Rock Springs Run is a natural gem located just outside of Apopka FL. This pristine waterway winds its way through the rolling hills and forests of northwest Orange County, offering visitors a chance to explore a unique ecosystem that’s home to an incredible array of wildlife.
Read more as we’ll take a closer look at what you need to know about this state reserve, including its history, geography, and recreational opportunities.
The area around this reserve has been inhabited for thousands of years by various Native American tribes. The Timucua people were among the first to call this region home, followed later by the Seminoles.
In the early 19th century, European settlers began moving into the area and establishing homesteads along the banks of this reserve. These settlers relied on the river for transportation and as a source of freshwater for their crops and livestock.
In more recent times, efforts have been made to preserve the natural beauty of this reserve and its surrounding areas. In 1983, it was designated as a “Florida Outstanding Waterway” due to its ecological significance.
The state reserve is formed by several springs that emerge from underground aquifers in the Wekiwa Springs State Park area. The crystal-clear water flows southward for approximately eight miles before emptying into Lake Apopka.
Along the way, it passes through dense forests of oak trees and palmettos, as well as open savannas dotted with wildflowers. The river itself varies in width from narrow channels lined with overhanging trees to wide expanses where you can paddle or swim in relative solitude.
The water temperature remains around 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round thanks to the constant flow from the springs. This makes it an ideal spot for swimming or tubing even during hot summer months.
As for recreational opportunities, there are many ways to enjoy this place depending on your interests:
Paddling – Kayaking or canoeing down the reserve is one of the most popular activities in the area. There are several outfitters nearby that offer rentals if you don’t have your own equipment.
If you’re looking for a leisurely paddle with plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing, consider taking one of several guided tours offered by local companies. These tours typically last two hours and cover around three miles downstream from Kelly Park.
For those seeking more adventure or challenge, there are also longer trips available that can take you all the way downriver to Wekiva Island (a distance of approximately 16 miles).
Swimming & Tubing – Swimming is another popular activity at the reserve due to its clear waters and consistent temperatures. There are several designated swimming areas along the river where visitors can cool off on hot days.
Tubing is also very popular especially during summers when temperatures soar. Several local outfitters rent tubes so that visitors can float downriver without having to worry about carrying their own gear.
Hiking & Biking – The land surrounding the reserve offers numerous opportunities for hiking, biking, or horseback riding. The Wekiwa State Park features over 13 miles of trails that wind through pine forests, oak hammocks, and prairies.
There are also several mountain biking trails in proximity which offer varying levels of difficulty depending on your skills.
Wildlife Viewing – One of the main draws of visiting Rock Spring Runs is being able to observe wildlife such as alligators, turtles, manatees, birds, etc. up close. Visitors can see these animals while paddling, swimming, or walking along trailheads.
As mentioned earlier, efforts have been made in recent years protect preserve the natural beauty surrounding this place. Some steps taken include:
- Regular cleanups: Volunteers regularly participate in clean up events which help remove trash and debris.
- Water quality monitoring: Regular testing ensures that pollutants aren’t entering the river.
- Land acquisition: Through state grants private lands surrounding the river have been acquired ensuring they remain undeveloped.
- Protection measures: Local government has put regulations in place to limit development within the immediate vicinity thus reducing the effects of pollution, noise, etc.
The state reserve is a fantastic place to visit throughout the year. While it tends to be most popular during the summer months, there are plenty of activities and sights to enjoy no matter what time of year you choose to visit.
The spring months are especially nice at this place as the local flora and fauna come alive and the temperatures are mild but comfortable. There is an abundance of wildlife to be seen along the run. The spring-fed waters of the run stay cool throughout much of the year and create a serene atmosphere for visitors.
Whether you’re interested in paddling downriver, spotting wildlife, swimming, or just enjoying scenic views while hiking, Rock Spring Runs in Apopka FL offers something for everyone. With its crystal-clear waters, dense forests, and diverse ecosystems, it’s easy to see why this natural wonderland attracts visitors from faraway places.
But remember, conservation efforts must be continued so future generations enjoy the same beauty we witness today. Click for more.