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Reported: Nov. 2011; updated: Nov. 2015, Jan. 2017

Alexander Springs Run... Paddling in the Ocala National Forest

Alexander Springs is a first-magnitude spring that feeds Alexander Creek. The run is usually open and is an easy trip. The first 5 miles is a broad, slow-moving stream. The central section is a more narrow, winding stream and then the stream becomes broad and slow moving again before flowing into the St. Johns River. The paddling trail runs from the Alexander Springs Recreation Area to the FR52 Landing, a distance of about 6.5 miles. Paddling the last section through to the St. John's River is for experienced paddlers only; the channel may be hard to follow, there are no take-outs, and once on the St. John's, it's almost 7 miles to the nearest marina. (Detailed map and photos below.)



View Larger Map
Distance: 6.5 miles to 52 Landing (FR18/552); 14 miles to the St. John's River
Location: Lake County (Altoona), Ocala National Forest
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Tidal: No
Launch points: CR 445 bridge, 52 Landing (at FR18/552), Alexander Springs Recreation Area (fee-based) (See map, left)
Kayak/Canoe Rentals: At the recreation area (link, above right)
Nearby points of interest: Ocala National Forest

Diverse wildlife seen along the run including birds, fish, deer, otters, raccoons, turtles, bears and of course alligators. Alexander Springs Recreational Area is a popular destination with camping, picnicking, snorkeling, a boardwalk, and hiking - this is the only area in the Ocala National Forest where scuba diving is permitted. Two segments of the Florida National Scenic Trail run through the area. Canoe and kayak rentals are available. There is no shuttle service between landings, so for most visitors this is an out and back paddle.

The Alexander Wilderness Area lies between Alexander Springs and Lake Dexter. There are no trails or roads, the only access is by boat (kayak, canoe).

Paddling at Alexander Springs Run
(tap or hover over photo for larger view)
Launch from Alexander Springs Recreation Area
Unlike nearby Juniper Springs, Alexander Springs immediately opens up into a wide, slow-flowing run. And unlike Juniper (one way), this is usually paddled as a far less challenging
out-and-back, where time and distance are determined by one's individual preference. (Updated: Jan. 2017)
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Ramp to launch, carts are provided Rentals canoes, kayaks, paddleboards At the launch Along the creek
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We explored a little side creek, but couldn't get far Bridge at
CR 445. Motor boats not allowed upstream of the bridge.
CR 445 bridge launch, from the creek Along the creek
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We explored another little side creek, didn't get far here either Returning to the launch, spring area
is blocked off
Alexander Spring swimming/picnic area Alexander Spring Parking and concession area
Launch at CR445 bridge
No fee, just outside State Park (Trip report: Nov. 2015)
Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe
Sprng Run from CR445 bridge Launch seen
from the bridge
Access from
road to launch
Launch Bridge from
the launch
Launch at 52 Landing
Some maps show the access road as FR18 and some as FR552, at the turn-off from
CR445 it says FR18. From here, we paddled upstream toward the Recreation Area
and then downstream a couple of miles below the landing toward the St. John's.
This is an easy launch, with a slightly elevated concrete ramp (occasional fisherman
with small motor boat), shallow sand bottom, and well shaded. However, this is a
remote area. Do not leave valuables in vehicle. (Trip report: Nov. 2015)
Upstream from 52 Landing, toward Recreation Area
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The forest access road, about 4.5 miles from CR445 to launch Launch is easy on and off Heading upstream
Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe
Turtle Leaving the forest, the run opens up -
winding through grassy flats
The "stop" sign was eye-catching,
but this take-out is no longer used -
proceed to 52 Landing
Downstream from 52 Landing, toward St. John's River
Paddling through floodplain forest with little canopy and no beaches to pull off. About 1.7 miles downstream is a bluff with an old launch where it's possible to stop off to stretch.
Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe
Leaving 52 Landing Along the run - some obstacles to navigate Some homes in this area
Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe
Along the run Pull off at bluff Returning to
52 Landing
Wildlife
Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe Alexander Springs Run, kayak, canoeAlexander Springs Run, kayak, canoe
Alligator Otters Turtles Anhinga Heron

More information on paddling at Alexander Spring Run (links open in a new window):

- USDA Forest Service - Alexander Run
- USDA Forest Service - Alexander Springs
- Lake County - Alexander Springs Recreation Area

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Alexander Spring Run

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Alexander Springs Recreation Area


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