Springs Fever: A Field & Recreation Guide to 500 Florida Springs.
2nd Edition by Joe Follman and Richard Buchanan

Part II.

Springs Near Tallahassee

This region has a cluster of very large springs in and near Wakulla County as well many smaller springs.  The area is also honeycombed with sinkholes, a number of which are very large.  Springs in this region range from the famous'”Wakulla'”to the unknown'”Shepherd.

The greatest group of them all, Spring Creek, lies just offshore of the community named for it in Wakulla County.  Not only is Spring Creek by far the largest known spring cluster, but its main spring may be one of the the largest single springs in Florida.  Spring Creek appears to have several first-magnitude springs, and at low tide these flows present the most dramatic boils of any Florida spring.

As there is no clear sequence for visiting these springs, they are listed in alphabetical order.
 
 

Part II Contents

               Horn Springs (2)
               Indian Springs
               Kini Spring
               McBride Slough Spring
               Natural Bridge Spring
               Newport Spring
               Panacea Mineral Springs (7+)
                    An Essay on Mashes Sands Beach
               Rhodes Springs (2)
               Riversink Spring
               St. Marks Spring
               Unnamed St. Marks Sulfur Spring #1
               Unnamed St. Marks Sulfur Spring #2
               Unnamed St. Marks Spring #3
               Sally Ward Spring
               Shepherd Spring
                  An Essay on Shepherd Spring
               Spring Creek Group (9+)
                    An Essay on Spring Creek
               Wacissa River Springs Group
                    Wacissa Spring
                    Thomas Spring
                    Log Spring
                    Horsehead Spring
                    JEF312991
                    Cassidy (or Cassida) Spring
                    Blue (or Little Blue) Spring
                    Allen Springs
                    Minnow Spring
                    Buzzard (or Buzzer'™s) Log Springs
                    Big (or Big Blue) Spring
                    JEF64991
                    JEF64992
                    JEF64993
                         An Essay on the Wacissa River
                         An Essay on the Wacissa Slave Canal
               Wakulla Springs
               Unnamed Spring on Wakulla River #1
               Unnamed Spring on Wakulla River #2
               Unnamed Spring on Wakulla River #3
               Unnamed Spring on Wakulla River #4
 
 

Horn Springs
Leon County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”very good
How Pristine?'”very unspoiled; small beach area
Swimming'”fair
Protection'”good
Crowds'”none
Access'”currently none
Facilities'”none
Safety'”fair
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”free

Directions
From Tallahassee, take U.S. 319 south to State Road 363 (Woodville Highway) south to Natural Bridge Road east. 1.7 miles passing the monument, turn left on sand road. Stay on this main sand road and do not be tempted by turnoffs that lead who-knows-where. Spring is 2.3 miles on the left.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as  weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
Horn Springs consist of a large pool deep in the woods and a smaller spring downstream nearby. The area around the springs is pine forest with some oak and other hardwoods and the land is gentle rolling hills. The flow from the two springs feeds the St. Marks River, which is not generally navigable above this point. The large pool is round and about 75 feet in diameter, ranges from blue to green in color, and has algae on the surface in the warm months. Heavy, overhanging forest rings the pool. The water was milky blue the times the authors visited, with visibility of only about two feet. The smaller pool is shallow and about 30 feet in diameter. The run from the smaller pool joins the run from the larger spring which meets the St. Marks River about 350 feet from the main spring.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
Visiting the springs the first time can be discomfiting, as the spot is very remote, difficult to locate and drive to in a two-wheel-drive vehicle, and it is hard to tell which of the many sand roads is the correct route. The spring itself, however, is lovely and peaceful. It appears that most of the local folk who frequent it just go to relax and enjoy being at the site.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Battle of Natural Bridge Monument
St. Marks Wildlife Refuge
Apalachicola National Forest
Wacissa River and Slave Canal
Econfina River State Park
 
 

Indian Springs
Wakulla County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd magnitude
Scenery'”good
How Pristine?'”modified recreation/swim area
Swimming'”very good
Protection'”very good
Crowds'”not crowded
Access'”private'”must reserve space
Facilities'”excellent
Safety'”excellent
Scuba'”not allowed
Cost'”group rates

Directions
From downtown Tallahassee, drive south on South Adams until it becomes Crawfordville Highway (US 319 South). Continue past Capital Circle until the road forks to the left and becomes Wakulla Springs Road (State Road 61). Continue on through portions of the Apalachicola National Forest until you come to State Road 267. Turn right for about a quarter of a mile and then turn left into the entrance of Camp Indian Springs.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
The spring pool is oblong, about 190 by 130 feet. The vent extends down more than 60 feet before narrowing to the point that divers cannot navigate it. The land slopes down steeply from the camp buildings to the water, where a small dock extends over the basin. As you stand on the dock overlooking the basin, the vent is just off the platform and creates a mild boil. The run is to the left or south, draining into a swampy area that flows under the small bridge on Wakulla Springs Road, just south of 267, and into the run from Sally Ward Spring in Wakulla Springs State Park. Water color ranges from deep blue to greenish and murky depending on the season, water level, and lighting conditions.

Use/Access
The land around the spring is owned by the YMCA and is operated as a camp, so is not open unless you are attending one of their camps or can make group arrangements for a special event. The spring has slides, hanging bridge, and dive platform, and a torpedo-shaped flotation device used for catapulting into the water.

Local Springiana

Personal Impressions
JF wishes this attractive little spring were more open to the general public.  Once, overcome by desire to see the site, he drove in and photographed it.  Seeing no one around, he proceeded to jump into the spring pool but was immediately spotted and ejected from the property.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
 
 

Kini Spring
Wakulla County

Summary of Features
Scale'”1st magnitude
Scenery'”poor
How Pristine?'”completely unspoiled
Swimming'”none
Protection'”good
Crowds'”none
Access'”none'”private land

Directions
From Tallahassee, take U.S. 319 south to Wakulla County. Shortly after crossing the Wakulla County line, turn left on first significant dirt road past the Riversink gas station/convenience store. Take next left and then go left at the fork. Right at a 90-degree turn to the right, the path to spring is on the left past/behind the barbed wire fence and "No Trespassing" signs.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as  weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
Kini is a karst window or spring/sink combination about 250 feet long and 120 feet wide. The spring and run are dowel-shaped and are completely wooded and fenced off from the nearby road. There is a house with a small dock on the north side. The site is very near, and similar in size and composition to, Riversink Spring. According to Rosenau et al., the water appears to drain into two sinks, of which one swirls clockwise and the other counterclockwise (1977, p. 407).

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
Looks like nothing more than an overgrown pond. As the water was not clear and the flow barely evident, the site was not worth the risk of trespassing.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Wakulla Springs State Park
Apalachicola National Forest
Leon County Sinks

Contact Information
Camp Indian Springs
Wakulla Springs, FL
840-926-3361
 
 


McBride Slough Spring
Wakulla County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”good
How Pristine?'”unspoiled; small dock/beach area, some land cleared west of spring
Swimming'”fair
Protection'”unknown/private
Access'”private/no land access; access very difficult from the water.

Quick Directions
2.5 miles east of intersection of State Roads 61 and 267 about 30 minutes' drive south of Tallahassee.

Full Directions
From downtown Tallahassee, drive south on South Adams until it becomes Crawfordville Highway (US 319 South). Continue past Capital Circle until the road forks to the left and forms Wakulla Springs Road (State Road 61). Continue on through portions of the Apalachicola National Forest until you come to State Road 267. Turn left and drive about 2.5 miles until you reach a small bridge that goes over the slough. The spring pool is about 150 feet upstream from the bridge on the left (west) side.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as  weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
McBride is a spring upwelling that feeds (and perhaps forms?) a swampy flow that joins with the Wakulla River in Wakulla Springs State Park to the south. The headspring pool is circular and approximately 45 feet in diameter. The bottom of the pool is covered in eelgrass except for the vent. Except over the vent, the pool is 2-3 feet deep. The water is very clear, with a bluish tinge over the vent. The spring issues from two holes about a yard apart; this is actually a single tube with a large rock at the opening that splits the flow. The land on the west side of the spring has been cleared of underbrush, and there is a small dock/platform in the SW corner of the pool. Water flows south from the pool, but there is also water above the spring. The run is also 2-3 feet deep near the spring, and was densely covered with a variety of vegetation on date of visit (October 2000).

Use/Access

Personal Impressions Nearby Springs: Other Nearby Natural Features
Leon County Sinks Park
Apalachicola National Forest
Wakulla Spring State Park
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
 
 


Natural Bridge Spring
Leon County

Summary of Features
Scale'”1st magnitude
Scenery'”Outstanding
How Pristine?'”very pristine
Swimming'”none
Protection'”good
Crowds'”none
Access'”none/private
Facilities'”very good nearby

Quick Directions
From Tallahassee, take U.S. 319 south to State Road 363 (Woodville Highway) south to Natural Bridge Road east to Natural Bridge. Spring is nearby just south of the natural bridge.

Full Directions
The area is a swampy confusion of riversinks and upwellings. What appears to be a spring boil just past the monument and closed off by fence (in front of the house) may be a river upwelling. Once you pass the Natural Bridge monument and the fenced-off house on the right, stop just before the small bridge. On your right is a tall chain-link fence. Go to about 30 feet before the fence stops and look through the fence at the clear water to the south. You will see fast-moving, clear water that forms the end of the run of Natural Bridge Spring. The mucky land around the spring is private property. The spring likely feeds St. Marks Spring and the St. Marks River.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as  weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
The spring and its run are clear, lush, and primeval in appearance. The run and the springhead are about 40 feet wide. The vent is at the back of the 800-foot run, forming a pool approximately 40 feet deep in clear water. The run is 4-15 feet deep, flows swiftly, and is surrounded by heavily vegetated, swampy floodplain.

