Rock Springs Run Canoe and Kayak Trip
Group size: 1 – 24 paddlers
Trip time: 4.5 – 5 hours
Skill level: Intermediate. The relatively long paddle will be exhausting for some. The winding stream makes this a steering challenge for first-timers.
Cost: $50 per person ($39 for “wanna go” members). With your own boat it’s $40 ($29 for members).
Most guided tours are $50 per person. (includes boat, paddle, vest, shuttling and your guide)
Using your Own Boat – $40. (many paddlers with their own boats like to join us to learn more about the history, archaeology and natural history of these rivers).
Join a scheduled tour (see tour calendar ), or suggest one. Find a free date on the calendar and suggest the trip of your choice. If there are no conflicts, we’ll post it!
Schedule a private tour. Use contact form, email us at [email protected] or call (386-454-0611)
Check the River Locator Map or Click the link below for a local map and then use zoom and panning arrows to explore the area. (Note: the marker is NOT our meeting place, but a nearby landmark.Local Map
From the moment it springs to life, gushing from the throat of a horizontal, above water-line cavern at the base of a 20 ft. limestone bluff, to it’s confluence with Wekiva River 7 miles later, it’s apparent that Rock Springs Run is like no other. But, if I had to make a comparison, I’d say it most closely resembles Juniper. Like Juniper Run, this stream’s cool, clear flow meanders through a lush, semi-tropical forest of cabbage palm, cypress, maple and other bottomland species that don’t mind having there feet wet once in a while. In many sections, the towering over-story provides a loosely closed canopy allowing just enough light for photography while blocking out mid-day heat. Intermittent areas of open sunshine spawn dense, lush groves of showy aquatic plants that provide home and groceries for myriad wildlings. Ranked a second magnitude spring, the flow of Rock Springs Run is comparable to that at the lower end of Juniper Spring Run, ranging from about 50 – 80 cu.ft./ second. And, the comparison doesn’t stop there. Both of these little streams are born amid the the gently rolling highlands that run down the spine of central Florida, and descend into the ancient coastline and near-shore lagoon that is now St. Johns River. For Rock Spring Run and it’s distributary, the Wekiva River, this descent in elevation is one of the most abrupt of any Florida waterway – a whopping 1.6 ft. per mile.
Near the end of our trip, we enter into the Wekiva River. From here, we’ll make a short side excursion upstream to the Wekiwa Spring. And no, this isn’t a typo. The names of the river and the spring from which it flows, are spelled differently. If you look for an answer to this riddle, you’ll find there are many “answers” and theories, most of them relating to Indian vocabulary. My guess is that early maps of this river show a variety of spellings, just as they do for all of Florida’s other rivers. The only difference here is that no one ever agreed on which was correct. Instead, they simply allotted a “w” to the spring and gave “v” to the river. In the Wekiva, the flow increases considerably. However, it’s not nearly what it was only a few decades ago. This sad reality is just another of the not-so-subtle warnings that the Big Girl (momma nature) is sending us about the fragility of our water supply.
In the late 1800’s this stretch of the river saw the passing of a twice – weekly steam boat called the Mayflower, as she made her way to a landing called Clay Springs, at the Wekiwa spring head. Today, you might see an occasional little motor boat, but they are few and far between. Today, most of the river forest and adjacent uplands are protected under a group of preserves which together are referred to as the Wekiva Basin GeoPark. The stars of this fantastic area are the bears, 50 – 60 of whom enjoy this densely forested sanctuary. Keep a sharp lookout and you might spot some of the other wild many residents, including water birds, otters, deer, bobcat, wild hogs and water birds. Limpkins are especially prevalent, which says good things about the quality of water and integrity of the system (their favorite food, apple snails, don’t tolerate much pollution). A trained ear might hear yellow-billed cuckoo’s in the swamp forest or the honk of sandhill cranes feeding nearby.
River Lore: Prehistoric Indians made good use of Rock Springs Run and Wekiva River. Several large shell middens are perched alongside the banks of both. There has also been some reports of monkeys in the Wekiva Basin! Where they hail from has prompted a lot of head scratching on the part of their higher primate cousins. To date, none of our species finest have found the answer. A quick look at the map shows quite a bit of civilization (not to mention distance) between Silver River and here. For the record, we haven’t seen any monkeys on our Adventure Outpost explorations of this run, but you never know.
Thankfully, the comparisons to Juniper River don’t apply to difficulty. Rock Springs follows a less twisted route as it flows through the forest. The main consideration will be the duration of the trip, usually taking us 4.5 to 5 hours. There are several good spots to get out and take a break if necessary, including a nice lunch area.