Kelly Park is home to the famous Rock Springs Run, an amazing tributary to the nationally-designated Wild and Scenic Wekiva River. 26,000 gallons per minute of pure 68 degree Florida spring water carry revelers ¾ of a mile downstream over the course of about a half hour. Most are tubing, while others may snorkel or swim along with the irresistible current.
The spring head resembles a pair of eyes shedding unending tears, two holes in a rock face. You’re prohibited from approaching these small caverns, but the swimming/tubing area starts just a few feet away. This upper portion is very rocky, Florida’s famous limestone carved away by the relentless flow. It’s worth bringing a snorkel (or mask, goggles, whatever) in order to view the underwater sculptures. Inner tubes can be rented just outside the park, if desired.
Once downstream a few hundred yards the bottom changes to sand and pebbles before Rock Springs Run widens into a large pool area. The sandy bottom here stays with the river for the rest of its 9 mile journey to the Wekiva River. And what a journey it is, but there’s no launch in the park for paddlers…the closest launch point is just down the street at King’s Landing. However, there is a beach:
While the spring run is the central feature here, there’s plenty more, including nearly 7 miles of trails within the park. There is a Kelly Loop Trail WonderMap below, which also shows 3rd Landing, a gorgeous little picnic area away from the crowds. Beyond this you’ll pass through sinkhole central, an area that makes me want to step with care. A small sinkhole has even opened in the trail, forcing a re-route around it. This part of the hike reminds me of Falling Waters State Park’s sinkhole trail.
Camping is available, including RVs and groups. There are concessions, play areas and the Bear’s Den Environmental Center. In short, this is 355 acres of classic Florida paradise — which is why it’s important to get there before 10 a.m., especially on weekends, holidays and in the summer. This is a favorite spot for locals and it fills up quick; once they reach capacity, no others are allowed in.
Kudos to Orange County Parks & Recreation for providing the best county park I’ve ever experienced, on par with our incredible state parks. Just $3 for a vehicle with 1-2 occupants and $5 for 3-8 occupants…a deal that’s hard to beat. So please check out the Photo Gallery, videos and WonderMap (below), then place this wonderful park high on your Bucket List.
Kelly Loop Trail WonderMap:
Kelly Park, 400 E Kelly Park Rd., Apopka, FL 32712
Phone Number: (407) 254-1902
Winter: 8 a.m.- 6 p.m.; Monday – Sunday
Click HERE for more info.