Part III.
Taylor County and Environs



Taylor County has over 30 springs, including two river rises (Steinhatchee and Nutall) and several submarine springs.  The majority of the springs are small and in rural locales.  Many of the springs are very difficult to reach because they are at the head of long and shallow runs away from roads, in marsh areas, or on private property.  The authors have only visited about half of the Taylor County total.

As is usually the case, the undeveloped springs are generally more attractive than ones that have been impounded or that have houses alongside them.  Several of the springs are badly polluted/trashed, either by people who litter/dump garbage in them or (in the case of springs along the Fenholloway River) by industrial discharge.  Overall, the springs are not as attractive, are more buggy (no-see-ums and mosquitoes), and are in greater need of public stewardship than in other regions.  Hampton Springs has historic significance as a cure site, but is also in great need of protection and care.

Of the springs in this section that they have seen, the authors find Big, Cedar Island, Steinhatchee, Steinhatchee Rise, and Waldo to be the most attractive.  The springs are listed in alphabetical order.
 


 Part III Contents

               Big Spring (with additional springs #1-3)
               Bradley Spring
               Cedar Island Spring
               Dry spring in Fenholloway River
               Eva Spring
               Folsom Spring
               Hampton Spring
               Nutall Rise
               Steinhatchee Rise
               Steinhatchee Spring
               TAY76992
               TAY924991
               TAY924993
               Waldo Spring
                   An Essay on Econfina River State Park
 
 

Big Spring
Taylor County



Summary of Features
Scale—2nd magnitude
Scenery—outstanding
How Pristine?—completely pristine
Swimming—not recommended
Protection—excellent
Crowds—none
Access—somewhat arduous, canoe/kayak only
Facilities—none
Safety—fair-good
Scuba—very difficult
Cost—free

Directions
From the junction of U.S. 27/19 and U.S. 98 in Perry, drive west on U.S. 98 for 4.3 miles.  Turn left (south) onto Highway 356 and continue 7.5 miles to dirt/gravel entrance to the Spring Creek Unit of the Big Bend Wildlife Management Area.  Stay on this road 0.5 miles to ranger/check station and another 3.6 miles to boat launch on Spring Creek.  Paddle upstream (to the left) 2/3 mile to the 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
The spring forms an oval basin that is 100 by 140 feet wide.  Water flows from one or more limestone openings at a depth of 33 feet (Hornsby & Ceryak, 2000).  No boil is visible.  On first date of visit (October 2001), the water was fairly clear and greenish, with visibility of about 20 feet.  Green and brown algae grow profusely on submerged surfaces and plants.  Land around the spring is lush floodplain forest.  At least 20 Florida gar congregated and cavorted in the spring; their lengths varied from 1-2.5 feet.  A heron and kingfisher were also observed from the basin.  On the second date of visit (January 2004), the water much greener, and visibility was less than 3 feet.  On this date, more than a dozen night herons were observed at the springhead, and bird droppings on the trees around the spring suggested it may be a rookery for the herons.

The spring forms Spring Creek, which flows about 2/3 mile to the boat ramp at the Spring Creek Unit of the Big Bend Wildlife Management Area and then another mile to the Gulf of Mexico.  The run transits through several plant communities, from lush floodplain forest to a transition area with sabal palms, cypress, cedar, wax myrtle, and sawgrass; to sawgrass and sabal palm marsh; to black needle rush marsh, and ultimately to the Gulf.  Fiddler crabs may be seen along the shore and in the trees and shrubs on the run.

In the upper communities (the first half-mile of the run), the run is clear, sandy, cool, 1-2 feet deep, and 10-30 feet in diameter.  There are numerous obstructions in the form of submerged logs and overhanging branches.  The run widens, darkens, and deepens as it approached the Gulf and is joined by other inlets.

JF found three other springs along/adjacent to the Big Creek run:

#1  The first is approximately 175 feet east of the boat launch in a small (about 10 feet long and 6 feet wide) alcove.  The spring creates a mild but evident boil on the surface with a diameter of about 3 feet.  A hole in the general bottom could be perceived by signt and paddle at a depth of about three feet.  The hole appeared to be about 18 inches in diameter.

