Silver River Nature Park Kayaking from Head Spring

Let's  launch from the head spring. 

Enter the park at the normal US 40 (aka Silver Springs Boulevard) entrance.   The fees are $5 single occupant or $8 carload to enter park.   There is an additional $4 per kayak launch fee.  There is a kayak drop off and a short distance to launch.  You do NOT park at the launch. Park on the asphalt parking lot after you drop off kayak.

Tell them at the gate you plan to launch.

We made it shorter, by starting at the head spring, so you can go set up camp  at Gores Landing (if that is your plan).

Weather: Silver Springs Hourly Forecast

About the Park

silver-river-paddle info

Some folks may want to do an out and back. However, you can also do a one way trip with a shuttle to Ray Wayside. The park CLOSES at Dusk.  So be back by then to exit park/access car.

Please state in comments if you plan to do out and back or shuttle.  Then work out your own shuttle partners (Or do an out and back trip).

Your admission to the Silver River State Park (keep receipt) gets you into silver river attraction and vice versa (same day). I hiked the sink hole trail at the State Park  not too long ago.  There is also a river trail.

The Fort King Waterway is off to the right of the launch. There are no boats allowed and I found THIS PORTION a very easy kayak.  Then you enter the main spring, (head LEFT upriver).   

After than we can head down river, as far as you wish.  Perhaps see Monkeys.

I do not require folks to kayak as a group. People like to kayak at their own pace, have different size kayaks, and abilities.  

Please note the launch and how to return.  (The  you can tell me!).

If you are new to kayaking, and want me to review basic strokes,  just ask.

Bring water, snacks, PFD and whistle, and safety equipment. 


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  • Linda W.

    Thanks Linda for setting up this paddle. It is definitely one of my favorite.

    April 13

  • Linda W.

    What an absolutely fantastic paddle! Really awesome!

    April 13

  • Bonnie M.

    Would this trip work for StAnd up paddleboarding?

    April 6

    • Linda S

      YES! Part of it. They opened Fort King Waterway. You might ask State Park, about the main river/head spring since they have riverboats (and no swimming signs). But I think the first section might be great. They have fewer huge gators at the attraction park now, (I think). I hung out with a guy doing SUP at Homosassa this weekend. Not sure you want to do entire river (5.1 miles in addition to the fort king section), but the start and head springs (if allowed) would be a nice trip. Like and out and back.

      April 6

    • Linda S

      We saw at least three Paddle boarders. Two in main river and one at Fort King Waterway.

      April 12

  • Linda S

    Saw Deer, Monkeys, loved the fort King Waterway and the one way trip was fantastic. Thanks Denise and Linda W for a great trip

    1 · April 11

    • Denise G

      Perfect kayaking weather! Thanks to Linda S for arranging and thanks Linda W for great company! It was wonderful getting out on the water again.

      1 · April 11

  • Linda S

    OK..here is my Monkey lecture. To see monkeys, paddle slow, look for movement in the trees. AND ask boaters. Yeah..I have paddled right by them sitting on cypress knees. My kayak friends saw them 2 weeks ago. Ok. I'm excited.

    April 10

  • Linda S

    Looks like we will be doing a shuttle. We will meet up at State Park (head spring), drop off Kayaks, drive over to ray wayside, park cars at take out, and drive back to put in. Denise, Linda W and Linda S all are staying near Baseline road Friday night. None of us are camping at Gores.

    April 9

    • Sheri A.

      Linda, you are too kind. I'm still gonna bow out - made alternated plans - need to go to Tampa and get new uniforms for up coming job - what was wrong with just whites for nurses - guess I will have a bunch of navy blue uniforms now

      1 · April 10

    • Linda S

      I miss wearing uniforms. Just spent a tons of bucks today on clothes for a potential corporate job. Navy Blue, huh? Could be worse...

      April 10

  • Linda S

    Weather forecast is great. Sunny. 66 at meet time and will feel and be in 70's.

