Hours: 8 am – sun down
Distance from downtown Orlando: 47 miles (55 min)
De Leon Springs State Park website
Cover Photo: @SeanpGrimm Instagram
De Leon Springs State Park is a big spring with 72 degree F clear fresh water perfect for snorkeling and swimming. The setting is not as natural as the other springs. The edges of the De Leon Spring have been concreted, providing broad stairs for access to the water. Consider it a cross between a public swimming pool and a natural spring.
Canoes, kayaks and paddle boats can be rented from the park’s concession. The paddling trail will take you through Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge – 22,000 acres of lakes, creeks and marshes to explore.
Hiking trails include the 4.2 mile Wild Persimmon Hiking Trail and the half mile paved Nature Trail through a flood plain forest with cypress and hardwoods, including a 600 year old cypress tree. Imagine that! While Joan of Arc was liberating Orleans, this tree was already at least twenty years old.
Wildlife here is prolific. De Leon Springs is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail. You’ll certainly see plenty of wading birds in the Spring Garden Run, and Bald eagles nest in Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge. A full bird list is available at the park. Wildlife that you might see includes otters, alligators, manatees, black bear, turtles, deer and jumping mullet.
Picnics are well catered for. Beneath the shade of old oak trees there are tables, grills and a playground for those wishing to have a picnic. You can also cook your own pancakes at the Sugar Mill Restaurant, in the old sugar mill.
Boat tours are offered four times a day through the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge. You’ll see wildlife such as water birds, alligators and tortoises on these tours and learn about the local history.
Fishing is excellent here. You’ll need a fresh water fishing license.