Located at the heart of central Florida, the Ocala National Forest is sprinkled with tons of springs. It covers over 607 miles and was established in 1908 by Theodore Roosevelt as a national forest, making it the oldest established national forest east of the Mississippi. And found at the southern end of the forest is Alexander Springs.
When you first turn in, you will pay your entrance fee at the ranger shack. It is $8.00 per person on weekdays and $11.00 per person on weekends. These are the updated prices, it has not been updated on their website as of yet. For parking, you follow the road as it loops you around the parking lot. Spots for buses and guests with canoes are labeled. If you have a watercraft that you are taking out on Alexander Springs Creek, there is a driveway you can veer into and park to unload your watercraft. This is to the left of the restrooms/showers and shop to purchase needed concessions. To the right will be a walkway through picnic areas with grills and benches leading to the swim area.
This spring has a HUGE swimming area! There are two sets of stairs descending into the water. It starts off shallow, easy to stand around and play. Floaties of all shapes and sizes are allowed. You will want to bring snorkel gear to enjoy underwater views. The actual spring head, where water from the underwater aquifer gushes out, gets as deep as 25 feet. When you take a look below the surface you will see rock formations all around the spring head making this spring fun to snorkel down and explore.
Did you know that Alexander Springs is 1 of 27 first-magnitude springs that exist in Florida and is the ONLY spring in the Ocala National Forest you can scuba dive in!
Alexander Spring is the ONLY spring in Ocala National Forest where you can scuba dive. It is a good beginner dive or training area. Most divers spend time exploring the depth of the spring head. The force at which the water enters the spring from the aquifers can be at shocking speed. You will have fun exploring the caverns while enjoying passing visits from turtles and fish. Because it is spring water, the visibility is incredibly clear. Another reason this place is good for beginner divers wanting to get time in the water. You will need to make arrangements with a dive shop to rent gear if you do not have your own to bring to the spring. There is no extra fee to pay to scuba dive just pay your entrance fee. Remember, always have a dive buddy! Don't forget to bring all your scuba gear, wetsuit, dive license, and GoPro!
Alexander Springs Run
If you want to paddle Alexander Spring Creek, you can launch next to the swim area. Back where there is signage for unloading your watercraft, a sidewalk will lead you down to the launch area. It is quite a hike from the parking lot to the water. If you do not have your own, there are kayaks for rent. You can visit the concession stand shop to purchase your rental. They have single and double kayaks, and two and three-person canoes to rent. It is $20.00 for 2 hours, $28.00 for 4 hours, and $45.00 for the day.
The full length of Alexander Spring Creek is 6 miles, then blends itself into the St. John River. When first dropping in near the spring head the water is crystal clear. Make sure to look below for turtle friends nesting and swimming about the seagrass. You will also see smaller sand boils bubbling with that fresh spring water and sand. The clear waters don’t last long, not even half a mile down from the launch point, and it turns to murky river water. When paddling from the spring head, you will be moving with the current, so be mindful that it will be a bit more challenging on the paddle back. You will enjoy views of rich vegetation along the banks of the river and prairies of lily pads on the water. There is no shade coverage on this paddle, so wear appropriate garments and sunscreen. Don't forget to bring your personal watercraft (if not renting), PFD (life jacket), Extra Sunscreen, Snacks, Long Sleeve/ UV Shirt, Hat, Sunglasses, and GoPro!
Hiking Timucuan Trail at Alexander Springs
There is a short walking trail around the spring called Timucuan Trail. This interpretive hiking trail dives into the everyday lives of ancient people who once lived around Alexander Springs. The Timucuan Trail also provides an excellent snapshot of major habitats that occur throughout the Ocala National Forest, condensed into one short loop. Towering cabbage palms in the hydric hammock, diminutive oaks in the sand pine scrub, sweet-scented Southern magnolias in the hardwood hammock, and thickets of colorful wildflowers along the spring run are all part of the botanical beauty you'll see along this trail. With being just shy of a mile, this trail will change from sidewalk to dirt to boardwalk as it takes you on a journey through Florida foliage before you arrive at little lookouts over Spring Creek. If you are interested in fishing these overlooks would be the only spots where fishing is permitted.
Camping at Alexander Springs
For those wanting to camp, Alexander Springs has 67 areas for tents and RVs. It is recommended to make reservations ahead of time. If you have an RV, there is no hook-up for sewer, electrical, or water. There are showers and restrooms available for use.
Animals To See
Fish | Little Blue Heron | Anhinga | Great Egret | Florida Red-Bellied Cooter Turtle | River Cooter Turtle | Alligators | Otters
Things To Pack
Enter Central Florida’s own enchanted forest and begin discovering the crystal-clear gems hiding among the trees.