Blue Spring State Park

2100 West French Ave., Orange City, 32763
(386) 775-3663
8am to sunset

manatee

This trail site is best known for the 200 West Indian Manatees that overwinter in its first magnitude warm water springs, but the habitats on the surrounding lands are excellent for birding, too. More than 150 bird species have been recorded in the park. To better protect the manatees, the spring and spring run are closed to swimming, boating and other water-related activities from November 15 through March 1. Walk the spring run boardwalk looking for roosting Barred Owls and migrating wood-warblers in the oaks; you can also see large shoals of Florida Gar and a variety of turtles. To see Florida Scrub-Jays, Hairy Woodpeckers and Bachman’s Sparrows go for a hike along the Pine Island Trail, which leads southeast from the last parking area and winds for 4 miles through sand pine scrub, pine flatwoods and freshwater marsh. This trail is also good for songbird migrants in spring and fall. The park can be busy on warm weather weekends with swimmers, and during the winter when the manatees are loafing in the warm water spring; be aware that the park has to turn away visitors when the parking lots are full so plan on getting there early. Guided tours are available for groups and a park concessionaire offers boat tours on the St. Johns River; call ahead for details.

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