Use/Access

Local Springiana Personal Impressions
The powerful flow of the spring'™s clear water is evident even through a fence 100 feet away and is a stark contrast to the murky, stagnant water of the upper St. Marks River just a few feet away. To get a real view of the springhead, one must get permission from the landowners surrounding it. JF was only able to photograph the spring pool from a distance through branches, and that was after walking through mud for 15 minutes and surprising the moccasin.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
St. Marks Wildlife Refuge
Wacissa River/Slave Canal
Apalachicola National Forest
Econfina River State Park
Leon County Sinks Park
Wakulla Spring State Park
 
 

Newport (or Sulfur) Spring
Wakulla County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”poor
How Pristine?'”remnant of manmade pool around spring; land cleared near spring, dam
Swimming'”fair
Protection'”little
Crowds'”busy on warm weekends
Access'”good
Facilities'”none
Safety'”fair-good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”free

Directions
From downtown Tallahassee, go south on Monroe Street which becomes State Road 363 or Woodville Highway. Turn left on State Road 267. After four miles, turn left on U.S. 98. Turn left on dirt road just at Outz's Oyster Bar, just before the bridge over the St. Marks River. Spring is at small bridge 0.9 miles north.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as  weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
Newport Spring emanates from beneath the bridge and flows 0.3 miles to the St. Marks River. The spring pool is formed by the remains of an old wooden dam and flume and is approximately 40 by 100 feet. Water depth is up to 5 feet. The water is clear and has a pronounced sulfurous smell. A ramshackle house sits adjacent to the spring.

Use/Access
Used by local residents for swimming, wading, picnicking, and hanging out. A live oak hangs a huge limb out over the boil, with a rope for swinging out over the water. There is some trash in the water and on the banks.

Local Springiana

Personal Impressions
While a pretty little spot, the spring has only a small area that might be used for swimming and the land around it is has been clear-cut. The odor of the sulfur in the water takes some getting used to. JF'™s children held their noses, complained loudly, and refused to get into the water when they visited. The site is popular with locals, who give strangers unfriendly looks. It is very difficult to conceive that this site was once a toney spa.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Wakulla Springs State Park
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
Apalachicola National Forest
Wacissa River/Slave Canal
Econfina River State Park
Leon County Sinks Park
 
 

Panacea Mineral Springs
Wakulla County

Summary of Features
Scale'”4th magnitude
Scenery'”fair
How Pristine?'”remnants of concrete, wood, and brick structures around vents
Swimming'”none
Protection'”fair
Crowds'”none
Access'”excellent
Facilities'”none
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”none
Cost'”free

Directions
From Tallahassee, take U.S. 319 south to U.S. 98 west to Panacea. After passing the first big turn into Panacea and a little diner on the right, turn right into the springs entrance immediately after crossing a culvert over a slough. Look for a large sign on the right for the springs.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as  weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
There are at least seven small springs on the site, in a marshy area near Dickerson Bay. Some appear as potholes; at least three have a clear flow into a nearby creek that flows under U.S. 98 into Dickerson Bay. Six of the springs have the remnants of concrete structures around them, vestiges of their use in the early 1900s as a spa to which people traveled to seek cure in the mineral waters. One spring, encircled by brick, has the remnants of a stump in it. The stump had been hollowed, and pressure forced water through the stump in a small fountain. The banks of the creek have at least twenty small- to-middling seeps that are visible at low tide'”see rough drawing below for locations of the springs. The largest of the seeps is near U.S. 98 on the north bank and has a volume of perhaps one gallon per second.

Use/Access

Local Springiana Personal Impressions
Even with some restoration, the site is not attractive. However, it is a very interesting little cluster of springs and historically significant. The town is named for the springs. Before students began their restoration, the site was so overgrown that even established residents (those who moved to Panacea after the park closed in the 1970s) did not know it was there. With precise directions in hand JF drove by it several times before seeing the way in. The nearest spring (one in the slough) is less than 30 feet from U.S. 98.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Mashes Sands Beach
Apalachicola National Forest
Shepherd Spring
Leon County Sinks Park
Wakulla Spring State Park
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
 
 

An Essay on Mashes Sands Beach
The Florida Big Bend is not known for its beaches. This huge arc of coastline from Tarpon Springs to Apalachicola extends nearly 300 miles, but is mostly characterized by marshes, swamps, and deltas. The main road along the coast, Highway 19/98, usually stays 20 miles inland, keeping out of the muck. The several beaches along this stretch are mostly boggy, buggy affairs, which has shielded them from heavy development and hordes of "tourists covered in oil," as the song goes.

Most folks reckon the decent beaches begin at St. George Island and don'™t really get good until you hit the clear water and crystalline sand west of Mexico Beach. But there is a fine and little-visited beach just 45 minutes from Tallahassee and Perry. Actually, I suppose it depends on one'™s meaning of "fine." If your definition includes nice sand dunes and sunning, a picturesque location, solitude, and lots of wildlife, this is the place for you. If, however, you need a hotel nearby, sparkling restrooms, and don'™t care to walk more than 30 feet from your car, then turn your radio dial and listen to Paul Harvey for the next two minutes.

The beach is Mashes Sands, located just east of the hamlet of Ochlockonee Bay. From Tallahassee, take U.S. 319 south to U.S. 98. Go west on 98 past Panacea, and turn left at the caution light just before the bridge at Ochlockonee Bay. Now, instead of making the reflexive right into Angelo'™s Restaurant, keep going 3 miles until the road ends at the beach. Cinderblock beach homes line the coast, and the pine and oak scrub gives way to marsh as you approach land'™s end.

Theoretically, it costs $0.50 to get in, but there'™s rarely anyone to take your money. So, park your car, step out, and feast your eyes on . . . a steep, ugly, narrow beach cluttered with rocks and concrete chunks; anemic mucky waves; green slime on the shoreline; and sandspurs at your feet. Behind you is a bathroom with broken pipes and doors and a makeshift shower. Sound wonderful? Now you know why it'™s never crowded!

But don'™t leave! Not only do most folks not know about Mashes Sands, but those who do miss the good part, which is just 150 yards away. Gather your children and gear, turn left, and walk north to where a marshy inlet flows into the gulf. Here is the real beach'”a lovely little cove framed by dunes and carved by forceful tides. There are large dunes, islands in the surf, and terrific wading in the clear, sandy, tidal flats. Kids, adults, and dogs can explore for hours and hunt blue, horseshoe, fiddler and hermit crabs, catch fish, dig holes, or just take in the sun.

The inlet is still a wild place; you'™re as likely to see a great blue heron as you are to see another person. At low tide you can walk out into the Gulf as far as a quarter mile and find whelks, clams, conchs, oysters, and other critters. Pipers, plovers, and gulls mass nearby, and we saw pilot whales on our last visit. Cross the inlet, which can be from 1-4 feet deep depending on the tide, and see first-hand how tide, wind, and storms shape the coast. Erosion undercuts the pines, first making them look like they are standing on rooted stilts, and finally killing and toppling them onto the beach.

In this little cove, you can do a lot or you can do a lot of nothing. There is usually a breeze, so no-see-ums and biting flies are not a problem. If you go in the summer, you'™ll likely observe and enjoy the afternoon phenomenon of watching dark clouds build overhead, then miraculously pass by and dump their rain inland. When you'™ve had your fill of sand and sun--and it you'™ve brought a change of clothing--you can shower, get dressed, and have dinner at a restaurant back in Ochlockonee Bay.

Mashes Sands Beach is not Waikiki or even Grayton, of course. But if you think you have to drive for 5 hours roundtrip to find a nice beach, this lovely spot may change your mind.
 
 



Rhodes Springs
Leon County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”fine
How Pristine?'”remnants of flume in run and adjacent to dirt road, otherwise very unspoiled
Swimming'”none
Protection'”fair
Crowds'”none
Access'”very good
Facilities'”none
Safety'”good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”free

Directions
From Tallahassee, take U.S. 319 south to State Road 363 (Woodville Highway) south to Natural Bridge Road east toward Natural Bridge. Turn right at Old Plank Road; springs are on the immediate right.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as  weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
Rhodes is a pair of two small and attractive springs that lie in a fringe of dense forest adjacent to an area of extensive logging. Rhodes is a spring-sink combination or Karst Window (see below). The two springs well up from crevices about 100 feet apart. Each upwelling creates a small pool and run. After 50-75 feet, the two runs join, then flow for another 200 feet before disappearing into a sink at the edge of the road. If viewed from the air through the canopy of trees, the springs system would look like a "Y." The run is about 10 feet wide and a few feet deep except at the vents and the sink. There is evidence of an old log flume in the run, which ends at the edge of Old Plank Road. There is a gentle counterclockwise swirl of water going down into the sink. The water has been clear every time the authors visited. It can have a green tinge because it is canopied and there is abundant vegetation and some algae in the water. Just beyond the springs is a small sink, and just beyond that is Natural Bridge Road.

Note: Based on new classification system by hydrologists, Rhodes is now characterized as a "karst window" (where the rise and sink of water from the Floridan Aquifer is visible) and not a spring.

