribes, especially the Seminoles, occupied this land until moved by the Federal Government to western reservations in 1835.

As early as 1835, barges traveled up the Silver River carrying cotton, lumber and other goods. Today, thousands of tourists come to Silver Springs Park to ride on glass bottom boats and view the underwater magic of the crystal clear waters. The springs are the site of the original "Tarzan" movies, and descendents of the monkeys used in the films still inhabit the area

Photo Courtesy Rob Walker

You enter a straight channel from the boat launch, which takes you to the entrance of Silver Springs State Park. Turning right takes you 4 miles upstream to the springs. (Turning left and a 1/4-mile float takes you to the Ocklawaha River of which the Silver River is the major tributary.)

Paddling against a 1 to 3 m.p.h. current requires many rest stops and about 3 1/2 hours to reach the springs area.

Sadly, landing at the springs is prohibited by the concessionaires, however, the water, flora, and fauna make the trip well worth it.

Our paddlers were immediately impressed with the clarity of the water, which allows you to view the bottom continuously as you paddle. The return trip is a leisurely float with small correcting strokes. A mature hardwood forest provides a haven for an abundance of wildlife.

If possible, avoid weekends and start early in the morning to avoid motorized boat traffic which is allowed on this section.

This is easily one of the most beautiful paddles in Florida.