East Central

A horseback adventure at Rock Springs Run State Reserve

I have always loved horses, but only to admire from afar. Because of a bad experience as a young girl, I have always been afraid to ride. So when John suggested that we go on a horseback riding adventure, my first reaction was, NO WAY!

John knew that if I had a good experience, I would love it, so he did a little research on guided trail tours. He found one he thought might be perfect for me, and after a little convincing, I decided that maybe it was finally time to conquer this lifelong fear. After all, I have always been in love with horses, just from a distance.

John picked Rock Springs Run Trail Rides because of its good reviews from other happy riders. I liked the fact that from what I read in the reviews, they appeared to be friendly toward the inexperienced and somewhat fearful riders such as myself. We also took into consideration the fact that they are on state property, and an outfit operating on state property usually has to maintain a higher standard of safety.

My ride was just about perfect, and the horses were so well behaved. I know that is not always the case, as horses can be unpredictable, but our ride was a breeze, and I wondered what I had been afraid of all these years. Our guide Aaron is a lifelong horseman, and I found his history of traveling the world working with racehorses very interesting. You could tell he loves horses and had knowledge of the unique personalities of each horse in their stable.

We also noticed that the horses were well looked after, seemed fit, and appeared to be eager to take us for a ride. I don’t know how to tell if a horse is happy or not, and this might sound silly, but my horse, Gypsy, was so sweet that it felt like she wanted me to have a good experience.

This same outfit, Cactus Jacks, also runs horse trail tours in Ocala. For your convenience, here is a link to their official website, where you can get more information on pricing, trail ride times, etc.. and to make reservations. Cactus Jacks Reservations

Horse, Hiking and Bike Trails

For horse owners wishing to ride their own horse in the reserve, Rock Springs Run State Reserve has the 17 mile Green Blaze Horse/ Multi-use Trail. The trails go through wilderness areas, so riders should bring a compass, water and pick up a trail map at the trail entrance. There is a flowing well along the trail for thirsty horses, but the water is not for human consumption. Trail Head horse trailer parking is provided at lot 4. Primitive equestrian camping is available. Registration is required by calling (407) 553-4383

Rock Springs Run State Reserve is also a great place for a hiking or biking adventure. Trails wind through diverse habitats such as sand pine scrub, pine Flatwoods, bay heads, oak hammocks, and swamps.

The Reserve is a Florida Black Bear habitat, and bear sightings are possible. One should always be bear aware. Familiarize yourself with bear safety at the bear aware kiosks located at each trailhead and read up on what to do if you have a bear encounter.

John was hoping to see a bear on our ride, I am glad that we didn’t. We did see other wildlife though especially Sandhill Cranes and Wild Turkeys.

Ethel Trail

While hiking or riding the trails at Rock Springs, you just may stumble across a piece of history.

In the late 1800s, a small community named Ethel stood where Rock Springs State Reserve stands today. All that’s left of Ethel is the Ethel Cemetery, which was established around 1880. Ethel Cemetery is a one-acre site containing only three tombstones, but research has identified a total of twenty-nine burials so far. 

Rock Springs Run

 Rock Springs Run is an eight-mile river that forms the boundary between Wekiwa Springs State Park and Rock Springs Run State Reserve. Rock Springs Run eventually flows into the Wekiva River, which then runs 15 miles and empties into the St. Johns River. There is no access to the Wekiva River from Rock Springs Run Reserve property.

Rock Springs Run Trail Rides Is located at 31700 County Road 433
Sorrento, FL 32776
. The address to Rock Springs Run State Reserve is 30601 County Road 433 in Sorrento, FL 32776. The entrance fee to the Reserve is $3 per car. Sorrento is about 25 miles NW of Orlando.

Until next time, Happy Trails everyone!

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