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Latest update: Jan. 2017

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

Alexander Springs is a first-magnitude spring that feeds Alexander Creek ("Spring Creek" on the Google map). The paddling trail runs from the Alexander Springs Recreation Area to the FR52 Landing, a distance of about 6.5 miles. Unlike nearby Juniper Springs, Alexander Springs immediately opens up into a wide, slow-flowing run. There is no regular shuttle service between landings, so for most visitors this is an out and back paddle. Canoe and kayak rentals are available. A few older (grandfathered in) houses on the south side of the run - the only ones seen along the trail - mark roughly the halfway point between the Alexander Springs and FR52 launches. (Detailed map and photos below.)

Alexander Run

Alexander Springs Paddling Map

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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)
Nearby points of interest: Ocala National Forest


Alexander Springs Recreation Area
(rentals, at concession stand)

Alexander Spring Run... Comments and Photos

The run is usually open and is an easy trip. The first 5 miles is a broad, slow-moving stream, with virtually no shade. The central section is a more narrow, winding stream with some shade. Then the stream becomes broad and slow moving again before flowing into the St. Johns River. 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.

Launch from Alexander Springs Recreation Area

The launch is down a (long) ramp from the staging area, carts are provided. Kayak, canoe, and paddleboard rentals are available. We paddled past the CR445 bridge and back -  as an out-and-back, time and distance will be determined by your individual preference. Some side creeks are off the run, we explored a couple of them but couldn't get far. (Trip report: Jan. 2017)

Alexander Springs Recreation Area

From the launch, access to the spring is blocked. The recreation area includes parking, restrooms, concession, swimming at the spring, camping, picnicking.

Launch at CR445 bridge

No fee, just outside State Park. Motor boats not allowed upstream of the bridge.

Launch at 52 Landing

From the turn-off at CR445, the access road runs about 4.5 miles to the launch. 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). Note: this is a remote area. Do not leave valuables in vehicle. (Trip report: Nov. 2015)


Upstream from 52 Landing, toward Recreation Area

Shallow sand bottom, and well shaded through the forest. Leaving the forest, the run opens up, winding through grassy flats.

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.


Diverse wildlife seen along the run including birds, fish, deer, otters, raccoons, turtles, bears and of course alligators.

About Alexander Springs Recreational Area

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. 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).


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