Blue Run Park is a hidden gem in Dunnellon.When anyone mentions the sleepy Central Florida town of Dunnellon, the first thing that comes to mind is the Rainbow River: the pristine waterway that meanders through the town, joining up with the black waters of the Withlacoochee River to head out to the Gulf via Lake Rousseau. The spring fed (72F year round) river begins at Rainbow Springs State Park, and tourists and locals alike flood the State Park to take a dip in the refreshing waters. Those in the know head over to the KP Hole to tube the Rainbow, hanging out with friends and family on their four hour tube trip (only 2 hours if you go from the Rainbow Springs Campground tubing entrance!).
Alas, all good trips must come to an end, and the tubers exit at a boardwalk on the other side of the bridge on Highway 484, a park otherwise known as Blue Run, where they wait for the bus that will haul them and their tubes back to where they started. For most, getting out of the water, waiting for the bus and using the porta-potty are all that they will remember about Blue Run, but for the locals, it is a hidden gem along the Rainbow River to be explored, and explore we did!
I must confess, though a fairly new park ( though it has been the local tuber exit forever), I have picnicked at the benches overlooking the 3 acre pond adjacent to the Rainbow River with the girls and walked the path though the woods with my daughter, but this was my son’s first adventure in Blue Run. They had just paved the main trail that runs parallel to the Rainbow River (it used to be a grassy track), the pond on one side, the river on the other. This path splits at a junction farther on, one way heading out to the Bridge over the Withlacoochee River, where we had visited on an earlier adventure, and the other heading towards the Pruitt Trailhead, both part of the proposed Heart of Florida Bike Trail.
We followed it for quite a while, before having to turn back due to an on coming storm. Next time, we will bring bikes! Or roller skates (my daughter says). The Blue Run Pond trail links onto this and we continued our trek around the rest of the pond and back towards the parking area, where we were spooked by a large snake. Wild life here abounds. Aside from the bass hanging out at the tuber exit, be on the look out for deer, wild hogs, gators & snakes. Wild Florida at it’s best!
Blue Run Park is located on Highway 484 (aka Pennsylvania Avenue) just over the bridge when you are leaving Dunnellon towards Ocala.
Things To Know Before You Go:
1. There is no fee for this park, and also only a porta-potty for a bathroom facility.
2. The boardwalk is a tuber exit and kayak/canoe put in place, not a swimming hole. There is a city beach farther around the corner (behind the SunTrust) for swimming.
3. Bring a bike, roller-skates, push scooter for the paved trail. No motor vehicles on this trail!
4. If the (small) parking area is full, you can park on the other side of the bridge along the street in the designated parking areas and walk back.
5. Bring your own water.
6. There is a restaurant located conveniently over the bridge (Swampy’s) or you can walk a little further down the road to Loafers (BBQ).
7. Right next to Swampy’s is a kayak/canoe/tube rental place- Aquatic Wilderness Adventures.