Note: There may be some slight exaggeration to the Pterodactyl mosquito attack that happened during this particular visit.
Normally when I go out to review a location I do my best to sell it in a positive light, however, sometimes a place falls a bit short of expectations as is the case of Ponce de Leon Springs State Park located in Ponce de Leon, Florida.
My visit took place on an unseasonably warm day on the cusp of winter and spring. I arrived early and was greeted by a friendly staff member to whom I paid my $4 entry fee before proceeding to the parking area directly in front of the bathhouse. That’s right, visitors have the good fortune of a changing area. After moving through the bathhouse entryway, the park spreads out invitingly before you. There are multiple picnic tables (first come first served) and four pavilions which can be reserved in advance.
The spring itself, which is surrounded by a concrete and rock retaining wall, is credited with producing 14 million gallons of water per day. Two vents feed the swimming pool sized area which is both relatively shallow except in front of the concrete dive platform. The spring flows into a shallow spring run that first flows underneath a foot bridge & dam system before merging with Sandy Creek about 350 feet downstream. This destination is not suitable for kayaking.
The foot bridge leads visitors to Spring Run Trail. This short loop trail takes visitors along the spring run and Sandy Creek. The signage at the head of the trail purports that the trail takes about 30 minutes to complete. Let me be the first to say that it only takes about 5 minutes, especially when you are fending off a hoard of bloodthirsty Pterodactyl mosquitoes. These are not you average smack-it-and-die mosquitoes. No, these bad boys will drag you back to their lair never-to-be-seen-again! I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt & long pants and that did nothing to deter them. Whenever I would attempt to take a picture of something that I thought might be interesting my hands were covered in mosquitoes before I could even snap the shot.
I battled my way out of the Pterodactyl Den of Death and made my way back across the bridge to tackle the second trail, Sandy Creek Trail. This sign indicates a completion time of 45 minutes. I completed it just as quickly as the Spring Run Trail because the pterodactyls on that side of the creek radioed ahead to the pterodactyls on this side of the creek so they’d be ready for the silly warm-blooded human hors d’oeuvres. This is also where I discovered that pterodactyls are particularly clever. They placed a bench overlooking the creek at a particularly scenic point encouraging potential meals to sit down for a spell and drink in the beauty of nature. Don’t do it— it’s a trap!
Once again I managed to escape and staggered out of the woods. I thought I’d try to take a picture of a native Flame Azalea but the pterodactyls followed me and I ran for the car, where oddly enough I still hade to slap furiously for a minute once inside the car because several of the bloodsuckers dove into the car with me. I was finally able to examine one of the corpses and seriously, these things are huge! These aren’t you’re average backyard mosquitoes.
In short, Ponce de Leon Springs might be good for a dip in the sweltering heat of summer when its sure to be crowded with others looking for a way to cool off, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get there. If you do decide that you must visit be sure to bring plenty of bug spray.
[amazon_enhanced asin=”B000052YHI” /]