ALEXANDER SPRINGS REC AREA
49525 CR 445
Altoona, FL 32702
Alexander Springs runs amid the Ocala National Forest, and was once inhabited by Timucuan Indians. A very popular recreation area, it is a first-magnitude spring with a flow of 76 million gallons daily, resulting in very high water clarity. Much of the river bottom is sugar-white sand, which further adds to the impressive transparency and sky-blue hue. In addition to paddlers, a number of snorkelers and scuba divers take advantage of the clear water. The springhead is in a large pool about 200 feet in diameter that is a popular swimming area. Beyond the springhead, the creek runs down a wide channel bordered by palm, maple, pine, and live oak draped in Spanish moss. Water lilies, cattails, and other vegetation thrive atop the water, channeling the stream flow.
The crystal clear water is wide and slow for the first hour or so of paddling, but downstream becomes quite narrow, swift, and intimate. Along the way, a number of quite large freshwater fish are easily spied, including catfish, bass, and alligator gar. The wading birds are also abundant. There is a well-equipped concession at the spring head where most paddlers put in, which provides food, drink, ice and rental gear. The river eventually empties into the St. Johns River. Paddlers choose their route among braided channels created by the watery vegetation. Downstream, islands create channels of their own. There is an entrance fee at Alexander Springs.
© April L. Gustetter