Hidden Florida: Ginger Ale Spring
Bubbling up just off a busy Altamonte Springs road is one of Central Florida's most unique but least known natural treasures. Named for the soft drink made from its waters a century ago, Ginger Ale Spring presents a serene scene that couldn't be more different from the suburban sprawl surrounding it.
Ginger Ale Spring today
Altamonte’s spring-centered recreational parks remained popular local attractions for decades. The last, Sanlando Spring, closed in 1970. In 1971, both Palm and Sanlando Springs became part of “The Springs” residential subdivision, Seminole County’s first planned unit development. Today, they serve as amenities for the residents of the gated community, and the wider area has increasingly been absorbed by Central Florida’s outward sprawl.
Today, Ginger Ale Spring lies on a stretch of county land outside the subdivision, making it oddly more accessible today than its historically more prominent sister springs. Still, hidden from view and lacking signage and parking, its presence is unknown even to many locals. While 40,000 people live within a few miles and tens of thousands more drive by on Interstate 4 each day, most pass the site by without ever knowing it’s there.
The culvert near Ginger Ale Spring.
Finding Ginger Ale Spring involves walking up Markham Woods Road, one of Altamonte Springs’ main thoroughfares. A small dirt path winds down to a culvert that carries rainwater underneath the road. Deeper into the trees just beyond the culvert is the cement basin encircling the main springhead, all that remains of Beeman’s bottling plant. Small fish and other aquatic life have swum up from the Floridan Aquifer to make their home in the forgotten pool.
Ginger Ale Spring is a fifth magnitude spring, and a small waterfall pours perpetually from the tub into a shallow sandy stream. Several smaller spring boils can be seen all around the basin. Following the stream deeper into the woods leads to a particularly pleasant view of the Little Wekiva River.
The Little Wekiva River.
Ginger Ale Spring offers a glimpse of what the spring system looked like before suburban sprawl came to characterize the area. If you happen to come across it, make sure to leave it as you found it.
Article by Bill Delaney. Contact Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.