Hiking Rainbow Springs State Park

Entrance View

My family has several goals that run concurrently with our big goal of hiking the Appalachian Trail. One of those is to hike all the state parks in Florida. As a disabled veteran, my husband gets a lifetime family pass that waives any entrance fee so it usually makes a for a pretty cheap day. We had big plans to drive about an hour and a half to visit a different park but as usual, there was a wrench thrown into the plans. Since our available time was cut short we decided to hike a park closer to home.

There is really nothing like our springs anywhere in the world. The crystal clear water gives amazing views of bubbling springs, rock formations, grasses, and fish. It is a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit and unbelievably refreshing on a hot, humid Florida afternoon.

Although, I have been tubing down the Rainbow River many times I have never actually visited the park. As you walk through the park to get to the hiking trails you learn a little about the history of the area. Apparently, in the past, they allowed phosphate mining near the river so there are quite a few phosphate pits.

Remains of a phosphate pit.

At one point it was also a true tourist attraction with a small zoo, gardens, and waterfalls. Since Florida is relatively flat, waterfalls even man-made are rare here.

Out of the four trails, we opted for the yellow one which is 1.73 miles and set off. We were not impressed. It ran under a scrub canopy for about 5 minutes and after that, we were in an open field that had signs of a previous burn. There was absolutely no tree cover and therefore no shade from the brutal mid-day Florida sun.

Evidence of a previous burn, this followed us for our entire hike and was almost the total scenery.

This is where I should tell you that I hate Florida scenery. Some people love the Pine trees, palmetto scrub, the sunshine, and the heat. I absolutely hate it. There is nothing fun about swamp ass. For those of you who don’t know, swamp ass is where it is so hot and humid that your nether regions turn into a festering bowl of primordial soup. And once that happens…chaffing! Yes, as a fluffy girl with more than enough thighs chaffing is a HUGE issue.

So let me just skip to the point. I hated this hike. I hated everything about it. All we saw were a few turkeys, some native Southerners in their natural habitat practicing their mating calls (yee-haw and ooh-wee) plus, I’m pretty sure I met my protein requirement based on the number of gnats I inhaled. That being said, I’m glad it’s over and I can cross it off my list.

I do not recommend this hike to anyone. Even if you love the things I mentioned above there are plenty of other places in Florida to see them. The only good thing about this park is the river, and the best way to enjoy that is to tube it!

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