>>Note to all...some Florida kayak friends said they are ticketing kayakers $92 for not having a whistle with their life jacket. Get a whistle, tie to your life vest <<
A paddle trip on the Silver River near Ocala features some of Florida's most beautiful scenery and diverse wildlife. This short river with translucent blue springs has been described as magnificent and magical, but in 1873 Harriett Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin said it best with "There is nothing on earth comparable to it."
Spending the day on Silver River will reveal why the Silver Springs attraction bills itself as "Nature's Theme Park". Beside the subtropical landscape, the river is famous for its abundant wildlife. Anhingas, ducks, egrets, herons, ibis', hawks, limpkins and kingfishers are some of the many birds that inhabit the area.
The fish species is well represented by bluegill, sunfish, bass and prehistoric-looking Longnose Gar. If you have never seen one, gars are cylindrical fish up to four feet in length with long snouts and very sharp teeth. Reptiles are a-plenty too. Turtles and alligators can easily be spotted sunning themselves while lizards and snakes present more of a challenge.
One animal that you wouldn't expect to find in Central Florida is the Rhesus monkey. Several troops of these monkeys live wild along the length of the river. Legend has it the monkeys are descendants of escapees from Tarzan films shot at Silver Springs; however the Silver Springs theme park website lists the source as a concessionaire who operated the Jungle Cruise boat ride during the 1930s. The monkeys were placed on an island in the river and they simply swam off and disappeared into the neighboring forest.
For the past 30 years there has been discussion about removing the monkeys since they are not native to Florida, but due to their popularity the US Forest Service and various Fish & Wildlife agencies have been held at bay. No matter how cute they appear, the monkeys are dangerous. They will aggressively go after someone feeding them and feeding is prohibited by law. One bite from these not-so-friendly little creatures will leave you with a painful trip to an Ocala emergency room.
Now I have never been on this trip myself, but got the above information from this source if you would like to read more: http://www.clubkayak.com/cfkt/trips/silver_river.html
Paddle location and description:
Ray Wayside Park
9570 NE 28th Ln
Silver Springs, FL 34488
Launch is located East of Ocala, on SR40,(aka Ocala Boat Basin. Ocala Yacht Club). About $5 to park (bring exact change for self-pay envelop).
We will Launch at 10:00. PADDLE DESCRIPTION: 10 miles round trip, about 5 hours. No shuttle required. Paddle upstream 5 miles, then relax a bit on the downstream return. We can make a couple stops to relax, eat, and swim. Of course if we find ourselves getting too tired to complete the entire 5 miles upstream we can simply turn around and glide back to our vehicle locations. As I mentioned above I've never been on this trip before, so I am just winging this. If someone has been on this trip before and wants to take the lead please do, otherwise I am certain we will have a good time exploring. I'm very easy going; basically do what you want just make sure you are having fun and hopefully enjoying the nature. If you want to stick with the group please do, if you prefer to go faster or slower please do. Make sure to bring plenty of water, lunch, snacks, your pfd, whistle, Cameras, and any other supplies you like to carry. Weather: Silver Springs Hourly Forecast