#2  The second spring is about 1/4 mile south of the boat ramp, just off the main channel at the mouth of a smaller channel that enters the main channel from the east.  It lies in the middle of the smaller channel mouth and had a prominent boil--raised 2" above the common surface and with sufficient flow to be audible from 15 feet away.  The tide was somewhat down when the boil was observed.

#3  The third spring is about 30 feet ESE of spring #2 and is set in a small alcove similar to that of additional spring #1.  Because the vent is closer to the edge of the marshland, its flow is somewhat more pronounced to additional spring #1.  Tidal conditions were the same as observed for the other two additional springs.

All three springs would be less visible under high-tide conditions.  In all cases, their flow was clearly visible but did not appear to issue water that was any clearer than the brownish and brackish water around them.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
Despite the effort required to reach the spring, it is a must-see for any spring aficionado.  The difficulty of navigating the run is, in fact, also the reason for the spring’s remaining in a perfectly pristine condition.  It is perhaps the most pristine spring the authors have ever visited except for Ruth Spring in the Chassahowitzka, which is even more difficult to reach.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Econfina River State Park
Wacissa River/Slave Canal
Steinhatchee Falls
Wakulla Springs State Park
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
 
 

Bradley Spring
Taylor County

Summary of Features
Scale—3rd magnitude
Scenery—good-very good
How Pristine?—enclosure around spring, adjacent to cleared area and park
Swimming—no
Protection—good
Crowds—can be heavy on weekends
Access—very good
Facilities—fair
Safety—fair-good
Scuba—no
Cost—free

Directions
In Steinhatchee, from intersection of State Roads 50 and 361, drive north on SR 361 out of Steinhatchee.  After passing entrance on left (west) for the Solid Waste Collection Site, continue another half mile and turn left onto sand road at sign for Bradley Spring and follow to county park and 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
The spring is surrounded on three sides by a brick wall that is two feet high and six feet across.  Water flows from a limestone opening and creates a strong boil.  Flow from the spring forms a creek that flows several miles through jungle, marsh, and eventually to the Gulf of Mexico.  The creek is 3-5 inches deep, and the water is clear and has a pronounced sulfur odor.  Green algae grows in the run.  The land below the creek is dense floodplain/coastal forest.  The area behind the spring has been cleared to create a public park.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
Worth a look, but drive carefully in the sand and be prepared for biting insects in season (January 1-December 31).

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Econfina River State Park
Wacissa River/Slave Canal
Steinhatchee Falls
Wakulla Springs State Park
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
 
 


Cedar Island (or Sandpiper) Spring
Taylor County

Summary of Features
Scale—2nd magnitude
Scenery—fine
How Pristine?—steps to spring and development nearby, but spring very natural
Swimming—good
Protection—very good
Crowds—small
Access—very good
Facilities—poor
Safety—very good
Scuba—no
Cost—free

Directions
From town of Salem, turn west off U.S. 19/98/27A onto Fish Creek Road and drive about 12 miles to State Road 361.  Turn right (north) on SR 361 and drive about 1.5 miles to entrance to Cedar Island development.  Turn left (west) into development.  Take second right onto Egret Lane and follow around left past a house on the right to dock/steps and sign for Sandpiper 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
This submarine spring forms an oval pool approximately 80 by 125 feet in a tidal salt marsh adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico.  The bottom slopes downward from the shore to a depth greater than four feet, which was the limit of visibility at date and time of visit at low tide (evening, February 2001).  No flow was visible.  A wooden walkway and steps lead into the spring from the adjacent parking area, and there are a couple of cedar trees between the spring and the road.

Use/Access

Local Springiana
The sign at the site calls the spring Sandpiper Spring.

Personal Impressions
The spring is in an attractive setting and is very accessible due to the wooden steps into the water.  The authors would like to return on a sunny summer day and snorkel the site, but would need to get permission to do so.

