When the Mayaca Indians inhabited the area they referred to it as ‘Acuera’ or ‘Healing Waters’. However, today it is better known as De Leon Springs State Park.
The likes of swimming, boating, canoeing and kayaking are popular in certain sections of it, while many people partake in scuba diving and snorkeling too.
Fishing and hiking on trails that take you through a verdant subtropical forest, is another well practiced activity at this Florida state park.
While the park is also a haven for those who enjoy birding, botany and wildlife watching, with a diverse range of species of all residing within it.
All things considered, if you are looking for a destination that allows you to rest and relax in the bosom of nature, De Leon should be on your ‘must visit’ list.
Visitors to the park can partake in a plethora of outdoor recreational pursuits during their time at De Leon Springs State Park.
Showcased below is some more information about the activities you can do whilst you are there.
Boating and paddling at De Leon Springs State Park
For those who enjoy heading out on the water the park provides plenty of opportunities to get your fix.
As the Spring Garden Run begins at the park and joins the St. Johns River about 10 miles later, boating is particularly popular here. However, boaters are advised that there are several manatee zones between the park and Lake Woodruff, so should exercise caution.
Talking of Lake Woodruff, this serene 22,000 acre body of water is the perfect spot to enjoy kayaking, paddleboarding and canoeing amidst picturesque surroundings.
If you did not bring your own watercraft with you, these vessels can be rented at the park quite inexpensively.
Scuba Diving and snorkeling at De Leon Springs State Park
If you would rather explore under the water, the likes of scuba diving and snorkeling can also be engaged in.
However, some restrictions do apply. Scuba diving, for instance, is restricted to the instructional type as taught by insured and fully certified instructors who hold a valid Florida State Parks dive permit. Both recreational diving and free-diving within the cave are also prohibited.
In addition, everything you see under the water is protected by state law and therefore must not be collected or otherwise disturbed.
Similarly, snorkeling is only allowed in the designated swimming area, because due to the presence of alligators you are forbidden to snorkel within the Spring Run.
Swimming at De Leon Springs State Park
Swimming is a popular activity at the park, especially during the warmer months of the year. So you will definitely want to bring your swimming costume with you.
Covering a circumference of around 500 feet, the swimming area at the beach is a constant 72 degrees. (If you swim round it nine times you would have swam a mile).
If you decide to go for a dip here you will be doing so at your own risk as the water is not lifeguarded.
Please note, swimming – like scuba diving and snorkeling – is not allowed in Spring Garden Run on account of the alligators.
Fishing at De Leon Springs State Park
If you are into fishing you will love the opportunity to cast a line at the park.
You can do this at the Spring Garden Run, as well as the fishing pier. However, cast nets and snatch hooks are forbidden.
Depending on the type of fishing you do, you might need a license. You will also need to conform by the park’s rules and regulations.
However, if you have been given the green light to do so, you can expect to catch plenty of snook, sea trout, redfish, tarpon and flounder.
Hiking at De Leon Springs State Park
For those who want to explore the park on foot there are several miles of trails which enable you to do so.
One of the most popular of them is the Wild Persimmon Hiking Trail, which is a scenic 4-mile loop that showcases some of the park’s most beautiful nature spots.
The park also has a paved, half-mile long nature trail that is wheelchair-accessible. This fabulous course guides you through a floodplain forest that is full of hardwoods – including a cypress tree that is believed to be over 600 years old!
Birding at De Leon Springs State Park
As the park lies within the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail it is a very popular spot for birding.
People from all over Florida and the surrounding states come to the park for the chance to see a wide range of bird species – some of which are seasonal migrants, with others residing there permanently.
Some of the best places to spot birds at the park are at the Spring Garden Run, the Nature Trail and at the Wild Persimmon Hiking Trail.
A full bird list can be obtained at the park. However, depending on the timing of your visit you can expect to see the likes of osprey, bald eagles and sandhill cranes.
Nature & Wildlife
The park is home to a diverse range of wildlife which can easily be viewed from the main walkway, especially in the months of spring.
At any time of the year you should be able to see the likes of alligators, manatees, turtles and otters.
You might even get to see wild hogs, deer, turkeys, bobcats and even the odd black bear too.
Pets at De Leon Springs State Park
Visitors are welcome to bring their pets with them to the park. However, they must be kept on a leash at all times.
Some other restrictions may also be in place. So you would be well advised to contact the park’s main office to ascertain what they are.
Camping at De Leon Springs State Park
Unfortunately there is nothing in the way of camping accommodation directly onsite at the park.
However, within a short driving distance of less than 30 minutes you will find several campgrounds you can stay at.
This includes the Blue Springs State Park Campground, River Forest Group Camping, Camp Winona Branch YMCA and Lake George State Forest campground.
Between them, these campgrounds provide a range of options to suit all preferences. These include RV and trailer sites that have full hookups, rustic cabins, primitive tenting areas and group campsites.
They also have several amenities for guests to take advantage of including flush toilets, warm showers, laundry, swimming pools, playgrounds, dump stations and camp stores.
De Leon Springs State Park
601 Ponce Deleon Blvd
De Leon Springs, FL 32130
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at De Leon Springs State Park: