Experiences & Amenities
The park is on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. Wading birds are almost always present in Spring Garden Run. Walk the Nature Trail or the Wild Persimmon Hiking Trail to see other species. Bald eagles nest in nearby Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge and can sometimes be seen fishing in Spring Garden Run.
- A bird list is available at the park.
Enjoy a 50-minute eco/history boat tour on Spring Garden Run aboard the M/V Acuera. You may see a variety of wildlife and learn about the area's rich history.
Visitors on the restaurant waiting list are encouraged to enjoy a boat tour and you won’t lose your place on the waiting list!
- A minimum of eight passengers is required for a tour.
- The tour boat is wheelchair accessible with parking nearby.
- Call Captain Frank at (386) 837-5537 or view tours for more information.
Spring Garden Run starts at the park and connects with the St. Johns River, a distance of about 10 miles. Boaters are advised that there are manatee zones between the park and Lake Woodruff. Jet skis are not recommended because of the shallow water in Spring Garden Lake and the presence of canoes, kayaks and people fishing in the area.
De Leon Springs State Park provides access to Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, where canoeists can explore 22,000 acres of lakes, creeks, and marshes. Canoe and kayak rentals are available in the park throughout the year. The park is next to Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge is easily accessed by water and provides excellent birding and fishing opportunities.
Canoes and kayaks are available by the hour and a half day (four hours). As there is limited road access into the refuge, all rentals return to their point of departure at the park.
- All rentals must return to the dock by 4:30 p.m. and are available on a first-come, first served basis.
- Renters must be 18 years old or accompanied by a parent or guardian.
- A drivers license is necessary as deposit.
In order to participate in this program, one:
- Must have the ability to follow verbal and/or visual instructions for the duration of the rental.
- Must have the ability to return the craft to the dock after rental, independently or with the assistance of a companion.
- Must have the ability to put on and wear a properly fitted personal flotation device.
- Must have the ability to board and disembark from the vessel independently or with the assistance of a companion via a sloped ramp.
- Must have the ability to right oneself and remain face up in the water with the aid of a personal flotation device, in the event of capsizing.
- Must have the ability to withstand exposure to the outside temperatures ranging from 40 to 90 degrees, for the duration of the rental.
Fishing is permitted in Spring Garden Run and from the fishing pier; snatch hooks and castnets are prohibited from park property. A freshwater fishing license is required as applicable and all freshwater fishing laws apply. Bow fishing is not permitted in the Spring Run between 8 a.m. and sundown because of the presence of canoes, paddleboats and kayaks.
- All fishing within the park must conform to regulations concerning size, number, method of capture and season. More information is available at the Florida Wildlife Commission’s Fishing in Florida.
- No cast netting permitted from park property.
De Leon Springs State Park offers a half-mile paved nature trail, with interpretive signs, that is wheelchair accessible. This trail passes through a flood plain forest with cypress, hardwoods and other plants native to this area, including a cypress tree that is more than 600 years old. An all-terrain wheelchair is available from the park; inquire at the ranger station.
The Wild Persimmon Hiking Trail, a four-mile loop, will lead you through several natural communities. Deer, turkeys, wild hogs and Florida black bears are sometimes seen.
Parts of the trail can flood during wet seasons and biting insects are common, so appropriate clothing and footwear are recommended, along with insect repellent and drinking water. Hikers must register at the ranger station.
Picnic tables and grills are available on a first-come, first-served basis in the shade of large live oaks. All picnic pavilions are on accessible routes.
- Alcoholic beverages are not permitted in any area of the park.
- Trash cans and recycling containers are nearby.
Only instructional diving is permitted, taught by a certified and insured instructor, holding a current Florida State Parks' dive permit.
- Recreational diving is not allowed. Free-diving into the spring cave is not permitted.
- All artifacts in the spring are protected by state law and must not be disturbed or collected.
- The use of metal detectors, magnetometers, or other metal detecting devices is prohibited in the park.
Snorkeling is permitted in the swimming area only and not in the Spring Run due to boats and alligators. All artifacts in the spring are protected by state law and must not be disturbed or collected. The use of metal detectors, magnetometers, or other metal detecting devices is prohibited in the park.
- Free-diving into the spring cave is prohibited.
