After our four hectic days in Daytona we enjoyed a relaxing week at Silver Springs State Park. Up until the last day the weather was perfect for getting out and exploring the park.
There are two entrances to the state park. The main entrance (also called the historic entrance), on highway 40, is the location of the world famous glass bottom boat tours, a boardwalk trail, kayak and canoe launch and rental, a restaurant, meeting rooms, and paved trails on the beautifully landscaped grounds. The other entrance, on highway 35, leads to the campground, several hiking and biking trails, a day use area, The Silver River Museum, and a cracker village.
A trailhead next to the Silver River Museum is the starting place for the swamp trail and the river trail. We chose to explore the swamp trail first. This two mile loop trail took us through a lush tropical forest before crossing a boardwalk over the swamp. At the end of the trail is an overlook on the Silver River.
Another day we walked on the river trail to a different overlook on the Silver River. We returned by way of the river field loop which meanders along the Silver River before meeting back up with the main trail.
We chose to drive to the main entrance instead of taking the 2 1/2 mile walking and biking trail. From the Ross Allen Boardwalk Trail we could watch the kayakers paddling out to Silver River. From the paved paths beside the springs we were able to look down into the crystal clear water. We continued along the path next to the river and stopped at another overlook before following the path beside gardens blooming with azaleas.
One day we drove about 30 minutes to Juniper Springs Recreation Area for a swim and a picnic. Swimming in the 72 degree water was a great way to cool off on a warm day.
Relaxing at the campsite one day, we spied this gopher tortoise munching on the grass.
On Saturday morning, the Friends of Silver River State Park had a pancake breakfast to raise funds for their organization. After breakfast we took a tour of the cracker village, a replica of a 19th century settlement, and the Silver River Museum. The term “cracker” refers to the people who settled in Florida.
The Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center is a program of Marion County Public Schools. During the week, the museum is closed to the public while school children are attending classes. On some weekends, the museum is open to the public. The well done exhibits cover the history of the area from prehistoric days to the present.
We had planned to rent a canoe and paddle on the Silver River on our last day but we changed our plans when cold weather moved in. On our visit last year we took a glass bottom boat tour so we decided to skip it this year.
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