Use/Access

Local Springiana Personal Impressions
The appearance of the end of the short spring run just a few feet off Old Plank Road is surprising'”almost startling. The run simply ends right at the road, and it looks as if the road is a manmade impediment.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
St. Marks Wildlife Refuge
Wacissa River/Slave Canal
Apalachicola National Forest
Econfina River State Park
Leon County Sinks Park
Wakulla Spring State Park
 
 

Riversink Spring
Wakulla County

Summary of Features
Scale'”1st magnitude
Scenery'”fair
How Pristine?'”access area at spring end; unspoiled
Swimming'”fair
Protection'”good
Crowds'”none
Access'”none'”private land
Facilities'”none
Safety'”poor
Scuba'”not allowed
Cost'”free

Directions
From Tallahassee, take U.S. 319 south to Wakulla County. Turn left (east) on first dirt road past the Riversink gas station/convenience store. Take next left (north) and then next left (west). Path to spring is on the left at the barbed wire fence and numerous "No Trespassing" signs and about 150 yards from Kini Spring.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as  weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
Riversink is a karst window, or spring/sink combination about 300 feet long and 100 feet wide. The area surrounding the site is thick forest. Only the "spring" end is cleared, and the water was a dark blue with poor visibility on the date of visit (1997). The surface of the "sink" end of the site was covered with flotsam that had flowed and collected there. The spring is very near, and very similar in size and composition to, Kini Spring.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
JF trespassed to get to the spring, which is around the corner from Kini. The headspring area had been cleared, and 3-4 inebriated young gentlemen were discharging firearms at bottles they threw into the air. As JF was there with a young daughter, he stayed only long enough to photograph the site. It appeared there was another path to the spring from the southern or eastern side.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Leon County Sinks Park
Wakulla Spring State Park
Apalachicola National Forest
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
 
 


St. Marks Spring
Leon County

Summary of Features
Scale'”1st magnitude
Scenery'”fine
How Pristine?'”dock and cleared land near spring
Swimming'”very good, excellent snorkeling
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”very small
Access'”only by boat; very strenuous
Facilities'”none
Safety'”good
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”free

Directions
From downtown Tallahassee, go south on Monroe Street which becomes State Road 363 or Woodville Highway. Turn left on State Road 267. After four miles, turn left on U.S. 98 and proceed to point where the highway crosses the St. Marks River. A boat launch is on the NE side of the bridge. Put in boat and go 6+ miles upriver to the St. Marks Spring/river rise.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as  weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
The spring is a river rise of the St. Marks River and also contains substantial flow from several nearby springs. Water flows from beneath a large limestone shelf from a depth reported to be about 85 feet (Rosenau et al., 1977, p. 241-2). The spring pool is nearly 100 feet in diameter, and water flows from the spring around an island. Water in the pool was clear to about 18 feet on date of visit (May 2001) and blue-green in color. No boil was visible, and the spring looked like a bottomless pit with sunlight shafting into it.

Except for a partially cleared area above the spring, land around the spring is dense hardwood and floodplain forest. There is an old dock at the spring, but no other structures were visible. Along the edges of the basin and downstream of the spring, the St. Marks River is thick with eel grass, hydrilla, elodea, and other water plants. The area is abundant with fish, birds, and other wildlife. The spring flow'”the fifth greatest on average of any Florida spring system, likely contains the water from the upper part of the St. Marks River as well as flow from both Horn and Natural Bridge Springs. It may also contain water from Rhodes and some of the other unnamed springs/sinks in the Natural Bridge area.

Use/Access

Local Springiana Personal Impressions
The authors had wanted to get to this spring for many years, but were not able to obtain permission from landowners who live near the spring basin until May 2001. The river'™s flow is fairly strong, so only canoeists with excellent strength and stamina can make the upriver trip from the public boat ramp at Newport.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Leon County Sinks Park
Wakulla Spring State Park
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
Apalachicola National Forest
Wacissa River/Slave Canal
Econfina River State Park
 
 

Unnamed St. Marks Sulfur Spring #1
Wakulla County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”very good
How Pristine?'”next to crumbling dock, infested with exotic vegetation
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”none
Access'”difficult, water only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”free

Directions
From downtown Tallahassee, go south on Monroe Street which becomes State Road 363 or Woodville Highway. Turn left on State Road 267. After four miles, turn left on U.S. 98 and proceed to point where the highway crosses the St. Marks River. A boat launch is on the NE side of the bridge. Put in boat and go 5+ miles upriver. The spring is on the left (west) side of the river, on the edge of the river, about 50 yards before a substantial widening of the river, and about 100 yards before (south of) utility wires that cross the river. The spring is about 1 mile south of the river rise/St. Marks Spring.

Spring Description
The spring is on the edge of the river amid heavy aquatic vegetation in a small alcove about 12 feet in diameter. Water flows from an indeterminate depth to create a visible boil on the surface amid thick hydrilla or elodea. The depth is probably around six feet, based on the depth of the surrounding river. The spring boil is about 3 feet across, and the water is clear with a fairly strong sulfur smell. There are white deposits on the plants at the spring. Land around the spring is thick floodplain forest. There is a dock about 20 feet downstream, with a boardwalk extending over to the spring from it, parallel to the river. This boardwalk was partially collapsed on date of visit in May 2001.

Use/Access
The spring is small and mostly plant-covered. There is no apparent current use, although the adjacent boardwalk suggests it was formerly used for swimming.

Personal Impressions
Landowners near the spring did not know of any name for this spring.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Leon County Sinks Park
Wakulla Spring State Park
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
Apalachicola National Forest
Wacissa River/Slave Canal
Econfina River State Park
 
 



Unnamed St. Marks Sulfur Spring #2
Wakulla County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd or 4th magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”fine
How Pristine?'”infested with exotic vegetation, otherwise pristine
Swimming'”no
Protection'”excellent
Crowds'”none
Access'”difficult, water only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”free

Directions
From downtown Tallahassee, go south on Monroe Street which becomes State Road 363 or Woodville Highway. Turn left on State Road 267. After four miles, turn left on U.S. 98 and proceed to point where the highway crosses the St. Marks River. A boat launch is on the NE side of the bridge. Put in boat and go about 5 miles upriver. The spring is in the riverbed on the right (east) side of the river, amid hydrilla and/or elodea. It is about half a mile downriver of a substantial widening of the river and utility wires that cross the river. The spring is about 1.5 mile south of the river rise/St. Marks Spring.

Spring Description
The spring is a small flow in the riverbed. When visited in May 2001, it formed a small but visible boil in an area of elodea or hydrilla. The boil is about two feet in diameter and is surrounded by the aquatic vegetation. The depth of the vent could not be determined visually because of the plants, but the general depth in the area is 4-6 feet. Water flowing from the spring is clear and has a fairly pronounced sulfur odor. The flow from the spring leaves whitish deposits on the surrounding plants.

Use/Access
No use. Even before it became overgrown with exotic plants, its sulfurous smell would keep most people away.

Personal Impressions
An interesting little spring.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Leon County Sinks Park
Wakulla Spring State Park
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
Apalachicola National Forest
Wacissa River/Slave Canal
Econfina River State Park
 
 


Unnamed St. Marks River Spring #3
Wakulla County

Summary of Features
Scale'”5th magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”fine
How Pristine?'”completely pristine
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”none
Access'”good, water only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”very good
Scuba--no
Cost'”free

Directions
From downtown Tallahassee, go south on Monroe Street which becomes State Road 363 or Woodville Highway. Turn left on State Road 267. After four miles, turn left on U.S. 98 and proceed to point where the highway crosses the St. Marks River. A boat launch is on the NE side of the bridge. Put in boat and go 2+ miles upriver. The spring is a few feet above the bank on the right (east) side of the river. Note: JF found this spring before he began systematically recording spring sites and directions, so the details on this site are reconstructed from memory and are therefore somewhat sketchy.

Spring Description
The spring is located just above the riverbank, which on date of visit (approx. 1996) was about 3 feet above the river in an are of dense floodplain forest. Water flows from a small opening amid the roots of a mature cypress tree. The spring "pool" is about one foot in diameter, and water flows out and trickles into the St. Marks River. Water in the spring is clear, and JF cannot recall whether or not it had a sulfurous smell.

Use/Access
No apparent use. The land was not posted, but JF was told is owned by St. Joseph Paper.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Leon County Sinks Park
Wakulla Spring State Park
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
Apalachicola National Forest
Wacissa River/Slave Canal
Econfina River State Park
 
 

Sally Ward Spring
Wakulla County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd magnitude
Scenery'”fair
How Pristine?'”near road and cleared land; otherwise unspoiled
Swimming'”none
Protection'”excellent
Crowds'”none
Access'”excellent
Facilities'”excellent
Safety'”good
Scuba'”not allowed
Cost'”free

Quick Directions
One block east of intersection of State Roads 61 and 267 in Wakulla Springs State Park about 30 minutes' drive south of Tallahassee.

Full Directions
From downtown Tallahassee, drive south on South Adams until it becomes Crawfordville Highway (US 319 South). Continue past Capital Circle until the road forks to the left and forms Wakulla Springs Road (State Road 61). Continue on through portions of the Apalachicola National Forest until you come to State Road 267. Turn left for a few hundred feet and then right into the entrance of Wakulla Springs State Park. About 100 yards past the entrance is a small bridge. The spring is at the bridge on the left.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as  weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
The spring pool area is bordered by swamp on two sides and joined by the flow from nearby Indian Springs. The oblong pool area is perhaps 30 feet across and forms a run that flows for more than half a mile into the Wakulla River. According to Rosenau et al. (1977, p. 416) the spring discharges from a shelf under the road that leads to a cave of unknown depth and distance. The water can be choked with exotic vegetation. Alligators are sometimes seen in the spring, the clarity of which varies from clear blue to murky.

Use/Access

Local Springiana Personal Impressions
It is a pleasant walk from the Wakulla Springs Lodge to the spring, but the site is not very scenic. It is easier to simply pull over when driving into or out of the park and look at the spring from the bridge or a viewing spot at the end of the trail.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Leon County Sinks Park
Apalachicola National Forest
Wakulla Spring State Park
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge

Contact Information
Wakulla Springs State Park
550 Wakulla Park Drive
Wakulla Springs, FL 32305
840-224-5950
 
 

Shepherd Spring
Wakulla County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”outstanding
How Pristine?'”completely pristine and unspoiled
Swimming'”not recommended
Protection'”excellent
Wildlife'”excellent
Crowds'”none
Access'”strenuous by foot, canoe, or bike
Facilities'”none
Safety'”fair
Scuba'”not recommended
Cost'”free

Quick Directions
Land access'”from the Florida Trail near Wakulla Beach (off U.S. 98 between Newport and Medart)'”walk or bike about 4 miles each way.
Canoe access'”from Wakulla Beach, go west from beach and immediately (after about 1/4 mile) north into the West Goose Creek estuary.   A large T-junction in the estuary, stay to the left and in the main channel.  Continue in main channel all the way to the spring run entrance (about 1.75 miles or so) when cypress trees begin to grow along the channel, which is now only about 25 feet wide.  continue another 3/4-1 mile to the spring.  Note:  It is best to time enter the estuary/West Goose Creek Estuary in the last hour before high tide so that one can ride the tide in and then out on the way back.

