Alexander (Springs) River Trip Report

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Ted | VCKC
Published Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Date: 25 January 2005

Location: Alexander Springs, Ocala National Forest

Number of Paddlers: 37

Boats: 17 Rental Canoes, 1 private (single) canoe and 1 Private (2 person) kayak

Travel Time From Mulberry Recreation Center: Approximately 40 miles or 45 minutes traveling time. We traveled the route posted in the destination report and had no problems.

Trip Length: 7 miles or just about 3 hrs. Last group put in at 10AM and took out at about 1PM.

Boat Rentals:

Park Concessionaire 352.669.9166 only rented canoes (no kayaks). Their rental of $27.82 included tax and shuttle transportation (passengers and boats) from the Take-Out. They also required a $20 refundable (cash) deposit that was also charged to private boat owners , they claimed the National Forest Service (NFS) required that and would not waive it. In addition, the NFS charged a $4 per person entrance fee to the park. The rental canoes were comfortable and somewhat wider than normal, which made for a more stable paddle, however, the seats were molded into the boat and while comfortable did not allow for seat-backs which some of us brought with us. At the Take-Out, we called via cell phone at the Take-Out to arrange for pick-up. They normally had one van/boat trailer for the 15-minute shuttle back to the concessionaire but because of our group's size, they arranged to have 2 vans/trailers which worked efficiently at the end of the trip.

The concessionaire was very well prepared for our numbers and had all the required paperwork ready and organized for us. As a result, the delays we have experienced at some outfitters were minimized but it still took about 10 or so minutes for all to go through the line and pay.

Air Temperature and Weather Conditions:

It was a beautiful fall-like day on the river. While it was coolish when we left Mulberry Rec Center at 8:15 AM, it was probably in the low 50's when we started the paddle at 10ish and rose to the low/mid 60s by the mid-way point. We enjoyed clear blue skies and a slight breezed that was in our travel direction. All felt it was a very pleasant and comfortable day to be on the water.

The River and Terrain:

Alexander Springs is a First Magnitude freshwater springs that gushes out approximately 70 million gallons of 72 degree crystal clear water daily. The springs form a river, I find no reference to it being classified a river, that journeys through the Alexander Springs Wilderness area, part of the Ocala National Forest. Just past where our Take-Out, the “river” becomes a much narrower creek that empties into Lake Woodruff.

We found the river to be a very pleasant, calm and quite with little signs of civilization. It was wider than I expected but not overly so. The river runs relatively straight with many small islands some paths around the islands, especially those near shore were blocked by downfall (remains of our storms) which caused in some cases, paddlers to reverse course. My wife and I were able to find paths but, in fairness to others, we kind of enjoy bending and ducking through the challenging paths. We saw no cleared designated areas to pull into for rest stop, we did stop at one small area but I discovered that the ground under my foot was not as solid as it appeared and got a little wet.

Because of the width of the river, we were pretty much in the open but were constantly surrounded by the wilderness of the forest - I think we all became mentally lost in the serenity of the river. I say that, because the end of our 7 mile journey came much too quickly and many would have liked to have spent another hour or so paddling the Alexander.

I understand that some of our group stayed at the Park after the paddle and may have gone swimming at the beach by the spring-head and I should mention that paddling to the spring-head is not permitted.

Wildlife Sightings:

Prior to the trip, I was advised to expect increased alligator and snake activity, we saw neither. We did pass an otter that looked at us for a while, some bird life and some turtles. The early morning temperature was probably at freezing which may have kept the critters deep within their homes.

Group Enjoyment and Difficulty Rating:

This paddle ended too quickly. I heard many favorable comments about this river and that the trip didn't seem to be 7 miles (which I agreed with and confirmed before I left the park). This was not a difficult nor technical paddle and there were no incidents. This is certainly a paddle to keep in mind if looking for a nice and not too far away day trip with visiting guests. I almost forgot to mention that a reporter from Lake Magazine joined us on our trip, his reporter stayed at the Put-In and took pictures there, his article will appear in the March 2005 edition - so keep your eyes open.


Last update Thursday, April 10, 2008

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