Nearby Springs

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

Dry Spring on Fenholloway River (possible)
Taylor County

Summary of Features
Scale—dry
Scenery—excellent
How Pristine?—some garbage in riverbed, otherwise very natural
Swimming—no
Protection—unknown
Crowds—none
Access—fair
Facilities—none
Safety—unknown
Scuba—no
Cost—free

Directions
From the junction of U.S. 27/19 and U.S. 98 in Perry, drive south and east on U.S. 27 for 5-6 miles.  After passing the turnoff for Highway 30A and the entrance to the Buckeye cellulose plant, drive another mile and then turn right (SE) onto paved road.  Keep to the right and go a short distance to a one-lane bridge over the Fenholloway River.  Proceed on foot to the right (downriver or to the east) in or along the riverbed approximately 0.2 miles to the possible spring site.

Spring Description
On date of visit, a time of historic drought (Feb. 2001), the Fenholloway River was dry and had been so for at least several months.  (The riverbed was covered with leaves.)  Two spots were found that are the most likely spring sites; one is a deep depression in the riverbed with a hole at the bottom, and the other a dry run into the riverbed.  The pits in the riverbed might also be small sinkholes, another potential sign of a spring.

The riverbed is lined with cypress, palmettos, and hardwood trees, and the bottom of the riverbed is about 15 feet below the top of the banks.

Use/Access
No apparent use.

Local Springiana
This supposed spring is indicated on page 52 of the Florida Atlas & Gazetteer (1997) at an estimated latitude of 30.04’40” and longitude of 83.29’59.”  It is not named or described in any other published sources the authors have found.  The two possible spring sites are at this estimated location.  Another visit will need to be made when the Fenholloway River is flowing to see (1) which of the two sites is the spring, (2) if another site is the spring, or (3) if indeed there is a spring at this location.

Personal Impressions
The dry riverbed is beautiful, despite the occasional bottle or mattress remnant.  Less than two miles below this site, the paper mill dumps 50,000,000 gallons of polluted wastewater into the Fenholloway River.  The pollution and restoration of this river are ongoing controversies in nearby Perry.

Nearby Springs

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

Eva Spring
Taylor County

Summary of Features
Scale—3rd magnitude
Scenery—fair
How Pristine?—in neighborhood, concrete and sandbag walls
Swimming—fair
Protection—unknown
Crowds—unknown
Access—private
Facilities—none

Directions
In Steinhatchee, from the intersection of State Roads 50 and 361, drive north on SR 361.  After passing through most of the town, the waterfront, and the marina, turn left onto 3rd Avenue North and proceed two blocks to the 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
The spring is surrounded by a sandbag retaining wall on three sides and a concrete wall at the downstream end to raise the water level, prevent erosion, and form a pool for swimming.  A breach in the middle of the concrete wall allows water to pass through to the spring run.  The pool is rectangular and about 20 by 35 feet.  On date of visit, the overall pool was about 3 feet deep.  Water flowed from at least two points at the head of the pool, creating clear slicks on the surface.  Limestone could be seen beneath the water, but the water was green and not very clear.  The spring run was covered in dense foliage, and its characteristics were difficult to discern.  It appeared to flow a short distance into a marsh and thence into the Gulf of Mexico.  A large tree on one side of the spring provided a rope swing and jumping-off point for the spring.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
Look but don’t swim—Eva is another spring in private hands.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Econfina River State Park
Steinhatchee Falls
Wacissa River/Slave Canal
Wakulla Springs State Park
 St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
 
 

Folsom Spring
Taylor County

 Summary of Features
 Scale—3rd magnitude
 Scenery—fair
 How Pristine?—in suburban area near RR tracks, cleared land, runoff area, algae in pool
 Swimming—no
 Protection—fair-good
 Wildlife—none
 Crowds—small to none
 Access—excellent
 Facilities—few
 Safety—good
 Scuba—no
 Cost—free

Directions
Located just south of downtown Perry.  At the intersection of U.S. Highways 98 and 27. Drive south on U.S. 27.  After 0.6 mile, turn left at second light traffic light.  The park with the spring is on the right just before the railroad crossing.

