||Scenery: Very Good
|Distance: 12 miles
one-way from Ray Wayside Park to Gores Landing
|Atlas: Page 72 C-3
|Last Update: April 2006
||Canoe OK: Yes
The scenic Oklawaha (also called Ocklawaha) River follows the edge
of the Ocala National Forest in central Florida and is one of the
State's only south to north flowing rivers. The river is famous
for its incredible array of flora and fauna and diverse bio-habits
and great paddling opportunities.
For history buffs, in the late 1800's steamboats and barges noisily
traveled along the Oklawaha river carrying people and goods from
Jacksonville to Silver Springs. The boats were much smaller than
those found along the Mississippi due to the Oklawaha's narrow twists
SR 40 Bridge
| The Oklawaha river starts in Lake County in
a series of lakes near the cities of Mount Dora and Winter Garden.
The river flows north through Marion and Putnum Counties into
the Cross Florida Barge Canal, eventually ending in the St.
John's River near Palatica. The entire trip is over 110 miles
crossing lakes, canals, rivers, spring runs and swamps.
At the junction of I-75 and SR 40 (exit 352, old #69) in Ocala,
turn east (right) on SR 40 and go 9 miles to the Silver Springs
attraction. Continue past the amusement park on SR 40 for 2 miles.
Turn north (left) on County Road 315. Go north towards Fort McCoy
for approximately 6 miles. Turn right at sign indicating Gores Landing
(N.E. 150th Street). The campground and boat launch is approximately
3 1/2 miles from CR 315.
Leave a car at the campground parking lot. Return to the intersection
of SR 40 and CR 315. Turn east (left) on SR 40 and go 1 mile to
Ray Wayside Park. The park is west of Delks Bluff Bridge. A canoe
launch is located at the far end of the park just past the boat
Boat, Paddle, PFD
Ray Wayside Park Entrance Fee, $3
Spring and swamp fed
Current 3 MPH
Lakes, Marshes, Swamps
Oak & Cypress Forests
Wild Rhesus Monkeys
Many Fish, Birds, Mammals, Reptiles
Tour: Ray Wayside Park to Gores Landing
Note: This trip requires a 12 mile shuttle from the take-out at
Gores Landing returning to Ray Wayside Park. Leave a car at Gores
Landing and take your primary vehicle (with boats and gear) to the
To begin, start at the Ray Wayside Park canoe launch and paddle
200 yards along the canal to the Silver River. If you have the time,
Silver River offers crystal-clear spring fed waters with white sandy
bottoms and an abundance of wildlife. After a brief diversion paddling
up the Silver, reverse direction and head downstream. Delks Bluff
Bridge, the overpass for SR 40, lies just past where the clear waters
of the Silver meet the tannin stained Oklawaha River.
The trip downriver is easy to paddle with a 3 MPH current. Always
be on the lookout for deadfalls, napping alligators and erratic
motorboat operators. Continuing northeast from the bridge, the river
passes through several narrow sections with high limestone bluffs
and small sand beaches that offer a nice place to take a quick break.
About three-quarter way to the take-out, you'll come across abandoned
buildings and cleared yards that once belonged to local farmers.
Prior to reaching Gores Landing on the south side of the river is
a passageway to the Dead River area. Should you decide to take this
one extra mile diversion, the river meets up with the Oklawaha a
few hundred feet from Gores Landing.
Trees along the river form a beautiful canopy as you near the park.
Be on the lookout for a troop of wild Rhesus monkeys. Legend has
it the monkeys are descendants of escapees from Tarzan films shot
at Silver Springs; however the Silver Springs web site lists the
source as Colonel Tooey, concessionaire who operated the Jungle
Cruise boat ride during the 1930s. Evidentially the good Colonel
put the monkeys on an island in the river without realizing they
are capable swimmers. While the monkeys are fun to photograph and
watch, be careful to stay a good distance away from them as they
bite, scratch and are generally ill mannered.
You can spot the take-out at Gores Landing by the canoe launch
(sandy beach) and small channel to the boat ramp on the north side
of the river. Gores Landing is a Marion county park offering river
access, picniking, restrooms and camping (fee required).
Tree canopy by Gores Landing.
Quick side-trip on the Silver River.
| GPS Location Aid
|Ray Wayside Park
|Good Picnic Area
|N 29 17.367