Full Directions
From Tallahassee, take Woodville Highway (State Road 363) south to U.S. Highway 98 and turn right (west).  Continue a short distance and cross the bridge over the Wakulla River. Continue 1.3 miles to Wakulla Beach Road, on your left (south).  Go down this white dirt road almost exactly one mile to the Florida Tail on both sides of the road.  Pull over to the right and park.  The trail going west from here is like a grass-covered dirt road, with a gate to block vehicular traffic.  Yellow rectangles painted on trees  mark the trail.

The trail goes straight through a canopy of hardwoods, pines, and sabal palms.  Cross a few wooden bridges and pass a deer stand on the right before coming to another road heading south, that dead-ends into the one you are on.  This point is 1.7 miles from Wakulla Beach Road.  Straight ahead is a brown sign in the middle of the path that says "No vehicles past this point."  Go just past the sign and look left for a smaller trail that forks off at an angle towards the southwest.  On each side of the trail, a tree is painted with a red rectangle.  A small sign on a post identifies the Florida Trail and says that Wakulla Beach Road is 1.7 miles in the other direction.

This path becomes narrow and winds under a dense canopy of hardwoods, towering pines, and sabal palms, following the red paint marks ("blazes") on the trees.  Bamboo-like plants grow in profusion.  Here and there, narrow boardwalks are built over wet areas. Eventually, you will cross another grassy dirt road.  This road dead-ends into the woods a short distance south.  If you take it north, you run into the wide section of the Florida Trail that you were on before you took the narrow path.  If it is getting dark, you might want to take this route back, just stay to the right whenever you come to a fork.

Cross the road and follow the trail marked with red paint on the trees on the other side. Almost immediately, you will come upon a fork in the trail and see a tree marked with both blue and red paint. Take the blue (left, south) fork to the spring.

Description
The spring lies in deep woods of pine, palm, and hardwoods.  The area is low and subject to flooding in periods of heavy rain. The spring run level is influenced by the tide.  The pool, which is completely canopied, is oval and about 60 by 80 feet across.  There was a strong boil visible on September 21, 2002, with a 10-foot spread and emanating from a limestone opening (about 2 feet across) that appeared to be about 18 feet deep.  This main flow is in the back center of the pool when one enters from the spring run.  A second boil--much milder and small, was observed in the other side of the pool.

On previous visits, the bottom was not as clear and had more fallen limbs in it.  Water color and clarity varies, and has been
clear and bluish, and greenish the times the authors visited.  Many fish, including medium-sized gar, and a very large alligator
were observed on two of the visits; neither were seen when the site was visited in September 2002.  On this date, a natural
runoff channel or backwater entered the back of the spring pool.  The channel was about 20 feet across and perhaps 6 feet
deep where it entered the spring pool.  As it retreated from the spring pool, it became more shallow and narrow.  Water in this
channel was tannin in color and was clearly not spring flow.  On a previous visit, this channel was dry.  The authors only
explored the backwater channel a short distance, due to the aggressive and intimate attention they received from mosquitoes in
the channel.

Water exits the spring pool into two runs that flow around a swampy area before joining in the main run.  The main run is 20-35
feet wide and was about 1-foot deep on date of visit in September 2002.  The bottom is mostly sandy.  The run flows through
thick, undisturbed semitropical coastal forest/jungle that includes hardwoods and groves of sabal palms.  A variety of waterfowl
may be seen in the spring run and the estuary.

Use/Access

Local Springiana
When visited in 1999, the spring was "owned" by a large alligator, who stayed underwater for over 45 minutes.

An Essay on Shepherd Spring
Having visited nearly 300 of Florida's springs and studied all I can about the rest, it is always exciting to hear about a new one for the first time. George Blakely, an FSU art professor and killer canoeist, told me about a spring along the Gulf coast in Wakulla County, and I had never heard or read of it. When he offered to take me there, I jumped at the chance.

Shepherd Spring can be reached by land or canoe, but both methods require good directions and planning around the tides and the weather. When visiting this hidden Big Bend wonder, the largest part of the adventure is the journey itself. The spring is located in the western end of the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, west of Wakulla Beach off U.S. 98 between Newport and Medart. Wakulla Beach Road heads south off 98. Park where the dirt road crosses the Florida Trail and head west on the trail, following the yellow blazes on the trees.

After walking or biking 1.7 miles through a forest of pines, hardwoods, and sabal palms, pass the sign that says "No vehicles beyond this point." Turn left or south on a smaller trail marked with red blazes. This path leads in turn to the blue-blazed spur that dead-ends at Shepherd Spring. Altogether, it's at least two hours each way on foot. The trail is in a swampy area, so go during the dry season unless you enjoy wading in waist-deep water.

Doesn't sound appealing? Well, the other route is to put a canoe in at Wakulla Beach. Just west of the beach is the mouth of an estuary that is popular with fishermen, crabbers, and oyster hunters. Head north into the estuary.

It is vital that you time your trip with the tide. The water is shallow, and at low tide the route is not navigable. There are also huge oyster beds that could damage a canoe or slice you to ribbons. It is best to paddle in during the last hour or two of the incoming tide. Doing so will also allow you to head back out with the tide while the water is still up. On the day we went, we had a late start and had to work twice as hard in the shallow water.

The scenery is excellent, and as you thread your way in, trending NW, all signs of civilization disappear and you are in primeval territory. Bald eagles, osprey, and vultures circle overhead, herons of all types abound, and there are alligator trails in the mud. Mullet, crappie, and blue crabs shoot by, and the marsh grass is alive with innumerable waving and scuttling fiddler crabs.

The water clears as you approach the spring run. After about 1.5 miles, you'll reach the run in a back corner of the estuary. The narrow creek winds its way into the woods and is completely canopied. Because we missed the tide, the run was shallow and required us to port the canoes at least 15 times. Wear old shoes and watch for moccasins. After about 2/3 of a mile, the run widens and then opens into the milky blue springhead.

Shepherd Spring is circular, about 80 feet across, and at least 25 feet deep. Gar circled slowly in the water like sentries making their rounds. George said the spring had a large resident gator, but we did not see it'”we also didn't go swimming. After eating lunch, we walked around to scout the area. We had been there about 45 minutes when George spied the gator and gave a shout. It was underwater on a ledge about 15 feet down, and it had been there the entire time. Gray sand had settled on it, and it looked like a giant concrete statue. We estimated its size at about 10 feet'”it was a full-grown bull and this was his spring.

Paddling out was a chore in the low water, and we often had to drag the canoe. However, it was worth it to see such a wild and remote spot only 30 miles from the state capital. Check your rain gauge and tide tables and try it yourself. A bicycle is the fastest route, but canoeing provides the best adventure.

Personal Impressions
Only a small percentage of springs remain in a pristine state; Shepherd Spring is one of them.  Its remoteness and location within the national wildlife refuge have protected it from the casual despoiler'”those who are willing to go to such lengths to see it are unlikely to be despoilers.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Apalachicola National Forest
Leon County Sinks Park
Wakulla Spring State Park
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
 
 

Spring Creek
Wakulla County

Photo/scanned map from Rosenau p. 450

Summary of Features
Scale'”1st magnitude
Scenery'”very good to outstanding
How Pristine?'”adjacent to docks and buildings; otherwise unspoiled
Swimming'”poor to fair, fine snorkeling
Protection'”excellent
Wildlife'”very good
Crowds'”none
Access'”very good; only by boat
Facilities'”fair
Safety'”good
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”$3 launch fee, $13 canoe rental fee

Directions
From Tallahassee, take U.S. 319 south to State Road 267. Turn left (SE), then turn right (south) on State Road 365. Take until it dead-ends at the village of Spring Creek. Turn east (left) on Ben Willis Road, just in front of Spring Creek Restaurant, and follow ¼ mile to the end where there is a large modern house on stilts and a parking area. The office is on the left side of the house, on the first floor. If no one is in the office, climb to the top and ring the doorbell. The owner, Hal Council, rents canoes'”four hours for $13. You can put in your own boat here for $3. For directions to individual springs, see the descriptions below.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as  weather conditions at these springs, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Descriptions
An number of submarine springs'”at least a dozen, perhaps more'”lie along a one-mile estuarine stretch of Spring Creek. Spring Creek, which begins approximately two miles north of this section, empties into Oyster Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The surrounding land is a combination of shore development (permanent and vacation homes, boathouses, buildings) and pristine marshland and is tidally affected. The springs are in the main channel, along its edges, and in side pools and inlets that have been extended into manmade channels for boats to reach Spring Creek from houses in the neighborhood.

According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (Stevenson & Rupert, 2000), the combined flow from the 8 identified and other unidentified springs in Spring Creek exceeds 2,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). This output is nearly 250% greater than any other single spring or spring group in Florida and is equivalent to more than 1.25 billion gallons a day.

Rosenau et al., whose 1970s measurements are still used for the discharge of springs in Spring Creek, accounts for 893 cfs (or about 44%) of the total spring flow in Spring Creek as coming from the Stuart Cove area of the Spring Creek estuary. None of the 9 springs described below are in Stuart Cove, and Rosenau et al. do not describe a single spring in this area. There would have to be several very large springs feeding Stuart Cove to produce such an abundance (nearly 600 million gallons per day) of water, yet there are only two known spring in Stuart Cove, and their flow is not that large.

Wildlife observed near the springs included mallards, cormorants, mullet, swifts, osprey, gulls, pelicans, and swallows. No-see-ums (sand flies) were felt but not observed. Most of the land adjacent to the Creek consisted of saltmarsh cordgrass, although cypress and hardwoods line the eastern banks in the northern section of this spring area.