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 in a small, primitive park.  The spring and run form the shape of a golf club (driver) of about 350 feet in length before the run goes through three concrete pipes under the roadway and thence into Pimple Creek, Spring Creek, and ultimately the Fenholloway River on the SW side of Perry.  The spring pool is about 35 feet across, and the water was dark but fairly clear on the date of visit (October 2000).  There was no boil, and little evidence of flow.

The fringes of the pool were covered with duckweed and algae (on a subsequent visit in Feb. 2001, the entire pool was covered in duckweed).  There are several large limestone boulders at the edge of the spring pool.  The run widens just past the pool to perhaps 50 feet, and then gradually narrows to about 18 feet as it passes under the road.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
The setting is not attractive.  The algae may be a result of the stormwater runoff the spring receives, constriction of the spring’s natural flow, garbage in the water, or other factors.

Nearby Springs

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


Hampton Spring
Taylor County

Summary of Features
Scale—4th magnitude
Scenery—mixed—poor and fine
How Pristine?—old building structure remnants, substantial garbage and littering
Swimming—no
Protection—poor
Crowds—some local use
Access—fair
Facilities—boat ramp
Safety—fair
Scuba—no
Cost—free

Directions
From the junction of U.S. 27/19 and U.S. 98 in Perry, drive west on U.S. 98 for 4.3 miles.  Turn left (south) onto Highway 356 and continue 0.7 miles onto a short paved road just before Highway 356 makes a sweeping left turn.  At the end of the short paved road (before the trailers), turn right onto a dirt road then make an immediate left onto another dirt road and go 0.1 miles to the end at the spring site.

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 located on the site of the old Hampton Springs Hotel and flows from the foundation of a building that was constructed around it.  Water flows from a small circular concrete enclosure and passes immediately into a rectangular (3’x6’) concrete enclosure, then spills (when flowing) into a rectangular concrete pool with the dimensions of approximately 24 by 15 feet.  The pool is 10 feet deep and is on the bank of Spring Creek.  There is a drain hole in the bottom of the pool, through which the spring empties into Spring Creek.

On date of visit (February 2001), a time of historic drought, there was virtually no flow from the spring, and the bottom of the pool contained only stagnant water and garbage.  On a subsequent visit in October 2001, water was flowing from the spring at a rate of about 2 gallons per second, and the pool was mostly cleared and had about 1 foot of water in it.  There is a sulfurous odor at the spring, and there are deposits and algae in the pool and spill area into Spring Creek.  Spring Creek flows directly behind the old hotel structure and spring.  There are remnants of other structures and an old boat ramp on the site.  The land is partially cleared, but includes mature live oaks, palmettos, and sabal palms.

Use/Access
The site is currently used only as a hangout, and is badly trashed.  A basketball hoop placed into the foundation is broken.

Local Springiana
The Hampton Springs Hotel was built in 1911, and served for many years as a resort site to which people came to seek the cure in the spring’s sulphurous waters.  After a 1954 fire, the hotel was closed.  In the 1970s, the site was a county recreation area.  The small pool was filled in the summers and used for swimming, and visitors could hike several miles of trails and canoe in adjacent Spring Creek.

Personal Impressions
Hampton Springs has great potential as an historical site and as a restoration project.  The land immediately around the old hotel is beautiful, as is Spring Creek.  However, the site is sorely abused and neglected at present.  In addition, the nearby landscape is an ugly jumble of use and misuse.  Any efforts at restoration will need strong community support and buy-in.

