Ponce de Leon State Park is named after Juan Ponce de Leon who led the first Spanish expedition in 1513. It has been thought that he was on this expedition in search of the “fountain of youth.” It’s located in Holmes county about a mile and a half south of US-90 on CR-181A.
Entry Into The Park
The entry fee into the park is currently $4 per car. As with most places during the pandemic when the parking lot fills they do not allow any more visitors until someone leaves. This includes vehicles, cyclists, or pedestrians. You can purchase your entry fee for the day online at the Florida State Parks/Ponce de Leon Website.
Plenty To Do Here But No Camping
This park features picnicking, swimming, hiking, Geocaching, and fishing. There is no camping at this park. There are grills and pavilions to picnic at but they fill fast so come early. On the day of our visit we came a little later in the day but were more interested in hiking and looking around so we didn’t need a picnic area. The springs were a little crowded but nothing crazy. I guess that is a perk of being able to get there during the week as opposed to a weekend.
68 Degree Water Temperatures Year-Round
The water was crystal clear but the swimming area itself was not that big. The water temperature is a constant 68 degrees. The spring head is formed by the meeting of two underground water flows which combined pump up 14 million gallons of water a day. I am guessing on a busy day the swimming area would be very crowded. The water area is surrounded by a concrete/stone wall. It averages about 3 feet deep with one area it drops to about 25 feet. This is the area snorkeling is allowed.
Two Short Hiking/Nature Trails
There are two short hiking trails. The Sandy Creek and The Spring Run trail wind their way through the park and around Sandy Creek. There is fishing allowed in Sandy Creek. I am not a fisherman but people we ran into on the trail that were fishing told us they were fishing for large mouth bass, chicken pickerel, panfish and catfish.
The trails were easily completed as the terrain was flat and cleared out pretty well. The two trails combined were about three quarters of a mile long. They are both loop trails. There is a Geocache located on one of the trails but unfortunately we did not find it.
Ponce de Leon state park is on the smaller side as far as Florida State parks go. The spring water is crystal clear but the swimming area is small. The hiking trails are scenic but easy to navigate. Actually it might be more accurate to call them nature walks as opposed to hiking trails. There are picnic tables and bbq’s to use but during a summer weekend we can bet they fill up fast. If you get here early you may be able to score a picnic area. For $4 a car load this park would be a great way to spend the day with your family.
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Have you been to this Florida State park? If not, would a park like this be of interest to you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.