An excellent overall description of this area is provided by Lane (2001):

The Spring Creek Springs Group is comprised of at least 13 submarine springs situated in the mouth of Spring Creek and adjacent Stuart Cove, along the Gulf of Mexico coastline in Wakulla County, Florida.  Combined flow of the group is about 2,000 cubic feet per second.  The springs are fed by conduits, likely developed along fractures in the underlying carbonates.  Analysis of local fracture trends suggests that one surface water source of the spring flow is Lost Creek, a stream captured by a sinkhole about six miles northwest of the springs.  Regional groundwater of the Floridan aquifer system also supplies a portion of the total spring flow.  Seismic surveys and depth-recorder profiles were conducted across 12 of the springs.  The springs' cross-sectional profiles show them to be cone-shaped sinks, typical of springs developed in Florida karst.  Water chemistry date collected at nine of the springs showed variation suggestive of mixing and possibly differing surface and groundwater sources for the springs.  All the springs exhibit pulsating flow, alternating surges of boiling surface turbulence caused by rapidly upwelling water, followed by relatively quiescent flow.  This suggests that the complex comduit system supplying the springs may be influenced by local recharge events and by tidal surge (p. 1).
The following numeric designations correspond to the above map and are derived from Lane and using his numbering system.

#1--Spring Creek Rise: From the boat ramp, turn right (north) into Spring Creek and proceed about 350 yards to the point where State Road 365 dead-ends at the water. The spring is directly in front of a 75-foot dock paralleling the water and is just a few feet offshore. There is a seawall behind the floating dock.

In the authors'™ three visits, the spring has had very different appearances. During a visit in the mid-1990s, the spring had a strong boil about 35 feet in diameter. The boil rose several inches above the general water surface and flowed in surges. In 1999, the spring was observed reversing at high tide and was fringed with trash/garbage drawn to the mild vortex. In October 2000 and again in fall 2002, during a low tide, no flow was visible. The spring has been measured at 100 feet deep. Visibility is about three feet.  According to Lane, it is possible to see a limsetone ledge during times of very low water.  He also notes that "several round, karst pipes were noted in the limestone that floors the shallow stream bed surrounding the spring's basin; they were about one foot in diameter and were filled with dark sediment" (p. 17, 2002).

Spring Creek #2 is approximately 175 yards upriver from Spring #1.  Continue a short distance up Spring Creek, then keep to the right into a channelized spring run fringed with homes and boathouses.  Once in the side channel, a large upwelling will be visible toward the left side just before a fork in the channel.  The spring is large (20-25 feet in diameter) with a powerful boil at low tide.  The force of the flow requires steady paddling to hold a canoe over it.  Note: on date of visit (October 2000), there were two partially submerged boats in this channel a short distance below the spring; the vent could be seen from the submerged boats. Another wrecked boat was against the shore behind the spring.  Water was only about 3 feet deep at the fringes of the spring, but the depth, size, and shape of the orifice could not be determined from the surface.  According to Lane, the basin for this spring is the largest of any in the Spring Creek group, and it is 90 feet deep (2002, p. 17)

The flow of this spring suggests that it is of first magnitude'”at least 64.6 mgd. Visibility was three feet.  On dates of visit, a mature cypress tree just behind the spring had a large nest'”a nest most likely used by an eagle or an osprey.  An osprey was sighted in October 2000.

Spring Creek #3 is near #2 and further in the same channel. At the aforementioned fork in the channel, take the right fork and paddle perhaps 100 feet around to the left to the pool for spring #3.  On first date of visit (October 2000), this fork was nearly blocked by a large moored boat; there was only space for a small boat or canoe to transit (it was not blocked in 2002).  The spring pool is circular and about 60 feet in diameter.  There is a visible boil line that suggests a long and narrow fissure that goes across the basin. There is a concrete wall around the back of the spring, suggesting it may have been used in the past as a bathing or swimming area.  As with Spring #2, visibility was limited and the depth of the vent or vents could not be determined.  At low tide, the spring had a strong boil, but not as pronounced as that of Spring #2. The flow from this spring appears to be of high second magnitude or low first magnitude.  According to Lane, this pool floor of this spring drops sharply to a depth of 40 feet (p. 17, 2002).

Spring Creek #4 is almost directly offshore from the dead-end of State Road 365 in lies in the middle of Spring Creek. It was not identified visually on date of visit (October 2000). Its location, marked in Rosenau et al. (1977, p. 450), was pointed out and confirmed by men working on the nearby dock of Lee Spears. However, it could not be seen. The photograph shows the location of this spring.  According to Lane, "the spring's basin appears to be elongated in a NW-SE directoin, with a steep conical pool over its orifice" (2002, p. 17)

Spring Creek #9 is a few hundred feet straight out (WSW) of Spring Creek #1 in the middle of Spring Creek.  It was not visible to the authors on dates of visit, but presented to Lane as a large surface boil 30 feet in diameter and with a depth of 30 feet.  He noted it was the only spring discharging muddy water (2002, p. 17).

Spring Creek #5 is located approximately 150 feet from the Spears dock about 100 yards from Spring #4. It was not visible on date of visit (October 2000).

Spring Creek #6 is about 2/3 mile downstream from Spring #1 in the Spring Creek channel on the left/west side.  The authors could not see a boil or slick for this spring on dates of visit.  Lane notes that the spring "appears to have a relatively small, cone-shaped pool, about 15 feet deep" (2002, p. 17).

Spring Creek #7 is just upriver of Spring #6 and in the center of Spring Creek.  The authors did not see any evidence of its flow on dates of visit.

Spring Creek #10 is about .85 mile downstream of Spring #1.  From the boat ramp, enter Spring Creek and turn downstream (left). Keep near the left shore and travel 300-400 yards, passing a narrow manmade channel on the left. A short distance past this channel is a second channel. Just before the second channel is a channel marker with the number "38" on it. Turn into the second channel, which has a natural basin/alcove formed by Spring Creek #10. The spring is in the back half of the basin, slightly to the left/north of center. At the very back of the basin, another manmade channels extends back NE to the nearby neighborhood. The basin is oval and about 80 by 100 feet in diameter.  Lane notes this spring is 45 feet deep (2002, p. 17).

On dates of visit (October 2000 and fall 2002), at low tide, Spring Creek #10 presented the greatest flow spectacle that the authors have ever witnessed. The boil from the spring was not only plainly visible from a low-to-the-water canoe more than 100 yards away, it was also plainly audible from that distance. The primary boil area was 25 feet in diameter. The flow was always pronounced'”a couple of inches above the general surface'”but at intervals of 6-10 seconds was greatly magnified by eruptions of water up to a foot high and 10-15 feet across. These fluid upheavals made loud rushing and splashing sounds. The force of the flow was such that constant effort was required to hold the canoe over the vent. Visibility at the spring was about three feet, and the depth of the spring could not be ascertained. The flow is certainly first-magnitude'”at least 64.6 mgd.

The intervallic eruption of this spring reminded JF William Bartram'™s 1773 description of Manatee Springs. Bartram'™s words almost perfectly capture what the authors witnessed 227 years later at Spring Creek #10:

We entered the grand fountain . . . The ebullition is astonishing, and continual, though the greatest force of fury intermits, regularly . . . The ebullition . . . subside[s] with the waters at the moment of intermission, gently settling down round about the orifice . . . At those moments when the waters rush upwards, the surface of the basin immediately over the orifice is greatly swollen or raised a considerable height; and then it is impossible to keep the boat or any other floating vessel over the fountain; but the ebullition quickly subsides; yet, before the surface becomes quite even, the fountain vomits up the waters again, and so on perpetually. It is worth noting that Manatee Springs no longer flows as Bartram described it.

Spring Creek #11 is located directly out (SW) in Spring Creek from Spring #6, perhaps 80 yards away. It lies in the middle of the creek. On date of visit (October 2000) it had a very big flow and produced a large (30 foot) spread of slicks at low tide. At high tide, the spring may not be visible. The depth of the vents could not be determined visually.

Spring Creek #8 is a larger alcove/basin that is perhaps 100 yards downstream from the mouth of the basin for Spring Creek #6. The spring basin is perhaps 150 feet in diameter and circular. As with #6, it is surrounded by marsh and reeds. The spring is in the back third of the pool in the center, and has a large and gentle boil. As with the other spring in this area, the water was shallow at the fringes of the vent, but dropped off out of sight near the orifice(s). Visibility was about three feet at low tide. This spring would likely be more difficult to spot in high tide.  Lane notes the spring is 45 feet deep (2002, p. 17).

Spring Creek Springs #s 12-13 are located near the center of Stuart Cove, less than 100 feet apart and with boils that nearly reach each other.  Each creates a large (20-30 foot wide) slick and has sides that drop sharply (Lane, 2002, pp. 17, 19).  The authors have not visited these springs.

Use/Access

Local Springiana Personal Impressions
The authors were astonished and thrilled by the powerful flows they witnessed at Spring Creek. Before witnessing such liquid effusion, they were somewhat skeptical at the flow figures attributed to this springs group.  Their doubts vanished in an hour of paddling.

The authors were equally surprised that Spring Creek #1 was invisible on the same date that Springs 2, 3, 6, & 7 were so obvious. They stood in the canoe at Spring #1, directly over where they had each seen it before (either flowing or reversing), and looked at the calm water for several minutes like a pair of idiots! Spring Creek is must-see for any spring aficionado, but like a box of chocolates, you never know what you will get.

Nearby Springs:

Other Nearby Natural Features
Leon County Sinks Park
Apalachicola National Forest
Wakulla Spring State Park
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge


An Essay on Spring Creek
30 miles and a world away from Tallahassee is a little hamlet on the edge'”of land and sea, of fresh and briny water, and of old and new worlds. It is an unassuming place, within which, most improbably, rises the world'™s largest known concentration of submarine springs.

Spring Creek is due south of Florida'™s capital city. If north really were up, the way it appears on a map, a stone dropped from Tallahassee would land in the Gulf Mexico here. Getting to Spring Creek is a pleasant drive down either Woodville or Crawfordville Highways. Once on U.S. 98, take State Road 365 south until it goes no further'”Spring Creek is literally the end of the road.