Nearby Springs

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


Nutall Rise
Taylor County

Summary of Features
Scale—1st magnitude
Scenery—good-very good
How Pristine?—houses and dirt road around rise
Swimming—poor
Protection—unknown
Crowds—small, mostly boats
Access—good, only by boat
Facilities—none
Safety—good
Scuba—unknown
Cost—free

Directions
From Tallahassee, drive south on State Road 363 to U.S. 98.  Continue east on U.S. 98 about 16 miles until the road crosses the Aucilla River.  Take the first left after the bridge and go north about 200 yards to boat launch.  Put in and go a short distance to the 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
Nutall Rise is the rise of the Aucilla River, which reappears after traveling several miles underground.  The rise forms a large u-shaped semicircle about 100 yards across.  The water is dark and the depth cannot be determined.  The Aucilla River flows about ½ mile before being joined by the Wacissa River and flowing on to the Gulf of Mexico.  Houses and trailers sit on the perimeter of the river rise.

Use/Access

Local Springiana
Before emerging at this spot, the Aucilla River can be seen flowing toward Nutall Rise through several sinkholes north of the rise.  The Florida Scenic Trail follows a portion of this underground route.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Steinhatchee Falls
Econfina River State Park
Wacissa River/Slave Canal
Wakulla Springs State Park
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
 
 


Steinhatchee Rise
Taylor County

Summary of Features
Scale—1st magnitude
Scenery—good-very good
How Pristine?—house next to rise, roads and trails nearby
Swimming—poor
Protection—good
Crowds—small
Access—very good, land and canoe
Facilities—none
Safety—unknown
Scuba—unknown
Cost—free

Directions
The site can be reached by land from two locations:
1.  From the intersection of U.S. 19/98/27A and State Road 51, drive south on U.S. 19/98/27A a short distance over the bridge for the Steinhatchee River.  Turn off road into grass after about 200 yards beyond the bridge at a small opening in the trees onto a dirt road that leads directly to the backwater behind the river rise and take footpath to rise.  Look for the Water Management District sign for river access #5.
2.  From the intersection of U.S. 19/98/27A and State Road 51, drive south on U.S. 19/98/27A for a half-mile and turn right (west) at sign for Steinhatchee Falls.  Follow signs to boat launch about 1 mile and canoe (or walk along the bank) upriver ¼ mile to river rise across from a house.

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 river rises in an area of jumbled land, peninsulas, exposed limestone, and thick woods and shrubs.  Water flows up in a riverbed just below a fork in the river, with a house on the west side.  A large tree had fallen into the water almost atop the river rise.  At the point of the rise, the river is about 80 feet across but narrows downriver.  Water backed up behind the river rise into the two forks suggests (incorrectly) that the rise is further back.  On the eastern fork, there is a canopied area of pools, trees, humped land, and exposed limestone.  Banks along the river near the rise are steep and up to 15 feet high.  The water is dark, and no boil was visible on date of visit (Feb. 2001).  The depth could not be determined.  The river flows another 12-15 miles to the Gulf of Mexico.

Use/Access

Local Springiana Personal Impressions
The house right at the river rise mars the site and makes visitors feel like trespassers.  The terrain in the area is unusual in both its topography and its flora.  It is evident that the river is flowing beneath the land above the river rise, and that this land also floods in times of high water.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Steinhatchee Falls
Econfina River State Park
Wacissa River/Slave Canal
Wakulla Springs State Park
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
 
 

An Essay on Steinhatchee Falls
Now, we might as well admit up front that Florida does not have a great deal to contribute to the world’s collection of waterfalls.  The highest waterfall in the state is a fairly impressive sounding 67 feet, for a waterfall in the panhandle near Chipley in what is now called Falling Waters State Recreation Area.  And while it is a very interesting geological phenomenon, the water actually falls into a deep sinkhole.  There are some other falls, mostly in north Florida, but most usually only tumble a foot or two.  A couple of waterfalls on or near the Suwannee are larger—up to six feet.

Steinhatchee Falls has an exotic ring to it, and so I checked it out one day one my way from Tallahassee to Melbourne.  The site is only about five minutes off the main highway (U.S. 19/98) between Perry and Chiefland.  There is not a whole lot to see along this road except for forest and farmland, and my anticipation grew as I neared the turn-off where the highway intersects with State Road 51 at the flashing light and the “town” of Tennile.  Turning south on SR 51, I drove about a mile and then turned left at the sign for Steinhatchee Falls.  The road turns to dirt, and another sign at a t-junction leads to the right and another mile or so the falls.

