Must-Visit Natural Springs & Lakes In West Volusia, FL

Natural Lakes in West Volusia
Photo by Olga Khoroshunova from AdobeStock

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Sitting between Orlando and Daytona Beach are 14 communities that make up West Volusia, Florida. Unlike anywhere else in the country, West Volusia is known for its natural springs and lakes, where clear waters and beautiful landscapes are a refreshing break from every day life. While great for swimming, kayaking, and enjoying nature, they’re also important for the environment, providing habitats for animals and plants. These natural treasures are a big part of what make the area special, drawing all who love the outdoors and want to explore Florida’s natural beauty. 

Join us for an exciting discovery tour as we highlight the natural springs and lakes near Orlando, nestled in the quaint towns of lesser-known West Volusia.

DeLeon Springs State Park

A historical wonder where nature and history blend seamlessly, DeLeon Springs invites you to swim in the same springs where Native Americans once lived. With waters staying constant at about 72 degrees, it’s perfect for a dip any time of year, except during “manatee season,” (mid-November thru the end of March) when all water activities are prohibited. If swimming isn’t your thing, kayaks and paddle boats are also available to rent. And, as you glide across the water, expect to see manatees, alligators, turtles and all types of wildlife. 

Looking to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground but still want to see the springs in all its splendor? There are lots of trails for you to hike while taking in all of Mother Nature’s beauty. The park, located in the town of DeLeon Springs, is also home to the Old Spanish Sugar Mill, where you can make your own pancakes, adding a tasty twist to your adventure.

Traveler Tip: The water is easily accessible via a set of stairs. Algae makes the stairs a bit slippery, so be sure to  hold on to the railing as you descend.

St. Johns River Blueways

Providing a network of water trails giving kayak and canoe paddlers endless opportunities to explore the backwaters of West Volusia, St. Johns River Blueways meander through 310 miles of scenic landscapes. Here, you get the chance to discover all of the wildlife and vegetation that line the riverbanks. It’s an invitation to paddle this “river of lakes” for a personal encounter with all of its natural beauty and wildlife.

Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, DeLeon Springs

Spread over 22,000 acres, Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge is a mosaic of marshes, swamps, and streams that provide a habitat for all kinds of birds, fish, and mammals. The Refuge is chock-full of activities to enjoy, with everything from nature photography and bird watching to hiking, fishing, and boating. There are fifteen miles of trails ready for you to explore, either by foot, bike, or horseback. The peacefulness of Lake Woodruff makes it an ideal location for birdwatching and getting back to nature.

Green Springs Park

Green Springs Park is a sprawling 36 acres in Enterprise, showcasing one of Florida’s unique green sulfur springs. The park is a great choice when you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, with both paved and natural trails that meander through scenic overlooks. Kids can play to their heart’s content on the playground, while you and your friends gather at picnic pavilions for a day under the sun. While you can’t fish or swim here, the free admission means everyone can enjoy the natural beauty and historical intrigue of Green Springs Park.

Gemini Springs Park

Where nature’s beauty meets a lot of fun things to do, Gemini Springs Park in Debary has twin springs as its centerpiece. It spreads out over acres of greenery, where a boardwalk lets you wander through nature without getting your feet dirty. If you’re in for a bit of adventure, you can set up camp, paddle a canoe, or even horseback ride through the trails. You can fish, have a picnic, or have get-togethers under the pavilion. It’s perfect for hanging out with friends or family. 

Kids have a blast on the playground, while bikers and hikers can explore paved and multi-use trails crisscrossing the park. Plus, there’s a dog park, so you can bring along your four-legged friend. 

Hontoon Island State Park

Hontoon Island State Park in DeLand is your personal paradise for hiking, cycling, and exploring Florida’s natural flora and fauna. The park is rich in Native American history, with ancient shell mounds and artifacts waiting for you to discover. As its name implies, this “island” is only accessible by boat with about 500 feet of water between it and the “mainland.” It’s a great spot for camping or, if you prefer, there are cabins for you to stay. The island can also be a home base for a canoe or kayak trip, too. For a great workout, a paddle around the island is about a 10 mile trip. 