Most people who know about Spring Creek do so because they have dined at the Spring Creek Restaurant. This eatery specializes in seafood caught in the nearby creek and bays and hauled into the kitchen from a dock a few yards away. It'™s not a fancy place, but the food is good and there are lots of fiberglass fish on the walls.

Spring Creek was settled by the Spears family'”of Spears Seafood'”and the descendents still live on the site and work the waters for fish. The highway, in fact, stops right in front of a couple of old buildings from the family business. The ramshackle structures give the place an old-timely look. Downscale and upscale homes cluster nearby, accessed by dusty roads. There are also rental properties along the canals that lead into the Creek, as locals call it.

Looking over the water, you may wonder where the creek is; at this point the river forms a marshy estuary and is reminiscent of the South Carolina low country. Beginning a couple of miles inland, Spring Creek is in its final half mile alongside this community named for it. It has saved all its jewels for last, however, so hang a left at the restaurant, rent or put in your boat at the ramp, and start looking for springs.

Go upriver to a dock behind the fence at the end of SR 365. One of the biggest springs in Florida is roiling right beneath you, pushing out perhaps several hundred million gallons a day of fresh water into the murky creek. After storms, this spring can be observed vomiting up plants, freshwater fish, and even garbage from some unknown inland location. At high tide, it reverses and flows backward in a siphon. Former Governor Claude Kirk recently proposed tapping this spring and piping its water to thirstier areas of Florida. The idea was not adopted.

Carry on upstream into the first inlet on the right. Sunken boats lie in the channel; directly behind them and under an eagle'™s nest is another huge spring, spreading a powerful slick 25 feet across. Just to the right around the corner is a third spring in a large canopied alcove.

Downstream, there are two more springs in the creek off the end of the highway, but they are often difficult to spot. While spring hunting, watch for ducks, cormorants, mullet, osprey, gulls, pelicans, and swallows; you may glimpse a bald eagle as well. No-see-ums are also abundant, but are more felt than observed.

Most of the land adjacent to the Creek consists of black needlerush. Look for two manmade channels on the left below the boat ramp. The second channel arrows back from a natural alcove created by a spring that presents the greatest flow spectacle I have ever witnessed.

When I visited at low tide, this spring'™s flow was not only plainly visible more than 100 yards away, it was also plainly audible from that distance. The primary boil area was 30 feet in diameter. The flow was always pronounced'”a couple of inches above the general surface'”but at intervals of 6-10 seconds was greatly magnified by eruptions of water up to a foot high. These fluid upheavals made loud rushing and splashing sounds. The force of the flow was such that constant effort was required to hold the canoe over the vent.

Other springs are downstream'”there are likely at least 14 altogether'”and one can explore for hours in this pristine estuary. This string of submarine springs puts out 1.25 billion gallons of fresh water daily. But be sure to visit at low tide. Visibility in the water is only about three feet, and springs that are titanic at low tide may be invisible when the water is higher.
 
 


Wacissa River Springs
Jefferson County

Photo/scan of enhanced map/table from p. 50-51 Hornsby & Ceryak and then a spring photo

Summary of Features
Scale'”1st magnitude
Scenery'”good to outstanding
How Pristine?'”some completely pristine except for exotic vegetation; others adjacent to land/docks/cleared areas, occasional trash in river
Swimming'”fair to good
Protection'”good
Wildlife'”outstanding
Crowds'”put-in can be crowded on warm weekends, airboats create loud noise
Access'”easy to headwaters, up to extremely strenuous for individual springs
Facilities'”fair
Safety'”fair to good
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”free

Directions
From Tallahassee, take U.S. 27 south and east (toward Perry). Turn right or south onto State Road 59. Drive five miles, through the village of Wacissa, and continue until the road dead-ends at the headwaters.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as  weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Descriptions
Nearly 20 springs form the Wacissa River and lie within the first 1.5 miles of its headwaters. The most current source of information about the springs is Springs of the Aucilla, Coastal, and Waccasassa Basins in Florida by Hornsby & Ceryak (2000, pp. 50-59). The above map is from Hornsby & Ceryak (p. 50), and springs described below derive their names or designations from it. There are four springs within a few feet of the parking area and boat launch ramp:

Just to the left of the boat ramp and slightly behind it is Aucilla Spring. The spring pool is only a few feet deep and is circular and about 35 feet in diameter. When last visited, this pool was entirely choked with exotic vegetation, and no flow was evident. Visitors periodically clear this spring (and others) of vegetation. Hornsby & Ceryak report the spring has two boils and has a third-magnitude flow (2000, p. 59).

Wacissa Spring is 15 feet south of the shore by the diving board and can be identified as a visible boil through the elodea that otherwise surrounds the area. The vent is approximately 20 feet deep and it is the largest of the springs on the river with a first-magnitude flow. Hornsby & Ceryak identified three boils for this spring (2000, p. 52).

Thomas Spring is 300 feet WNW of the boat ramp and wells up in two boils from a crack in the riverbed. Ferguson (1947) reported this vent as being eight feet in diameter and 28 feet deep. Hornsby & Ceryak measured the depth as 17 feet and recorded a second-magnitude flow from the spring (2000, p. 56).

Log Spring is about .1 mile up Horsehead Run behind the dive platform and flows from a large crack in the riverbed. DeLoach reports the pool is up to 25 feet deep (1997, p. 123), and Hornsby & Ceryak measured its depth at 23 feet and a second-magnitude discharge (2000, p. 55).

Horsehead Spring is 0.4 mile back behind the diving board, upriver from the parking area. It is at the very back of the Wacissa, abutting land, and a rotting dock provides a view of the spring which is about 8 feet deep and issues from a small limestone vent with a mild boil. It has a second-magnitude flow.

Hornsby & Ceryak identify another small spring and run that feed the Horsehead Spring run. The authors of this publication have seen the run but not the spring. Designated as Spring JEF312991, it has a third-magnitude flow.

There are two springs downstream of the headwaters on the right or west bank:

Cassidy (or Cassida) Spring consists of two cave openings in a side channel (about 100 feet long) that is easily visible. The channel is about 2,000 feet below the boat ramp. The spring vents are large limestone openings at least 20 feet deep, and there are clear boils for both vents. The spring pool is circular and approximately 75 feet in diameter. When last visited (November 1999), this spring area was completely clear of vegetation (it has probably been cleared manually)'”it was at that time the only spring on the river that was not overgrown with elodea, water hyacinth, or other aquatic vegetation.

The juncture of Jefferson Blue (or Little Blue) Spring run and the Wacissa River is located less than a quarter mile downstream from Cassidy on the same side. Due to very low water (less than 12 inches), heavy exotic plant growth, and numerous fallen trees blocking the 500-foot run on the date of the visit (November 1999), this spring was not accessible. The run is 50-70 feet in width. The spring is reportedly 16 feet deep and has a circular pool 50 feet in diameter.

There are at about a dozen springs on the left or east bank of the Wacissa, including the Little River group:

Allen is the only named spring at the headwaters of Little River, which flows for approximately a mile from at least three springs before joining the Wacissa River about 1/3 of a mile below the parking area. The water near the spring is very shallow and choked with both aquatic vegetation and fallen trees. In two attempts, the author was unable to reach the spring, which is in the most easterly of the channels as one paddles upriver. According to Hornsby & Ceryak, (2000, p. 58), the spring pool is approximately 75 feet wide. The combined flow from these springs constitutes a second-magnitude discharge. The photo below may be the overgrown springhead, or the actual spring may be further back. According to a local resident, two other fingers of Little River also terminate in springs. None was reachable due to shallow water and aquatic growth.

Minnow Spring is the first spring on the west bank of the Wacissa after its confluence with Little River. Minnow is a small vent that is about 8 feet deep and at the end of a plant-choked channel about 150 feet long and 50 feet wide.

Buzzard (or Buzzer'™s) Log Spring is just downriver from Minnow on the same side and right at the mouth of a channel that leads back 1,000 feet to an unnamed spring. It is a small opening about 8 feet deep.

Garner Springs is a pair of springs just downriver from Buzzard Log Spring. A single channel connects the springs with the river. The first spring lies on the left as you paddle in. Look for the clear flow. However, the channel is blocked by trees and vegetation. The second spring is at the back end of the channel, approximately 1/6 of a mile west. It is a circular pool about 30 feet in diameter with a large (4-foot diameter) cypress trunk lying underwater across the vent. The remnant of a small dock is on the northern end of the pool. The water is clear and can be bright blue in the sunlight.

The northern end of the Big Spring or (Big Blue Spring) run is about 300 feet downriver from Garner Springs. The ¼ mile run ends at the large spring and is strong and clear in flow and about 60 feet wide and 4 feet deep. The spring also has a southern run of about the same length, although its dimensions are smaller and it is sometimes blocked by vegetation. The spring pool is circular and over 125 feet in diameter. The bottom is not clearly visible due to aquatic vegetation. Hornsby & Ceryak record that the vent is 31 feet down (2000, p. 52), while Rosenau et al. (1977, p. 195) and DeLoach (1997, p. 125) record the depth as being 45 feet. In 2000 there were two floating platforms in the basin, but no rope swing (there had been one in the past). The spring is popular with swimmers and picnickers. Depending on the water level, season, and available sunlight, the water color varies from deep blue to green. The water is clear. During the 1990s, a larger alligator with a gaff stuck in its back was often observed in the spring.

Rosenau et al., local information, and visual evidence suggest there are additional springs just past the southern run from Big Spring. The authors'™ efforts to locate them have not been successful due to fallen trees, low water levels, and heavy aquatic vegetation that blocked what appear to be spring runs on the east bank. Gainer & Ceryak have reached them and designate them as JEF64991 and JEF63992. Both are described as second magnitude springs that are choked with elodea and other aquatic vegetation (2000, pp. 57, 59). They also describe one more spring that is approximately 2.5 miles south of the Wacissa headwaters and designate this similarly plant-choked second-magnitude spring as JEF63993 (2000, p. 58).