The Steinhatchee River is about 50 feet across at this point, which is about a mile below where the river rises to the surfaces after flowing underground for several miles.  The water is brown and not very clear.  Getting out of the car in the little parking area, I heard the falling water before I saw it.  Oh, let’s stop pretending, there is no a real waterfall at all.  There is rather a little shelf that goes across most of the river, and the water drops a foot before resuming its lazy pace to the Gulf of Mexico.  In one corner, the fall is a little wider, and a canoe could pass through with ease through what might optimistically be called a class one shoal.

Did I mention the nice park at Steinhatchee Falls?  There are a couple of picnic tables and grills, and a clean portable restroom at the site.  I was the only there on a weekday morning, but it would be a nice little place to have a picnic on a weekend and let the sound of the little tumble lull you to sleep.
 
 

Steinhatchee Spring
Lafayette County

Summary of Features
Scale—4th magnitude
Scenery—very good
How Pristine?—spring enclosed in brick structure in small park
Swimming—no
Protection—very good
Crowds—small to none
Access—good
Facilities—fair
Safety—good
Scuba—no
Cost—free

Directions
From the intersection of U.S. 19/98/27A and State Road 51, drive north on SR 51 for 3.9 miles.  Turn right (east) onto well-graded dirt road and drive about ½ mile.  After crossing the Steinhatchee River, turn left (north) onto first road.  Drive 0.8 miles past several houses.  Take left at fork and the spring will be 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
Steinhatchee Spring is in a two-section brick enclosure in a small park along the Steinhatchee River.  Water flows from a limestone opening at the bottom of a cylindrical brick enclosure that is about 5 feet high and three feet in diameter.  Water flows through openings in this enclosure into a small square brick pool that is about 6 feet across and four feet deep.  A drain at the bottom of the pool allows the spring to exit and flow into the Steinhatchee River 15 feet away.  On date of visit (February 2001), the flow was very low—about the amount of a running faucet on high.

The water has a strong sulfur odor and left white deposits along its short run to the Steinhatchee River.  There is also algae along the run and in the brick enclosure.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
Steinhatchee is an attractive little spring and park and worth the 5-minute detour off the highway to see it.

Nearby Springs

 Other Nearby Natural Features
Steinhatchee Falls
Econfina River State Park
Wacissa River/Slave Canal
Wakulla Springs State Park
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
 
 


TAY76992
Taylor County






Summary of Features
Scale—2nd magnitude
Scenery—fine
How Pristine?—house across from spring, suds in water, otherwise very natural
Swimming—no
Protection—excellent
Crowds—none
Access—good to mouth of run, difficult to headspring
Facilities—none
Safety—fair-good
Scuba—unknown
Cost—free

Directions
From the intersection of U.S. 19/98/27A and State Road 51, drive south on SR 51, past campground area about a mile and turn left onto the first dirt road.  Continue a short distance until the road forks.  Take the right fork and then the first left turn (onto a thinner sandy road after a couple of hundred yards) at sign for boat launch and follow a short distance to the boat launch on the Steinhatchee River.  From the boat launch, follow the path going upriver along the bank 100-150 yards to the mouth of the spring run.

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
JF has only seen the mouth of the spring run and the final stretch of the run before it spills into the Steinhatchee River.  The run narrows from 14 feet across to about 6 feet across in the last 100 feet of its course and tumbles into the river.  The water was fairly clear and somewhat dark on date of visit (April 2001).  According to Hornsby & Ceryak (2000), the run is 1,500 feet long, and the spring forms a pool that is 60 feet across.  Their photograph shows suds in the mouth of the run, suggesting the water is polluted.  JF did not see any suds on his visit.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
JF did not see a path along the run, but did see lots of poison oak and poison ivy along the riverbank path.  Not wearing proper clothing, he did not explore the ¼ mile run.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Steinhatchee Falls
Econfina River State Park
Wacissa River/Slave Canal
Wakulla Springs State Park
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
 
 


TAY924991
Taylor County

Summary of Features
Scale—3rd magnitude
Scenery—fine
How Pristine?—very pristine
Swimming—no
Protection—unknown
Crowds—none
Access—private
Facilities—none
Safety—unknown
Scuba—no

Quick Directions
250 feet upriver from TAY924993 spring.

