Blue Spring State Park covers more than 2,600 acres including the largest spring on the St. Johns River. Blue Spring is a designated Manatee Refuge and the winter home to a growing population of West Indian Manatees. The spring and spring run are closed during Manatee season, mid-November through March; swimming or diving with manatees is not permitted; this rule is strictly enforced. For centuries, the spring area was home to Native Americans. In 1766 it was visited by Colonial American botanist John Bartram, but it was not until 1856 that it was settled by Louis Thursby and his family. The Thursby house, built in 1872, remains standing. The springs crystal clear, 73 degree water can be enjoyed by swimmers, snorkelers, and certified scuba divers with a partner. The river is popular for fishing, canoeing, and boating. River boat tours are available; for reservations, call St. Johns River Cruises at (386) 917-0724. The park has plenty of picnic areas and a hiking trail. For overnight stays, air-conditioned cabins, a full-facility campground and primitive campsites are available. This is a very popular park on weekends. To ensure entrance into the park, we recommend arriving early, otherwise, the parking area will be full and you may not be able to enter.
Nice trail. Longer than a lot that you find in FL although it is an out-and-back which no one loves. Trail is mostly loose sand or leaf covered sand but its very wide so no fear of anything in the bushes surprising your ankles. My wife and I saw a number of armadillos and a whole family of Florida Scrub Jay (which is a highly endangered bird found on in FL). Nicely changes ecosystems throughout the hike but I would NOT do this in summer as other reviewers have pointed out.
This trail is recommended for winter months. It is much too hot in the summer and is full of mosquitos. We went in December and the temperature was nice still some mosquitos in the evening. First short portion is forest, then it opens up to a scrub lowland area and the trail turns into a sandy/dirt utility road. Arrows will direct you in the right direction. There are picnic benches to relax along the way. After a while of open, the trail leads you back in the cover of the trees. The bugs didn't get too bad till around dusk. We saw a couple armadillos, a family of wild boars, and a deer. It was a nice trail but nothing spectacular, the wildlife was a perk. From start to finish it took about 3 hours to complete. Make sure to bring plenty of water, pack a lunch, wear a hat, and bring bug repellent.
Sara M. on Pine Island Trail
First half mile is nice, trails through a pine swamp. Then miles of sugar sand on an access road. Did see a few scrub jays.
Really nice park, but can get very congested on the weekends during the winter months when the manatees are in the spring. We've stayed here in a 42' fifth wheel camper, so it can get a bit tight for a rig our size. Not the actual sites them self, but the tightness of backing into. If you like to kayak, you can launch into the river right there at the park. If you like to bike ride, the Spring-to-Spring trail is right across the street.
In the winter, the manatee viewing is phenomenal. I must have seen a hundred of them. The boardwalk is well maintained, also. I wish I would have opted to rent a kayak. Beware, they don't list on the website but you cannot walk your dogs to the boil at the end of the boardwalk, which is a shame. The Pine Island trail is going through conservation efforts and a lot of it is deforested which is also a bummer.
Beautiful place with lots to see. The trail follows the spring where in winter months you can see manatee, alligators and garr. Beautifully maintained grounds and home from original owner. The bathrooms are clean, nice playground and shaded picnic areas. They have affordable cabins and camping and access to the river. Our family had a blast:)
My last visit was January 2012 I drove through the camp ground to evaluate it for camping later. Fair sized lots and good shade. I hiked along the short boardwalk that to see the Manatee. There were plenty as well as huge Tarpon as well as well as Wild Turkey. i;ii return!
Nice stretch of river to paddle the entire day. You will see manatees and in the blue spring portion of creek there are huge tarpons that you can not fish :(. during the winter you can not swim in the spring water however the rest of the year is open.
The spring is impressive, really beautiful and clear water in white sand.