June 24, 2021
State Road 19 is a short road in Central Florida that runs north from Groveland to Palatka. Don't confuse it with US-19, which is a federal highway on the west coast of Florida.
Groveland is a small town near Clermont about 30 miles west of Orlando on State Road 50. It is where SR50 meets SR33 and SR19
The total length of State Road 19 is 88.8 miles, and more than half of that is through the quiet and pristine rolling hills and woods of the Ocala National Forest.
You can get off the main road at several locations and be guided to all kinds of sights in the forest.
One popular attraction is Alexander Springs, just a short hop east from State Road 19. You can also take a dirt road east near Salt Springs and catch a ride on the historic Fort Gates Ferry.
Some of the towns you will go through, from south to north:
GROVELAND is a town of about 9,000 people at the intersection of State Roads 19, 33, and 50. It was an important citrus center in past years, and is now one of the fastest growing areas in Central Florida. It is the hometown of former Gator and NFL running back Jeff Demps. Click on photo for more.
HOWEY IN THE HILLS is a quiet town of about 1,200 that was at one time the center of a huge citrus enterprise. It is located on Little Lake Harris, one of the lakes in the Harris Chain. John Howey developed the area in the early 1920s. Howey is the current home of the famous Mission Inn Resort and Club. Click on photo for more.
TAVARES is a town of about 14,000 people located on Lake Dora. It is the busy county seat of Lake County. The town was a citrus center, but the freezes of the 1980s destroyed many groves. The downtown district has hotels, restaurants, and has been revitalized. The town as been reinvented as "The Seaplane City". Click on photo for more.
EUSTIS is on one of the Harris Chain of Lakes: Lake Eustis. It is near Tavares and Mount Dora. It is the location of a large sailing club, good shops, and restaurants. Click on photo for more.
UMATILLA is a small town that was in the middle of citrus country back before the giant freezes of the 1980s. It had one of the largest citrus concentrate plants in Florida.
ALTOONA is a very small place at the intersection of State Road 19 and Country Road 42. An interesting side trip is a few miles east to Paisley, the cemetery where Walt Disney's grandparents are buried. Click on photo for more about the cemetery.
SALT SPRINGS is a tiny community in the middle of the Ocala National Forest. There is a recreational area there, and you can also take a dirt road east to the Fort Gates Ferry. Click on photo to learn more about the ferry.
PALATKA is on the St. Johns River and was one of the earliest settlements in Central Florida. It is located where the waters are still deep. The river gets more shallow to the north. Click on photo for more.