    April 10

    • Denise G

      Sure looks perfect! Just gave my kayak a bath. What time do you want wake up call?

      1 · April 10

    • Linda S

      8; 8:30. whenever. I put a couple shirts in the truck for you.

      1 · April 10

  • Sheri A.

    So Linda, we are not putting in at rays? Are we doing a shuttle from rays? Is any one camping at gores and just want to continue to float down to gores after we shuttle those that are leaving? how far is that?

    April 8

    • Linda S

      Sheri, we will put in at the HeadSpring and run a shuttle to rays. That will be ~ six miles...and YES you could just float down to Gores...and I'm guessing that would be an extra 8 miles. No one going currently is camping at Gores. But RSVP list changes.

      April 9

  • Sheri A.

    Thinking I will be kayaking fri and sun and bail on the camping - biking with my daughter on saturday

    1 · April 8

  • Diana

    Is there another camp close with electric and water

    1 · March 31

    • Linda S

      Yes. Silver Springs State park. And Santos Close to the Sherriff Station on 441. Can Reserve via Reserve America, but it looks like both Silver River and Santos is full. When you look on reserve america, sometimes they give you nearby parks.

      April 2

    • Diana

      I looked around and there are ni camps.

      1 · April 6

  • Diana

    Sorry..turns out my daughters last game is fri night

    1 · April 6

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry something came up

    1 · April 6

  • Denise G

    Linda can we do a shuttle?

    1 · March 31

  • A former member
    A former member

    I live in Ocala & have kayaked the BEAUTIFUL Silver River many times. I launch at Ray's Wayside at the bridge on SR40 (small park fee) & paddle UPSTREAM. After 45-60 min. there is a small sandy beach type area on the right to pull off for a break. Another 30-45 min. there is a launch area inside the park on the left that is a good place to stop for a break. (The last time I paddled the Silver there was a port-a-john there.) Within another 45-60 min. you will be at the headsprings.

    There are few if any other places to safely stop along the river. Cotton mouths & gators are VERY common. The monkeys are cute & entertaining, but VERY dangerous. They can be aggressive, at times jumping into boats seeking food. They carry hepititis & they bite.

    Paddling downstream with the current at the end of the trip is safer than paddling back upstream (when tired) if you launched at the headspring. You also do not need to worry about the park closing.

    Sorry I cannot join you. Have fun!!!

    1 · March 6, 2014

    • Linda S

      Thanks Suzanne. Good insights. Upstream trip is 5.1 miles from Ray wayside. I see the headspring a lunch as a nice alternative to going upstream, and as an alternative to do a shorter trip. The Fort King waterway is a nice paddle. For those doing the weekend, we will likely see Monkey while paddling near Gores Landing. You don't have to paddle downstream, much. Sunset (when park closes) is nearly 8 pm, in mid April. I posted the heads up on the park closing, as a courtesy, for folks who (on their own) start out later than the 10 am launch time. I live in Ocala, too. I buy an annual pass to launch as Ray Wayside. Maybe we can kayak sometime. thanks a million!

      March 7, 2014

    • Linda S

      For the Monkeys: I met with a subject matter expert doing a study on the Silver River. One thing he said is to NOT kayak under them. You do not want to get "splashed". Plus keep short distance out from shore. If you stop to take pictures, ask a spotter to help. IF you do get bit, nipped or splashed flush & rinse immediately.

      March 23, 2014

  • Linda S

    This is an awesome paddle with tons of wildlife. The Fort King waterway is a nice new addition. You can do a short paddle or a longer one. If you want to hang out with the group great. If you want to go off and explore, or leave early.that is fine too. Just let someone in the group know. I will check the weather the night before the trip. Please update RSVP if you are not coming.

