Kelly Park in Apopka, Florida, hosts the beautiful Rock Spring, a second-magnitude freshwater spring that pours thousands of gallons of freshwater from the face of a dramatic limestone formation. Visitors are encouraged to bring (or rent) inflatable tubes for a relaxing, scenic meander through wild Florida. Often otter can be spied playing among the large, flat rocks that the spring was named for, and white-tailed deer peer out from the woods as swimmers and tubers float by.
The part of the run that is accessible to the public is approximately three-quarters of a mile long, flowing toward the nationally designated Wild and Scenic Wekiva River. At the midway point, the run opens up into a wide pool that is surrounded by a sandy beach and picnic area. This spot is also accessible by foot from the parking area, and it features a concessionaire as well as public restrooms. Determined tubers and swimmers may choose to float on past the point for another view of the run as it winds its way toward the river before exiting at a small footbridge farther downstream.
Nearby this beautiful waterway lies the Kelly Park Loop Trail with 2.4 miles of easy hiking and a multitude of opportunities for wildlife viewing. Fox squirrel, deer, Luna moths and even black bears have been spotted along this trail, so visitors are encouraged to keep their eyes open. Besides offering a spectacular view of the spring itself, the Kelly Park Loop also winds through an upland hammock filled with oaks, pines and a floor of ferns. Since this is spring country, the trail also has a few enjoyable ups and downs, thanks to the geological formations of the aquifer beneath the surface.
When visiting Kelly Park, it is important to remember that this popular spot is frequently filled to capacity by mid-morning, so arriving early is strongly advised. The campground is also a popular location, offering both tent and RV sites, so make reservations in advance.