Native Americans visited and used these springs as long as 6,000 years ago. In the early 1800s, settlers built sugar and cotton plantations that were sacked by Seminole Indians during the Second Seminole War. By the 1880s the springs had become a winter resort, and tourists were promised "a fountain of youth impregnated with a deliciously healthy combination of soda and sulphur." The swimming area is adjacent to a beautiful, shady picnic ground. Canoe, kayak and paddleboat rentals are available for a paddling tour of the spring and spring run. De Leon Springs flows into the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge where canoeists and kayakers can explore 18,000 acres of lakes, creeks and marshes. At The Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant, guests can make their own pancakes at the table. 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.
Went in early March 2016 and didn't experience the severe flooding other reviewers noted. The trail does cross standing water occasionally but there were wooden platforms in place to keep you out of it. Trailhead warns a 3 hour hike, but only took 2 at a leisurely pace with lots of gawking. Kind of your typical Florida hike with swampy scrub hammock and pine flatwoods. Lots of birds including (horned?) owl, woodpeckers and kite-tails
It was a great trail! We managed to see a pack of Sea Otters, an Alligator, and lots of birds! The trail was nice and open! One thing to mention is the site directions were totally off. The actual address to the site is 2045 Mud Lake Rd. De Leon Springs. We used the directions on the app and it took us about 10-15 mins off point to a residential part. Other than that one technical error the day was great and relaxing!! The observation tower was really nice and useful!
Nice wide trail, grassy surface. Tons of wildlife. We saw birds, alligators, armadillos, and snakes. Wear long pants and bugspray because the grass on the trail gets tall in some spots. Theres a nice observation platform and riverbank to take in views.
The trail warns a 2-3 hour hike, and tells you to check in at the ranger station. My hiking group is rather experienced and actually laughed at the thought that a 4-5 mile hike would take 3 hours, so off we went. In another season, we would've been right. However after a long series of storms earlier in the week about 40% of the trail was flooded. At times the water was thigh deep, and the bugs were horrendous. The trail markers on trees have fallen over at some points leaving you to find the next closest marker or circle for a few minutes trying. Once we got through the worst of it, we made it to the grassy path area (usually mowed in the spring). Not even 100ft into the grassy path we encountered a Cotton Mouth directly in the middle of the path. We were able to use a y shaped stick to hold it down as we passed around it (because no one wanted to turn back and be thigh deep in water after seeing that). We finished the loop and followed the path back out. 2 and a half hours after strutting confidently down the trail head we emerged covered in mud, covered in insect bites, feet cut up and full of thorns, down one pair of shoes lost to the mud, and really wishing that the Sugar Mill was still open so we could go eat our weight in those delicious pancakes.