    March 23, 2014

  • Linda S

    Restrooms: Unsure of any at launch, There are facilities not too far in the main park entrance (off to the left once you are in). There are facilities downstream ~ 2.5 miles to State Park ramp. Swimming: THERE "was" no swimming in the main areas we will be kayaking near head spring. That "was" due to tour boats. However since the State took over a) the employees quit feeding the Alligators Marshmallows , b) they retired one set of boats and and c) there has been discussion about allowing swimming in THIS section. Docking: I don't know of any areas to dock kayak near head spring (other than launch) to get out. I usually have lunch/snack at head spring...and at State Park Boat Ramp if we go that far.

    March 23, 2014

  • Linda S

    FYI:There are THREE kayak launches on the Silver river. Ours is #1) at the Head Spring/Fort King Waterway. #2 is at Silver River State Park (Snapping turtle lives under the ramp). Canoes launch here and Port o Potty). #3) is 5.1 miles downstream at Ray Wayside park. It is up a channel from the river.

    March 23, 2014

  • Linda S

    Note: if you have never kayaked Silver River, the channels (waterway) we launch is in OFF the main river. Once ON the main river there are boats to dodge including Silver River Tour boats. Usually not too many on a Friday. But do give the Green and White glass bottom boats the right of way. SECONDARY MEET: Once we launch, our secondary meet will be at the Head Springs near the Statue. Once I'm done exploring near the statue /head spring I park the kayak under the trees along the side (opposite the Glass Bottom Boats). IF you want to go back as a group, you either need to stay with the group or meet up here. SHORT TRIP: If you want a short trip from the head spring you can then proceed through the bridge back to the launch. If you want a longer trip you can go down river, then paddle back upriver and try to find the OTHER exit. We need to look for landmarks as we are exiting to know the way back. I think there is some fencing, since motorized boats are not permitted.

    March 23, 2014

  • Linda S

    Once we are on the water, we are going to turn right at the first main opportunity. #1) Once you launch, do a 360 and look back at the entrance. So you recognize the take out. If you launch early, you can go straight ahead to the bridge, and then return to the launch area to meet up. #2) THEN at the main river, take a look at the channel, so you can find it. #3) You can also get back to the launch via the bridge waterway.

    March 23, 2014

  • Linda S

    The entrance is off US 40. It is the BIG Silver Springs Attraction entrance. Then there is a split. (Wild Water driveway to right. Main entrance to the LEFT). You pay at the guardhouse and go LEFT. As you face Main entrance the Kayak launch is way off on the right side of the main entrance. Drive until you find the road to the launch. The Kayak launch road is a loop near the back of THIS section of the lot. Go around to the right, of the loop, drop off the kayaks, then go back and park. (Look for vehicles with kayaks on them..hopefully you can follow them ). You cannot see the kayak launch from the road.

    March 23, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    many thanks for the opportunity to kayak Silver Springs,unfortunately duty calls and I must report sooner than expected. There will be next year for sure.Garry

    March 6, 2014

  • Paul

    Linda, Can you rent kayaks there? If so, how much and who do you contact?

    Thanks

    March 3, 2014

    • Linda S

      To rent a kayak, contact Silver Springs Management. Local number is 261-5840. Presume are code 352. Single kayaks are $35 for the day. Tandem are $45. Hours are 9 am until 4:30 pm. Last rental is 3:30 p.m. Hourly rates are $14 for single kayak, and $7 additional hours. Rates are $18 for tandem and $9 additional hours. The rental company is right at the put in.

      March 5, 2014

    • Linda S

      FYI: The hours for rental kayaks are different than park hours. The prices quoted are subject to change and may exclude taxes and other fees. They seemed very helpful in person.

      March 5, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    So sorry,I would very much enjoy joining you,Silver River is a super destination,but I must be back in Canada the first part of April.Do not forget me,as I will return in December 2014
    Garry

    1 · March 2, 2014

    • Linda S

      Hi Garry, I live down the road from Silver River, so if you want to do Silver River earlier...give me a shout.

      March 3, 2014

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