Full Directions
From the junction of U.S. 27/19 and U.S. 98 in Perry, drive west on U.S. 98 for 2.55 miles.  Turn right (north) at sign for Hunter Creek development and proceed just under a mile to the bridge over Spring Creek.  The spring is 250 upriver from the bridge on the right (more southerly) fork of the creek on the east side of the bridge.

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 lies in the bed of Spring Creek between the remnants of two beaver dams.  Water flows from a small limestone opening (that was not clearly visible) at a depth of 2-3 feet.  A mild upwelling was visible on the surface, and the water was fairly clear.  The bottom of the creek in this backed-up section is covered in filamentous algae.  The creek is 25 feet across and is completely canopied by trees and shrubs along its low banks.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
The contrast between the completely pristine condition of this spring and the exotic- and garbage-overrun TAY924993 less than 100 yards away is startling.

Nearby Springs

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

TAY924993
Taylor County

Summary of Features
Scale—3rd magnitude
Scenery—very poor/unsightly
How Pristine?—terribly trashed and overrun with exotic hydrilla
Swimming—no
Protection—none
Crowds—none
Access—excellent
Facilities—none
Safety—good
Scuba—no
Cost—free

Directions
From the junction of U.S. 27/19 and U.S. 98 in Perry, drive west on U.S. 98 for 2.55 miles.  Turn right (north) at sign for Hunter Creek development and proceed just under a mile to the bridge over Spring Creek.  The spring is near the bridge on the SE 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
The springs consist of two small boils near the SE corner of the bridge and bridge support.  One boil was two feet in diameter, and the other (which was a few feet away) was one foot in diameter.  On date of visit in February 2001, a time of historic drought, the boils were pronounced, raised, issued clear water, and easy to spot.  The surrounding creek was very shallow, completely covered in hydrilla, and strewn with garbage.  The boils were the only areas that were not covered in the aquatic vegetation.  Turtles were sunning themselves near the vents.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
The two boils are points of mild interest in this otherwise unsightly and abused site.

Nearby Springs

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

Waldo Spring
Taylor County

 Summary of Features
 Scale—3rd magnitude
 Scenery—very good
 How Pristine?—land cleared around spring
 Swimming—fair-good
 Protection—good
 Wildlife—good
 Crowds—can be crowded on warm weekends
 Access—good
 Facilities—none
 Safety—good to fair
 Scuba—no
 Cost—free

Quick Directions
Waldo Spring is five miles SW of Perry, 1¼ miles down a dirt that turns west off County Road 359, 4.5 miles south of the intersection of 359 and U.S. 98.

Full Directions
At the intersection of U.S. 27 and U.S. 98 in Perry, drive west onto U.S. 98 toward Newport.  Pass the Waco Country Kitchen at 0.7 miles, and at 1.3 miles you come to Golf Course Road, also known as County Road 359.  Turn south (left), passing a golf course (3.6 miles).  After another 0.2 miles you cross a bridge, and at 4.5 miles you see a dirt road on your right.  (Another 20 seconds of driving and you will have overshot, ending up at Puckett Road.)

Turn right on the one-lane dirt road and go through the gate and across the grate in the road.  The first few hundred yards are rough going but after that the road is well graded, with holes here and there.  You pass planted pines and small oaks.  Go 1¼ mile and you will pass across another grate, arriving at the dirt parking area.

