Visiting Florida's state parks and beyond in our Roadtrek. This is how we saw it all. Hopefully, the posts will give you some useful information. Questions and comments are welcome.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Weekend at Florida's Blue Spring State Park

This is a nice park year 'round, but the real attraction is during November to March.  This is a winter refuge for the West Indian manatee.  According to a ranger we spoke to they have counted as much as 354 wintering in the spring run.  The sad thing is the main way to identify a manatee is by the boat propeller scars on their back. 

The sites are hard packed sand, most of them very level, some not so and most have partial or full shade and privacy by way of Florida flora.

The loop is paved and hilly.  There were a few large rigs this weekend, but most sites are suited for smaller units. 

The bike/walk path leading from the campsite loop to the smaller of two visitor picnic areas and day visitor parking.  The park has a similar paved bike path 1.5 miles in length that parallels the railroad track just before you get to the park entrance.  

Part of the smaller of two picnic areas lies adjacent to the camp store, ranger's lecture hut and a courtyard. 

There is a larger picnic area where the spring run empties into the St. Johns River.  It has a closed pavilion, concession, playground equipment and fishing area along the river.  One can take a river cruise boat or rent canoes or kayaks.  

A courtyard is about midway along the boardwalk that takes you from the beginning of the run to the spring head.  

Heading from the courtyard to the spring head. 

Meandering boardwalk toward the spring head. 

Cut no trees. To the right of the tree is one of a few observation cutouts.  Beyond the tree and to the left the boardwalk goes to the spring where there is a dock from which swimmers and divers enter the spring.  Since the spring is a manatee refuge swimming, diving, and kayaking is prohibited from mid-November to March 15 to protect the manatees that winter here in the 72 degree spring water.

The boardwalk is well constructed and while the terrain altitude varies, the boardwalk is built pretty level.  Easy access for all. 

Blue Spring Run looking toward the spring head.

 Why we came to this state park.  The manatees are just beginning to arrive to the spring from the St. Johns River and beyond to winter in the warmer waters until Spring.

Mother and calf.

Forty four species of fish also inhabit the run.  Tarpon, gar, bowfin, mullet, bass and much more.  Fishing is not permitted in the run, but one can fish from the shore of the St. Johns River or a pier at the entrance of the run from the river. 

The spring head discharges more 104 million gallons of water into the St. Johns River daily. 

The Thursby House.  Built in 1872 on an Indian midden, it was an inn for the many steamboat tourists that frequented the spring. 

Most of the house is devoid of furnishings except for a cast iron pot belly stove of unique design to each room.  The kitchen area is the  most furnished to original appearance. 

On the weekend there is live entertainment on the veranda. 

For hikers there is a 4.5 mile trail through a thick hammock. 

The trail is not a loop, so the hiker is looking at a 9 mile hike with return trip.  Take water.  Watch for bears.  

If you don't have an RV or don't want to tent (remember, there are bears) there are some nice cabins to overnight in. 

More photos taken at the spring head.