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
The extreme infestation of the Wacissa by exotic plants makes canoeing difficult except in the middle of the river. When visitors take the initiative and clear away the plants from a spring, the difference can be startling. There appears to be no real solution in sight for the problem of exotic infestation in the Wacissa.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Slave Canal
Econfina River State Park
Leon County Sinks Park
Apalachicola National Forest
Wakulla Spring State Park
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
 

An Essay on the Wacissa River
Not 30 minutes east of Tallahassee is a timeless but also disturbed wilderness--the Wacissa River. Reached from U.S. 27 or I-10 via SR 59, the Wacissa's name is of uncertain origin, perhaps from Indians or the Spanish. By whatever name, it is one of the Big Bend's sweetest treasures.

The Wacissa is a clear, spring river--its water from numerous springs at its headwaters and along the first of its 14 miles to the Aucilla River. Cypress trees hug the swampy banks and are joined by maple, oak, magnolia, holly, sweet bay, myrtle, hickory, palmetto, and sweet gum. Snail eggs decorate the lower trunks of many trees.

In the water are bass, mullet, sunfish, bluegill, gar, bowfin, and catfish; fishing is probably the most popular activity on the river. Alligators, turtles, and snakes are also around, and the sharp-eyed observer will see all three on a quiet, sunny day.

Few places offer better opportunities to see large birds. A typical afternoon on the water will reveal egrets; great blue, little blue, tri-color, and green-backed herons; hawks; osprey; and kingfishers. The threatened limkin is fairly common, as is the bald eagle, and I heard an owl my last visit. Migratory ducks pass the winter here, hiding in the spring runs.

The only way to explore the river is by boat. A canoe is best, and the two-knot river can be "done" in two pieces. From the headwaters, there is an easy nine-mile run south to Goose Pasture. A couple of islands offer picnicking and camping spots, and the remains of an old dam provide some mild white water.

From Goose Pasture there is an extraordinary and somewhat nerve-tangling stretch through swamp via a hidden canal built by slaves. The Slave Canal is one of the most scenic and remote canoe trips in Florida. Land along the river belongs mostly to large lumber companies, and they have agreed to leave a buffer of trees along the water. The river is part of the Aucilla Wildlife Management District.

So far so great. Clear water, abundant life, springs, and the whole thing preserved. But it's not that simple. The entire Wacissa watershed was clear-cut in 1930. Logging silted the river and decimated nearly all the Wacissa's wildlife, including panther, bear, bobcat, and the now-extinct ivory-billed woodpecker.

By the 1960s, the river and its inhabitants had recovered a great deal. Then, exotic water plants were introduced. Hyacinth and elodea now choke the entire upper portion of the river. Unless controlled more effectively these invaders may eventually drive out all the native water plants and the animals that depend on them.

On weekends, the put-in is crowded. Boat motors leak fuel into the water, and airboats generate shattering noise. Poaching is common. Garbage mars the river and parking areas, and some locals resent the growing numbers of Tallahasseans on the river.

But nature can recover if given a chance, and the river and the people manage. Except for a few cypress stumps, there is no sign of the timbering. For every jerk who throws trash in the water, someone else will usually pick it up. People clear the channels of hydrilla. There is still incredible beauty and more people who care about the river than trash it.

And when you get away from the crowds, turn off the motor, or pole your way into a spring run, you will be rewarded by serenity and natural grandeur that is so enchanting it has a kind of spiritual grace: I once saw otters cavorting on the Little River run. A bobcat crossed my path on my last visit, and a pair of limkin came within 15 feet of my canoe. And, if you find them, springs sparkle like cerulean jewels in deep forests up crystal-clear runs.

(And by the way, you'll have a much more spiritual experience in the summer if you wear insect repellent.) Go see it for yourself.
 

An Essay on the Wacissa Slave Canal
Named for the slaves who built it, the Wacissa Slave Canal was constructed in an attempt to connect the Wacissa to the Aucilla River so cotton barges could be floated to the Gulf. For several miles below Goose Pasture, the Wacissa diffuses into impassable swamp. It reforms just where the Aucilla River pops up after miles of roller-coastering above and below the surface. The two rivers then join and flow south like lovers who unite after playing the field a while.

In the 1830s and 1840s, African-Americans slaved in the swamp, manhandling limestone boulders out of the muck. The scheme didn'™t work well. The canal was too shallow, and after the Civil War farmers gave up and left Mother Nature to restore the pieces. The hard edges are gone, and somehow the decades of rain, wind and water did not fill in the canal. It remains canoe-able, and except for some boulders on the bank you'™d never suspect it was not a natural waterway.

The trick is finding it. You must know precisely where it is or you are going to have a bad scare day--and maybe night--out there with the mosquitoes, bears, moccasins, and alligators. You see the canal is unmarked. There are no billboards on the Wacissa saying, "Slave Canal exit; eat here and get gas," so get someone to show you the way. The put-in is at Goose Pasture off U.S. 98 about 45 minutes south of Tallahassee. En route, you'™ll cross the Florida Trail and see one of the Aucilla'™s many sinks.

Goose Pasture is a popular campground, but nearly everyone goes upriver to fish; you'™ll likely have the canal to yourself. Push off, move right, and stay there. In four minutes you'™ll be in Little Goose Pasture, as pretty a stretch of river as there is anywhere. The water sparkles and is full of birds, fish, and gators.

Manmade noise disappears utterly. The silence is broken only by birds, turtle splashes, and wind rustling through wild rice in the river. There is no need to paddle--just float and steer for 45 minutes and enjoy the butterflies, flowers, and hummingbirds. Then, look for a river widening ringed with cypress, a big stand of wild rice ahead, and an inviting channel on the left. Take that channel, and you'™ll never be seen again.

Instead, attend to the right. In front of the rice is a ribbon of water flowing through a curtain of branches. Take it. You'™ll be sure you'™re in the wrong place as you pull through vegetation and around switchbacks for five minutes. But if you are right, you will then come round a bend and see the stones. Sitting as if awaiting judgment day, the boulders still line the canal where the black men placed them.

The canal is narrow, shallow, and clear; look down and you'™ll see mullet, gar and other fish making their way up from the Gulf. The canal winds south, probably along the path of an old depression. It is almost entirely canopied, and the deep hardwood forest is laced with arching palmettos.

You'™ll have to do some limbo to get under trees. The frequent turns--and even moreso the stones and the overarching silence--encourage concentration and a somber reflection of what men once forced other men to do here.

Finally other, dirty creeks flow in; the water deepens, widens, darkens. Sounds of a nearby quarry and of vehicles on U.S. 98 spoil the silence, and you'™ll need to paddle up the Aucilla to the takeout near Nutall Rise.

So, are you game--willing to take a risk in unknown territory? If you are, and will accord the river the proper respect for its wild, inhuman, and inhumane beauty, the Wacissa Slave Canal is waiting.
 
 

Wakulla Springs
Wakulla County

Summary of Features:
Scale'”1st magnitude
Scenery'”excellent
How Pristine?'”developed beach/recreation area on one side, structures above spring, beach area, dive/observation tower, dock area and boats, elevated nitrate levels in water; exotics in spring and run
Swimming'”fine, excellent snorkeling
Protection'”excellent
Wildlife'”excellent
Crowds'”very heavy on warm weekends
Access'”excellent
Facilities'”excellent
Safety'”excellent
Scuba'”not allowed except with special permission
Cost'”$3.25 per car; boat rides extra

Quick Directions
One block east of intersection of State Roads 61 and 267 in Wakulla Springs State Park about 30 minutes' drive south of Tallahassee.

Full Directions
From downtown Tallahassee, drive south on South Adams until it becomes Crawfordville Highway (US 319 South). Continue past Capital Circle until the road forks to the left and forms Wakulla Springs Road (State Road 61). Take this left fork. Continue on through portions of the Apalachicola National Forest until you come to State Road 267. Turn left for a few hundred feet and then right into the entrance of Wakulla Springs State Park.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as  weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address:  http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida

Spring Description
Wakulla Spring is one of the world's deepest springs and one of Florida's largest individual springs in terms of average flow.  In terms of flow from a single clear-water spring, perhaps only Silver Springs is larger.  The spring forms the Wakulla River, which flows for three miles within the state park, a few miles further before joining the St. Marks River and ultimately (after 12 miles) into the Gulf of Mexico.  The spring basin covers several acres and is framed by cypress, maples, palms, and other mature trees.  Sally Ward Creek joins the Wakulla run on the north side and also includes the small flow from Indian Springs.

According to Rosenau et al. (1977, p. 418), Wakulla has the greatest recorded flow ever for a single spring (1,910 ft3/sec'”or about 1.23 billion gallons'”one day in 1974).  Its flow has also been as low as 25 ft3/sec, giving Wakulla the distinction of having the greatest range of recorded flow of any spring in the world.

A vast and partially explored cave system feeds the spring.  Underwater or from the air, the basin resembles a giant funnel or water-filled meteor impact.  A two-level concrete dive tower is constructed over a ledge above the cave entrance.  A roped-off area allows swimmers to jump off the tower and swim down or over to the edge of the ledge, which is about 22 feet deep.  The ledge curves around part of the basin, framing the enormous funnel.  The basin below the ledge is 125 feet deep, and it is a total of 285 feet down to the bottom and the entrances to the main conduits that feed the spring.

According to Chalette et al. (2003), the water flowing out of Wakulla Springs is mostly deep-aquifer water, as opposed to water that has recently fallen as rain and been absorbed in a surficial aquifer.  During dry perionds, nearly 100% of the spring's flow originates from the Floridan Aquifer.  During rainy periods, up to 20% of the flow originates from surface water or shallow aquifer water.  Further testing shows that the "apparent" age of water discharged at Wakulla Springs is 39 years (p. 7).

