Silver Springs State Park

The boardwalk on the Swamp Trail

Silver Springs State Park is a 5,000-acre recreation theme park in itself. There are at least ten distinct natural communities represented on the property, with dozens of springs and fifteen miles of trails. The park is also home to the Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center and a pioneer cracker village exhibit.

The fifteen miles of marked and maintained trails on the property are open to hikers and bikers. The trails are sand and can be quite soft when dry. When wet, it can be messy. There are interpretive kiosks with trail maps at most trailheads.

The horse trails are well established. The entry point is at gate #5 on State Road 40: call the park for directions or watch for the signs. Riders will need to carry proof of a current negative Coggins test for their horses and everyone under the age of 16 needs to be wearing a helmet when mounted on a horse on state property.

Silver Springs State Park offers ten vacation cabins for rent. Each has a full dining area, one bath, two bedrooms, the usual kitchen appliances, dishes and utensils, heating and air conditioning, screened porch with rockers and picnic tables. Each cabin can accommodate up to six people. One cabin is universally accessible. On weekends and holidays the cabins have a two-night stay minimum.

Silver Springs State Park also offers a full facility campground with 59 spacious sites. Each site has water and electric hookups, picnic table, fire ring and barbecue grill. The park has a central RV dump station. Sites 20 and 53 offer universal access. There are central restroom and shower facilities in both campground loops.

The Youth Camping area has room for up to 50 campers. There are restrooms but no showers. There is running water but it is not potable. There are nine picnic tables, fire rings and self-mulching toilets in the group site. For every 10 kids, there must be at least one adult chaperon.

Silver Springs State Park is most famous for the quality of the canoeing and kayaking experience available. Most folks launch their boats on the peaceful Silver River from Rays Wayside Boat Basin on State Road 40 at the western side of the Ocklawaha Bridge. The other primary launch site is at the end of the River Trail but that requires that you carry your boat about 1/2 mile from the parking area to the launch site.

Silver Springs State Park is open for day use from 8 am until sunset every day of the year. If campers anticipate arriving after sunset, call the park the day of arrival to get instructions and a gate combination. Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center: open weekends and major holidays from 9 am to 5 pm. To get there: Silver Springs State Park is located one mile south of State Road 40 on State Road 35. You'll find the intersection of SR 40 and SR 35 on the east side of Ocala.

A cracker-style home in the Cracker Village exhibit
A Cracker-style home at Cracker Village
Map of Silver Springs State Park
Photos and map courtesy of Florida State Parks