Lake Beresford State Park

Where its waters meet the St. Johns River, DeLand’s Lake Beresford is a favorite spot for crew teams from all over the country, and even the world, to come and perfect their rowing. On the eastern side of the lake, there’s a park that’s perfect for hikers and cyclists, with trails stretching all the way to Blue Spring State Park. If you’re up for a stroll, you can follow one of two walking paths through thick saw palmetto and hardwoods, leading you to the best lakeside seats for catching a stunning sunset.

Blue Spring State Park

Serving as a winter refuge for manatees along the St Johns River, Blue Spring in Orange City, is where these gentle giants congregate in the winter months. The clear blue waters create an “open window” for you to observe these creatures “up close and personal” in their natural habitat. The springs run several miles with a boardwalk stretching about a ⅓ of a mile, with multiple viewing platforms to watch the manatees, turtles, birds, and fish. 

There are water sports aplenty here as the park is a favorite spot for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and diving. Land lovers can play volleyball or let the kids loose on the playgrounds. Don’t miss the Thursby Plantation House. It’s a step back into the 1800s, capturing Florida’s transition from frontier to statehood. There are also two separate picnic areas, so don’t forget to bring your picnic basket of goodies. 

From Blue Spring State Park: “Effective April 1, 2024, in-water activities are closed while we stabilize the shoreline at Blue Spring State Park. This closure includes swimming, snorkeling, tubing, diving, and paddling in the spring run and spring head. Boat tours and paddling are only allowed in the St. Johns River. Visitors are asked to adhere to all 

Posted signs and avoid closed areas when visiting the park.

For the latest park updates, go to www.friendsofbluespringstatepark.org.

McGarity Lake

Though lesser known than other lakes in West Volusia, McGarity Lake in Deltona, Florida is the perfect spot for escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life, while enjoying a day of fishing, birdwatching, or just relaxing in a quiet, secluded setting. Located in Campbell Park, the lake is the centerpiece of the 14-acre park that has two fishing piers, a floating dock, a waterfront boardwalk, walking trails, and a playground.

Lake Helen

Surrounded by whispering pines and majestic oaks, Lake Helen is the perfect backdrop for a day of relaxation or adventure. Whether you’re paddling in a kayak, casting a line in hopes of catching a fish, or simply enjoying the views from the shore, it’s a peaceful escape from the everyday.

As seasons change, the lake becomes a canvas of nature’s best colors, from the greens of summer to the warm hues of fall. Wildlife flourishes here, with opportunities for you to spot everything from herons to otters. So, leave life behind for a day and reconnect with nature’s simple pleasures in the beautiful town of Lake Helen. You’ll be glad you did.

Spring-to-Spring Trail

Grab your bike, lace up your sneakers, or saddle up your horse, and hit the trail to discover what makes the Spring-to-Spring Trail starting in DeBary a hidden gem in West Volusia’s great outdoors. With every step, pedal, or trot, the natural beauty of Florida unfolds before you. The paved pathway is your guide to the world of natural springs, landscapes, and the wildlife of West Volusia. From the calm spring waters where you can watch the manatees to fields of wildflowers, each turn reveals something new. Designed with adventurers in mind, the trail links a series of Florida’s natural springs, with plenty to see and do along the way.

West Volusia’s Outdoor Escapes: Springs & Lakes for Every Adventurer

Each of these natural wonders is a great way for you to experience the beauty of West Volusia. From the crystal-clear springs that invite you for a swim to the tranquil lakes perfect for fishing or kayaking, there’s a slice of nature’s paradise for every outdoor-loving adventurer. So pack your swimsuit, grab your hiking boots, or get your kayak ready for an unforgettable adventure in the natural springs and lakes of West Volusia.

Want to explore more of Florida’s natural springs? Click here to discover even more hidden gems waiting for you!

**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida and beyond, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

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july, 2024

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