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 main boil is near the rocks blocking the parking area, which consists of two sandy loops around some oak trees.   Clear water flows upward from a small hole in the limestone, a few steps from the parking area.  The circular spring pool is 10 feet in diameter, and the vent is approximately 8 feet deep.  Various small boils or seeps dot the basin.  Away from the boil itself, the water is a murky greenish-gray.  The run disappears into thick vegetation but the loud sound of rushing water is audible in the distance.  The spring run forms a small, shallow pool before flowing into the Fenholloway River about 120 feet to the north.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
When RB visited Waldo Spring, the only other person there was a young woman in the company of her Chihuahua, sunning herself as loud country music blared from her truck.  She had lived in the area for 11 years, and told RB about the spring.  She said that she, her husband, and their friends took pains to haul trash away and clear sand from the boils from time to time.  RB visited on a weekday after school had started, but could imagine that the place could be quite a party spot on weekends.  When the authors returned to the spring in the winter of 2000, dry conditions had completely stopped the spring flow.

Nearby Springs

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

An Essay on Econfina River State Park
The Big Bend has a big newish state park, and I bet you never heard of it.  First, let’s get the name right.  It is Econfina River State Park, located between Tallahassee and Perry, five minutes off U.S. 98 on State Road 14.  It is generally pronounced e’-con-fee’-uh or e’-con-fee’-ner.  If you want, you can drop the first “n” altogether and just say e’-co-fee’-nuh.

Now you may not think these distinctions are important, but they are because there is another river near Panama City spelled but not pronounced the same way.  That one is called E’-con-fi’-ner Creek, and folks who live in those parts might not take kindly to your suggesting their “finer” creek is a “feener” river.

Econfina River State Park does not look or feel like a Florida state park.  It has private homes, a camp store, restaurant, condominiums, motel rooms, a conference center, and a pool.  It was owned by the McKay family—you’ve probably heard of Buddy--who developed it and created a popular fishing spot.  The McKays sold the land to the state but maintain their concession, and the park is currently operated as a public-private partnership.

If you have been to state parks in other states, you may have noticed they are more developed than most of the ones in Florida.  A typical Georgia State Park, for example, has a pool, cabins, laundry, putt-putt, and other amenities.  In Florida, however, the parks are managed “to appear as closely as possible as they did when the first Europeans arrived.”  It is an interesting distinction and philosophy, and the result is Florida parks have a stronger focus on nature and passive recreation than many other states.

That said, I am grateful for the partnership at Econfina River.  It is much better that business and conservation collaborate than that the whole lower river be developed.

But I haven’t told you about the river.  The dock and ramp are about two miles above the Gulf of Mexico.  At this point, the river is still narrow, but it is tidally affected and somewhat salty.  You can use the ramp to lower into the water, and canoes are rented for a low fee.

Fishing is definitely the main attraction here.  Spanish mackerel, shark, redfish, seatrout, and cobia draw both the serious and recreational fisherman.  On my last visit, I heard one fellow tell another that he had dropped his hook 100 times and gotten a fish every time.  A fish story perhaps, but it took two people to get his cooler out of the boat.  The restaurant will cook your catch for you, or you can buy a seafood dinner.

Going either upriver or down will quickly take you away from civilization.  It will also get you away from the ferocious no-see-ums and mosquitoes by the docks and on the unimproved walking and horse trails.  Upriver the water winds its way north under a tight canopy.  There is virtually no development, and I am told the going is difficult even in a canoe.

Downriver is quite different and much easier going.  The trees around the river—initially a jungle of hardwoods and palmettos—give way to pine islands set among salt marshes.  The river widens as you near the Gulf.  Everything opens up and the elements simplify to the most basic common denominators--sky, water, wind, and grass.  The marsh grass, spreading as far as the eye can see to the left and right, serves as nursery for fish that attract the fishermen.  Osprey and bald eagles soar and swoop overhead, their eagle eyes keen for prey.

The scene is unchanged from eons ago.  The river keeps spreading, begins to chop with waves, and then the grass falls away altogether and you are in the sea.  What am I doing sitting here, when I could be out there?  See you on the Econfina.