Water clarity is variable, from very clear to dark to the hue of Mountin'™ Dew.  Park officials note that while there is not an accepted explanation for the times the water is murky, the trend has been a decrease over time in the number of days each year that the spring is clear.  The water tends to be cloudy after heavy rain and is slow to clear.  There is abundant wildlife in the spring and its run.  Since it was first observed in 1997, hydrilla spread rapidly in the spring basin and run and covered much of the spring area until 2002.  Algae is also growing more rapidly in the spring, the result (it is suspected) of higher levels of nitrate in the water (Hartnett, 2000).  In April 2002, park official released 1,750 gallons of the herbicide endothall into the spring area.  This treatment killed the hydrilla in the spring area and for a couple of miles downstream.

Use/Access

Local Springiana Another 19th Century chronicler, Charles Lanman, wrote in an 1856 book that Wakulla surpasses Orange and Silver Springs "in every particular" (p. 143), and goes on to say the following:
An adequate idea of this mammoth spring could never be given by pen or pencil; but when once seen, on a bright calm day, it must ever after be a thing to dream about and love.  It is the fountain-head of a river . . . and is of sufficient volume to float a steamboat, if such an affair had yet dared to penetrate this solemn wilderness. . . . It wells up in the very heart of a dense cypress swamp, is nearly round in shape, measures some four hundred feet in diameter, and is in depth about one hundred and fifty feet, having at its bottom an immense horizontal chasm, with a dark portal, from one side of which looms up a limestone cliff, the summit of which is itself nearly fifty feet beneath the spectator, who gazes upon it from the sides of a tiny boat.  The water is so astonishlingly clear that even a pin can be seen on the bottom in the deepest places, and of course every animate and inanimate object which it contains is fully exposed to view.  The apparent color of the water from the shore is greenish, but as you look prependicularly into it, it is colorless as air, and the sensation of floating upon it is that of being suspended in a balloon; and the water is so refractive, that when the sun shines brilliantly every object you see is enveloped in the most fascinating prismatic hues.

 . . . It abounds in fish, both large and small, among which I recognized the black bass, the sea-mullet, and red fish, the bream, the sucker, the chub, and the shiner; and it seems to me that I can now recall every individual to mind as a personal acquaintance.  They at times made the surface of the water alive with their gambols; they swam about their beautiful home in schools and singly, some of them watching our boat with curious looks, and others perfectly indifferent to our presence or movements. . . . It was also very strange to witness the shadow which our little boat case upon the bottom, which seem to be refreshing to some of the fish that floated into it, but was not liked apparently by the alligators and huge tutrles that went crawling along the sub-marine highway.   [G]igantic cypress trees, hoary with moss and heavily laden with vines which hang over the water, were the nests of innumerable water birds, such as the crane, the duck, and the bittern.

Were it not a desecration to do so in such a fairy-like place, fishing with a fly in Wakulla Fountain for black bass and bream, would be superb; and were it not for the developments of science, we might imagine that the mammoth bones which were found in the spring in 1850, were the remains of some primeval angler who had been killed for daring to disturb its beautiful inhabitants. . . . That the ancient Seminoles should have attached a legend to this brightest spot in their domain, was quite natural.  Old men told it to their children at the twilight hour, under their broad palmetto trees.  At night, they said in substance, may be seen around the shores and on the bottom of the fountain, tiny fairy creatures, sporting and bathing with noiseless glee; but at midnight, when the moon is at its full, there appears upon the water a gigantic warrior, sitting in a stone canoe with a copper paddle in his hand, from whose presence the fairies affrighted flee away, leaving, as the last object seen in the darkness of a cloud, the spectre warrior alone in his canoe, which seems anchored and immovable (pp. 143-145).

Personal Impressions
Wakulla is one of the best places there is to go swimming or just hang out.  It is a somewhat curious but somehow very workable combination/juxtaposition of wildlife and development.  The main threats to the area are increasing development (a suspected cause of rising nitrate levels) and invasive exotic plants that  impact the spring and its watershed. The National Geographic mapping project was one step to identify just where all the water is from and how to protect it.

Nearby Springs:

Other Nearby Natural Features Contact Information
Wakulla Springs State Park
550 Wakulla Park Drive
Wakulla Springs, FL 32327-0390
840-224-5950
 
 

Unnamed Spring on Wakulla River #1
Wakulla County

Summary of Features
Scale'”4th magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”very good
How Pristine?'”small platform adjacent to vent; otherwise pristine
Swimming'”no
Protection'”private
Access'”private property

Quick Directions
On a vacant lot just south of the private residents'™ dock in the Mysterious Waters development on the west side of the Wakulla River, 35 minutes'™ drive south of Tallahassee.

Full Directions
From downtown Tallahassee, drive south on South Adams until it becomes Crawfordville Highway (US 319 South). Continue past Capital Circle until the road forks to the left and forms Wakulla Springs Road (State Road 61). Take this left fork. Continue on through portions of the Apalachicola National Forest, crossing over State Road 267, to the junction with County Road 365. Fork left. Drive about one mile, then turn right onto Tiger Hammock, a paved road. Travel 1 mile, then turn left into the Mysterious Waters residential development. The road ends in a t-junction at the residents'™ dock. Turn right. The spring is on the first vacant lot on the left after 3 houses. It is about 150 feet from the road in the middle of the lot.

Spring Description
The spring is in a low floodplain on the west side of the Wakulla River. Water issues from a small cavity at the base of a large tree and forms a bowl that is approximately two feet in diameter and three feet deep at the vent. There is a mild boil over the vent, and small fish and crawfish are visible in the tiny pool. The spring forms a shallow swampy creek, 3-5 feet wide, a few inches deep, that flows SE under the dock of the house immediately to the south and on to the Wakulla River.

Use/Access

Local Springiana Personal Impressions
A cute little spring. The mouth of its run is virtually invisible from the river, leading one to wonder how many more such springs line this and other spring-fed rivers in Florida.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Leon County Sinks Park
Wakulla Spring State Park
Apalachicola National Forest
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
 
 



Unnamed Spring on Wakulla River #2
Wakulla County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”very good
How Pristine?'”very unspoiled
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Wildlife'”excellent
Crowds'”none
Access'”good, canoe only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”free

Directions
From downtown Tallahassee, drive south on Monroe Street out of town. The road becomes Woodville Highway (State Road 363). At junction with U.S. 98, turn left. Park at bridge over the Wakulla River and paddle upriver about 10 minutes. Look on the right (east) for a small (about 24" x 18") white sign by the water that has been extensively used for target practice. The manatee image on the sign was nearly faded out in 2000. The run ends in the spring pool.

Spring Description
The spring is a circular pool about 35 feet in diameter and 4-5 feet deep at the vent. The pool is completely canopied, and the combination of canopy shade and reflection on the water make it somewhat difficult to see the vents that feed it. There are two visible vents, both openings in the limestone that are surrounded by vegetation and algae. Each vent is about 5 feet deep and a couple of feet across. The boils are a few feet apart in the center of the pool. The bottom is covered in algae. Land surrounding the spring is heavily vegetated and swampy on the south side. On dates of visit (1999-2001), there were remains of a fence that had been strung across the spring to prevent access. Water from the spring forms a short (60-70 feet) run to the Wakulla River. In general, visibility is better during low tide.

Use/Access

Nearby Springs Other Nearby Natural Features
Leon County Sinks Park
Wakulla Spring State Park
Apalachicola National Forest
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
 
 



Unnamed Spring on Wakulla River #3
Wakulla County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”excellent
How Pristine?'”completely unspoiled
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Wildlife'”excellent
Crowds'”none
Access'”fair to arduous
Facilities'”none
Safety'”fair to good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”free

Directions
From downtown Tallahassee, drive south on Monroe Street out of town. The road becomes Woodville Highway (State Road 363). At junction with U.S. 98, turn left. Park at bridge over the Wakulla River and paddle upriver about 300 yards, past three houses. Immediately before the spring run, there is the chimney from an old house on the right. A large orange sign cautioning boaters about manatees in the river marks the mouth of the run.

Spring Description
The authors have not reached this spring, which lies at the head of a run of unknown distance that winds its way east of the river. The run is 8-15 feet wide and narrows as one approaches the spring. Logs and tree trunks obstruct the run, which is very shallow in times of drought or at low tide. The land around the spring and run is heavy floodplain/tidal forest.

Use/Access

Nearby Springs Other Nearby Natural Features
Leon County Sinks Park
Wakulla Spring State Park
Apalachicola National Forest
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
 
 



Unnamed (Probable) Spring on Wakulla River #4
Wakulla County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”fine
How Pristine?'”unknown
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Wildlife'”very good
Crowds'”none
Access'”fair to arduous
Facilities'”none
Safety'”unknown
Scuba'”no
Cost'”free

Quick Directions
Crosses under Tiger Hammock Drive ¾ of the way between State Road 365 and Bay Drive, on the west side of the Wakulla River, 40 minutes'™ drive south of Tallahassee.

Full Directions
From downtown Tallahassee, drive south on South Adams until it becomes Crawfordville Highway (US 319 South). Continue past Capital Circle until the road forks to the left and forms Wakulla Springs Road (State Road 61). Take the left fork. Continue on through portions of the Apalachicola National Forest, crossing over State Road 267, to the junction with County Road 365. Fork left. Drive about 2/3 mile, then turn right onto Tiger Hammock, a paved road before the bridge over the Wakulla River. Travel about 1.5 miles on paved road and continue on dirt road another approx. 2 miles to the one-lane bridge over the run.

Spring Description

The authors have not located the spring, which appears to be on private property. At the bridge, the water is clear, about eight feet wide, 1-2 feet deep, and flows east to the Wakulla River. The run appears to enter the Wakulla River just below where power lines cross the river. More specifically, it appears to enter from the west just below the River Plantation boatramp by the northern end of an island just below the River Plantation boatramp.

The clarity of the water, the proximity to Wakulla Springs, and the karst topography of the surrounding area suggests the run is formed by a spring. It is not known how far the head of the run is from the one-lane bridge. The distance from the bridge to the Wakulla River is estimated to be between 1/3 and ½ mile.

Use/Access

Nearby Springs Other Nearby Natural Features
Leon County Sinks Park
Wakulla Spring State Park
Apalachicola National Forest
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge