This Ocala National Forest site 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 (entrance fee required) for quick access to the water, or park and hike the Salt Springs Trail for free at the trailhead, located a little over a mile south of the recreation area. The trail is scrubby, so there is a chance to see migrant songbirds such as Ovenbird and Yellow-throated Vireo in spring and fall. At the water’s edge, look for Limpkin and Green Heron. 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 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. Salt Springs is a popular swimming location and gets quite busy, so birding is best in the mornings and on weekdays. Butterfly viewing is very good at the spring; be on the lookout for ‘Sweadner’s’ Juniper Hairstreaks between March and May. Seasonal hunting occurs in the area; please click here for dates, regulations and more information.