E40. Ocala National Forest: Salt Springs
SiteID: E40 (E28 old)
Nearest City: Salt Springs
Phone Number: 352-685-3070
Amenities: Restrooms, Entrance fee required, Birding by boat, Birding by foot/hiking, Best time of day: Morning, Recommended length of visit: a few hours, Camping br>
Habitats: Freshwater Swamp, Pines, River/Stream/Spring/Canal, Scrub, Hardwoods/Mixed Forest
This site in the Ocala National Forest offers a 2-mile loop trail which leads through scrubby flatwoods down to a hardwood forest along the clear, cold, spring run. Enter at the Salt Springs Recreation Area (fee) for quick access to the water, or park and hike the Salt Springs Trail for free at the trailhead, located 1.25 miles south of the recreation area and campground. The trail is scrubby, so you’ll get some migrant songbirds in season. At the water’s edge, look for waders and Limpkins. A blue-blazed, 4-mile trail connects the recreation area with the orange-blazed Florida National Scenic Trail, which runs north/south for 66 miles through the Ocala National Forest. You can also paddle the Salt Springs Canoe Trail, which leads from the recreation area to Lake George, the second largest lake in Florida. Anytime you are driving in the national forest, watch for Florida Scrub-Jays perched on the wires when you’re passing their optimum habitat – scrub oak brush about 5 feet tall. Red-cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) trees are marked with white painted bands; clusters occur throughout the forest. For information on specific RCW sites, call the Forest office at (352) 625-2520. Salt Springs is a popular swimming location and gets quite busy, so birding is best in the mornings and on weekdays. Look for Juniper Hairstreak near the spring. Seasonal hunting occurs at this site; see page 127 for dates, regulations and more information.
Directions: Salt Springs is located on SR 19 approx. 0.6 mi. north of the intersection with CR 314 on the northeast side of the Ocala National Forest. The hiking trailhead is 1.25 mi. south of the Salt Springs Recreation Area, on the east side of SR 19.
Trail open all year, 24 hours/day. Recreation Area open 8 AM to 8 PM for day users. Visitor center open 9 AM to 5 PM, Wednesday to Sunday.