Swimming is permitted from 8 a.m. until one-half hour before sunset (park closing). The swimming area is a constant 72 degrees and depths range from 18 inches to 30 feet at the spring boil. Children and non-swimmers should be accompanied by an adult swimmer at all times and should remain in the roped off areas. The swimming area is approximately 500 feet in circumference; swimming nine laps around the pool would be about a mile.
- NO LIFEGUARDS ON DUTY - SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK YEAR ROUND.
- No swimming is permitted in Spring Garden Run.
- Pets are not allowed in the sunbathing area.
- The swimming area will be closed when lightning is detected within six miles.
- Individual size flotation devices (floats & rafts) are allowed in the swimming area, however, flotation devices cannot exceed 5 feet long by 5 feet wide.
Wildlife is plentiful and can be easily observed from the walkway across the spring. Otters, alligators, manatees, osprey, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, and even a swimming black bear have been spotted! Look for turtles sticking their heads above water in the Spring Run and watch the entertaining jumping mullet. Surprises on the Nature Trail and Wild Persimmon Hiking Trail have included bear, wild hogs, turkeys, deer and bobcats!
- Swimmer Chair Lift and Stairs with Handrails into Swimming Area
- All-Terrain and Standard Wheelchairs
- Paved Nature Trail
- Video with Open Captioning and Tactile Exhibits in Visitor Center
- Picnic Pavilions, Tables and Grills
- Boat Tour
- Fishing Pier
- Sidewalks and Boardwalks to All Facilities
- Accessible Parking near all Facilities
Exhibits feature the park's 6,000-year history starting with the Native American inhabitants called the Mayaca through the 1960s attractions era. Don't miss the home movie (open captioned) of the water skiing elephant! A touch table with bones and shells, park photo albums, printed information, and a children's area ensure there is something for everyone.
- The visitor's center is open daily; hours vary.
Playground equipment with slides and climbing features is centrally located near the picnic area, swimming area, restaurant and restrooms. Please make sure that children are supervised by an adult at all times. The playground is on an accessible route.
Restrooms are conveniently located near all park facilities. Restrooms, sidewalks, and boardwalks are wheelchair accessible.
- Lockers are not available.
- An outside shower is provided behind the main restroom.
Starting with the structures at the park entrance dating back to the 1950s attractions era-billboard with advertisement, concrete walls, gate houses, iron gates, and the building with the Florida map mural that is now the ranger station, much of what you see here shows historic human activity.
Shell mounds underlie many of the park's structures from thousands of years of native people inhabiting the area. The residence near the spring is constructed on one of the mounds.
The plantation era, when enslaved Africans were forced to work, is represented by the remains of the sugar-making operation, brickwork from the boiling kettles, mill machinery and kettles, and the original mill wheel hub are located behind the restaurant.
In the early 1900s, the restaurant building was constructed on the foundation of the 1830s mill. The large chimney dates back to the mid-1800s. Another vestige of the attractions era remains near the restaurant--the Fountain of Youth. Although not flowing, an interpretive sign describes its function. And as you are leaving, stop near the ranger station to look at the early 1900s horse-drawn road grader that park staff found in the woods here.
While enjoying the park, remember that you are walking in the footsteps of history!
Interpretive signs and kiosks are located throughout the park. Topics include Spring Garden Plantation, the attractions era, animals, plants, Florida's springs and a 1900 horse-drawn road grader. Also, visit the butterfly garden, near the main parking lot. Seasonally, heritage crops grown by Indians and plantation owners are planted behind the Sugar Mill Restaurant.
De Leon Springs State Park has four pavilions for rent - two large pavilions (with electric) that seat 50 - 60 people and two smaller pavilions (without electric) that seat 40 - 50 people. Each pavilion has a large grill and water. Fees for pavilions do not include park entry fees or any special use fees. These pavilions are available by fee only and can be reserved, except during the summer months (Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend). They can be rented, but only first-come, first-served. One additional free pavilion is provided first-come, first-served.
- Alcoholic beverages are not permitted in any area of the park.
- Please contact the park for information and reservations.
A boat ramp and dock are offered at no additional charge and are available during park operating hours from 8 a.m. to sunset. Boats up to 20' may be launched depending on water levels of Spring Garden Run.