There’s nothing that will get the blood pumping faster than rounding a creek bend in your kayak and surprising an alligator, but that’s exactly what happened to me on a recent trip to Alexander Creek and Spring near Ocala, Florida. I had embarked on this particular adventure with the hopes of seeing and even photographing an alligator; however, I hadn’t planned on such a close encounter so I quickly put some distance between the two of us and started taking pictures.
As a paddling destination, the spring run from Alexander Springs Recreation Area to the put-in at the County Road 445 bridge is relatively short, only about a mile in length, but it is teeming with wildlife. Moor hens, anhingas and cormorants are all common sights along Alexander Creek. During my recent visit I was fortunate enough to observe an osprey plucking a mullet from the crystal clear waters and carrying it up to its perch to dine upon.
In addition to bird watching, the clear, spring-fed water also provides ample opportunity for paddlers to observe large fish, turtles, otters and aquatic vegetation living beneath the surface. Along the banks is the best place to spot a basking turtle or alligator, but be sure to keep a safe distance from these toothy denizens.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling at Alexander Springs
The area surrounding the spring-head is maintained by Alexander Springs Recreation Area. This is a very popular park within Ocala National Forest and comes complete with campground, picnic pavilions, hiking trails, canoe rentals and concession stands. Paddlers with their own canoe or kayak can land and launch at the park for a $5.50 fee.
Alexander Springs is a first magnitude spring with a daily flow of over 70 million gallons. Visitors to the springs will enjoy snorkeling or swimming in the year-round 72º spring or catching some rays on the park’s small sand beach. Scuba diving is also permitted within Alexander Springs for an additional $6.50 fee; however, divers must first show valid proof of certification in order to do so.
Nearby Ocala Destinations
While in the Ocala area be sure to check out Silver River and Springs. This is another first-rate paddling destination of unparalleled beauty that you won’t want to miss. In addition to alligators and otters, visitors may even catch a glimpse of the non-native Rhesus Macaques that escaped into the surrounding area in the early 1930s. Nearby Juniper Creek, Salt Springs Run and Oklawaha River makes the Ocala area the perfect paddling destination.
This article is copyrighted by Beverly Hill