APOPKA, Fla. - There is nothing more majestic than the crystal clear water of Rock Springs Run. The calm quiet approach to the river is a little deceiving as a group of kayakers is about to have to work hard against this current.
The wild paddler in front is the tour guide for the day, Kim Clow. She knows these waters better than anyone. She said it’s something even the most inexperienced can enjoy.
"I turn this into a boot camp in the beginning, but I promise it’s like going out for ice cream on the way down," she said while laughing.
One of three tributaries that flow into the Wekiva River Basin, Rock Springs Run is narrow and shallow enough to stop off and rest. King’s Landing is one of the best places to push off.
Kayakers enjoying the day in the clear, cool waters of King's Landing
With 26,000 gallons of freshwater pushing out of the ground every minute, kayakers are fighting that flow all the way up.
"When you come out into the main portion of the river, you see the stream is coming at you from the right-hand side and you want to paddle against that current," Clow said. "You always want to start your journey where you can put in as much work as you can in the beginning, so then you can turn around and float back like an easy river."
This rush of water is what keeps the spring so clear and clean all year long.
It feels like you’re in a lush jungle. The sun peaked through here and there – but it was shaded for most of the trek and the water was so cool.
It’s about a 45-minute paddle up the river and a 30-minute float back down. All along passing by other canoers and kayakers. A lot of people bring their own paddle boards.
Finally, the tour group got where we wanted to go – the gem known as Emerald Cut, where they left their kayaks to play a little.
"This water is really good for your muscles. The cold shock helps relax them a little after your journey," Clow said as she hopped out into the water.
For those who are wondering, there are alligators. It is Florida, after all. Clow said if you stay out of their way, they’ll stay out of yours. But, those along for the ride see other wildlife too.
"We always see Kevin," she said, clutching the white feather on her hat. "He’s our great white egret. I'm strutting one of his beautiful feathers."
Nature is everywhere.
"We see otters, bears, we’ve had reports of bobcats every now and then," Clow described. "The fish and turtle life is beautiful too. Softshell turtle and yellow red belly sliders."
At the base of a huge tree in the middle of Emerald Cut, it's the best jumping-off point to land in the chilly water.
Clow led the way, instructing, "Walk up to those roots and hands and feet climb up and stand up. It takes your breath away at first, but it’s worth it."
Then, it was time to turn around and head back to King’s Landing.
She wasn’t lying about the easy river float back either. It’s no work at all. And you have a chance to savor the work you’ve done, the time you’ve spent, and feel the breeze.
The tour guides keep things fun too. You never know what’s coming around the corner. As Clow came around a corner turn, she came face-to-face with a super soaker from a friend and fellow tour guide. She defended herself with a paddle.
The current took us away too fast. "I missed you, JP!" she yelled.
There is a lot of laughing and a lot of languishing along this beautiful stretch of water. The current is faster than you’d expect. It’s the perfect finish. It truly is a lazy river.
"It’s something you wouldn’t want to miss. The river is easy to paddle," Clow offered. "And you take it all in. You can’t miss out on an opportunity to come out here."
There’s something about it that just makes you feel a little free – and refreshed – for the day.
Learn more about the state park by heading over to the King's Landing website: Kingslandingfl.com.