This idyllic spot, 603 acres in all, has been occupied periodically since 8,000 B.C. John J. Audubon visited Colonel Orlando Rees here at Spring Garden Plantation in 1832. Audubon wrote that the sight of the spring afforded him pleasure sufficient to counterbalance the tediousness of his daylong journey in a carriage drawn by Indian horses from the Bulow plantation.
DeLeon Springs provides access to Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, where canoeists may explore 21,500 acres of lakes, creeks and marshes. Maps are available at the park concession, as are canoe and paddleboat rentals and snacks.
Scuba diving is limited to open-water instructors and six students. A certification check and Instructor Permit are required. Near remains of an abandoned sugar mill, at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill and Griddle House, visitors may enjoy the speciality grill-your-own pancakes -- made from grain stone-ground on site with French buhr millstones.
A half-mile nature trail meanders through floodplain forest, where a variety of plant and animal life awaits. The trail is extended by Wild Persimmon Trail, built by Florida Trail Association. Picnickers can gather under the live oak trees that grow around the spring.
Florida state parks are open from 8 a.m. until sundown 365 days a year. Admission is $4 per car of eight passengers.