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Latest update: April 2012

Blue Spring and St. John's River... Paddling with Manatees

Blue Spring, at Blue Spring State Park near Deland, Florida, feeds Blue Spring Run to the St. John's River. The spring run is a designated manatee refuge and is closed during the winter months. During cold weather, over 300 manatee have been counted in the short run. The river on either side of the run is designated as a "No Wake Zone," making the area great for kayaking and canoeing.  (Detailed map and photos below.)

paddle Blue Springs, St. Johns River, kayak, canoe

Distance: Varies. The spring run itself is less than a half mile; 3.5 miles to Hontoon Island. Oxbow and Snake Creek are options.
Location: Volusia County (Orange City)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Tidal: No
Launch points: French Avenue boat ramp, Blue Spring State Park (admission fee). (See map)
Nearby points of interest: City of Deland, Stetson University

Blue Spring Run / St. John's River... Comments and Photos

The river is popular for fishing, paddling, and boating. Several oxbows and creeks off the river are a respite from the motorboat traffic on the river.

From Blue Spring Park, paddle the St. John's to Hontoon Island (3.5 miles), then up Snake Creek and return to Blue Spring for a 10-mile round-trip. Hontoon Island is accessible by boat or ferry only, activities include camping, boating, bicycling, and picnicking.

St. John's River - French Avenue Launch to Blue Spring Run

On the St. John's, many motorboats but "No Wake Zone" here makes for good paddling. French Avenue launch has parking, a boat ramp, and kayak/canoe launch area.

Blue Spring Run

The spring run is a short (less than a half mile) paddle, but a must-visit for the manatees and other wildlife, as well as for its beauty. The Run is closed to all vessels during the winter manatee season, November 15 - March 1. When the run is open, the section past the swimming area to the springhead can be paddled before 11 a.m. and after 5 p.m. The springhead area is popular for snorkeling, swimming, tubing. Swimming or diving near manatees is prohibited.

St. John's River - Blue Spring Run Area

Rentals and a river cruise are located at the park entrance. The Lagoon is a quiet paddling area just past the dock area. Continuing downriver, turn off at the oxbow to avoid the busy motor or traffic on the river.

Oxbow off the River

This "oxbow" is about 1/4 mile south of Blue Spring Run. Two side creeks run off this area, one is a manmade canal, the other is Snake Creek that winds up to Hontoon Island.

Wildlife on the St. John's and Blue Spring Run

The Run is like a giant aquarium, easy to see everything in the crystal clear water. Fishing isn't allowed on the Run. During the winter season, visit the State Park and view manatees from the Boardwalk.



Blue Spring State Park

Blue Spring State Park has a concession plus camping, cabins, picnicking, swimming, snorkeling, boardwalk, hiking, fishing, boating, and of course paddling. River boat tours are available. The Thursby House dates from 1872, built by Louis Thursby who constructed one of the first steamboat landings on the upper St. Johns River here. The family lived here until 1910, the property was acquired by the State in 1972.


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