PONCE DE LEON SPRINGS STATE PARK
This beautiful spring is named for Juan Ponce de Leon, who led the first Spanish expedition to Florida in 1513-as legend has it-in search of the "fountain of youth." Visitors might well regain their youth by taking a dip in the cool, clear waters of Ponce de Leon Springs where the water temperature remains a constant 68 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. The main spring is a convergence of two underground water flows, and produces 14 million gallons of water daily. Visitors can take a leisurely walk along two self-guided nature trails through a lush, hardwood forest and learn about the local ecology and wildlife. Rangers also conduct seasonal guided walks. Picnicking is a popular activity at the park; grills and pavilions are available. Anglers will enjoy fishing for catfish, largemouth bass, chain pickerel, and panfish. Located one-half mile south of U.S. 90 on County Road 181A.
The park property was acquired in 1970 to provide outdoor recreation and opportunities for relaxation and reflection for Florida?s residents and visitors. It had been used for social gatherings of all sorts since the mid 1920?s. The property was once owned by the Smithgall family who built a wooden retaining wall around the spring in 1926 to prevent erosion. It was replaced by a concrete wall in 1953 and eventually with the existing wall in 1983.
The terrain is mostly rolling hills, floodplain forest and swamp which follow the basic patterns of Sandy Creek, Mill Creek and Blue Creek. They connect with the spring run and then flow into the Choctawhatchee River and on into the Gulf of Mexico. Although Ponce De Leon himself may not have actually set foot in these waters nor became any younger, a refreshing feeling of youth will undoubtedly follow a dip into the spring.
On those sweltering days of summer, regain your youth by taking a dip in the cool crystal clear waters of Ponce De Leon Springs where the water temperature remains a constant 68 degrees year round. You may not get any younger but the water is sure to invigorate. The park has a large bathroom facility complete with changing rooms for your convenience.
Fishing is permitted in areas not designated for swimming. Otherwise throw your pole in and watch your cork to see if your efforts are to be rewarded with catches of catfish, largemouth bass, chain pickerel and panfish. If watching closely you can actually see the fish come to the bait.