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

IX.  Central Gulf Coast Springs




The springs along the central Gulf coast'”from Crystal River to Weeki Wachee'”include some of the largest, most beautiful and pristine'”as well as most developed or fouled'”springs in Florida.  Most in this group, including Crystal River, Rainbow, Homosassa, and Chassahowitzka, are actually clusters of springs that feed a river, bay, or estuary system.  Between them, the four groups are home to over 60 large and small springs.  These springs, along with Weeki Wachee Springs, discharge mostly ground water but have higher concentrations of sea water in their runs nearer the coast and at high tide.   A canoe or small boat is the best way to visit the springs, but and all have easy access off U.S 19, the primary north-south corridor on Florida'™s central Gulf coast.

Weeki Wachee is the most famous spring in the region; since the late 1940s it has presented live mermaid shows'”young women who cavort, dance, sing, and act out soggy sagas in the spring basin to the delight of crowds who view the spectacle from an underwater theater.  Crystal River and Homosassa Springs are world-renowned sites where people can observe and swim with the endangered West Indian Manatee.  Homosassa is also a state wildlife park with a permanent population of wounded or sick manatees and an underwater observation room.  Crystal River also has several very popular dive sites.

Rainbow Springs was, for many years, a spring attraction with glass-bottom boat rides, a zoo, gardens, and parrot shows.  It is now a state park with a state campground a short distance downriver.  The Chassahowitzka is much less known and much less developed than its spring neighbors a few miles to its north.  Much of its run is protected as a national wildlife refuge, and it teems with wildlife.

All these springs are large first-magnitude systems, and all but Weeki Wachee have several spectacular springs as described in the following narrative.  All these springs, unfortunately, also suffer in varying degrees from pollution and blight brought on by development, runoff, leaking or otherwise inadequate septic systems, nitrate build-up, and exotic plant infestation.  Nitrate is an especially difficult problem because it not only promotes accelerated plant and algae growth, but also is very stable and longlasting.   Of the group, Rainbow and the Chassahowitzka are probably the least damaged, and Crystal River is easily the worst, being almost completely developed and with only a few corners remaining where the water is consistently clear and not filled with exotics or algae blooms.  According to Champion & Starks (May, 2001, p. 3) nitrate has leached into the aquifer during the last 20 years and is now flowing out from the springs in ever-larger quantities.

Protecting Florida's Springs, produced by the Florida Departments of Community Affairs and Environmental Protection, notes that the dominent source of nitrate discharging from the Homosassa, Chassahowitzka, Weeki Wachee, and Aripeka spring groups/complexes is inorganic--that is, it is primarily from residential and golf course fertilizers.  Research shows that the rise in nitrates in this springs exactly parallels the rise in population of the surrounding areas (2002, pp. 8, 12).  At Crystal River, the primary sources of nitrate are lawn and golf course fertilizers, septic tanks, and effluent disposal from sewage treatment.  The document goes on to note,

Ground water enriched in nitrogen from both development-related and natural sources is moving toward the coast in well-defined plumes.  Within 20 years, this nitrogen will reach the King's Bay springs and likely increast nitrogen concentrations significantly (2002, p. 12).
It is frightening to imagine King's Bay looking worse than it already does.  Despite'”or perhaps because of'”these problems, these springs are worth whatever effort it takes to see them.  From the Three Sisters to the Chassahowitzka Solution Holes to The Crack to the Rainbow headwaters to live mermaids, each is unique and a crown jewel waiting to be appreciated, treasured, and saved.
 

Part IX Contents

          A.  Crystal River/King'™s Bay Springs Group
               Artesian Spring
               Black Spring
               Catfish Spring
               Gator (or Gator Hole or Crystal or Magnolia) Springs
               Grand Canyon Spring
               Hunter (or Hunter's or American Legion) Spring
               Idiot'™s Delight
               Independence Spring
               Jurassic Spring
               King'™s (or Tarpon or Tarpon Hole) Spring
               Little Hidden Spring
               Mullet'™s Gullet
               Three Sisters
               Unnamed Banana Island Spring #1
               Unnamed Banana Island Spring #2
               Unnamed Banana Springs #3-5
               Unnamed Spring Boils

          B. Homosassa Springs Group
               Homosassa Spring
                    An Essay on Homosassa Springs
               Pumphouse Spring
               Echo (or perhaps Trotter, or McClain or Abdoney?) Spring
               Bluebird Spring
               Hidden River Head Spring
               Hall's River Head Spring

          C.  Chassahowitzka River Springs Group
                    An Essay on the Chassahowitzka
               Chassahowitzka (or Devil's Punchbowl) Spring
               Solution Holes (or Chassahowitzka #1) Springs
               Unnamed Spring behind Solution Holes
               Crab Creek (or Crab) Springs
               Lettuce Spring
               Houseboat Spring
               Blue Spring
               The Crack (or Miss Maggie's Crack or Baird) Spring
               Salt Creek Springs
               Potter Spring
               Ruth Springs
               Beetejay Spring
               Blue Run Spring

          D.  Rainbow Springs Group
                    An Essay on Rainbow Springs
               Rainbow Springs (12+ springs including Waterfall and Bubbling)
               Rainbow Swamp (or Indian) Springs
               Rock Spring

          E. Other Central Gulf Coast Springs
               Big King Spring
               Blue Spring
               Harvey Spring
               Jenkins Spring
               Little King Spring
               Mud River Spring
               Salt Spring
               Vogt Spring
               Twin Dees Spring
               Weeki Wachee Spring
               Wekiva Springs
 
 

A. Crystal River/King'™s Bay Springs Group
Crystal River flows from a spring-fed bay in Citrus County on Florida'™s west coast.  For a relatively small area'”King'™s Bay is about 1.25 miles long and a mile across'”it is perhaps the greatest concentration of springs in the state.  As far as the authors could glean from published sources, about 30 springs have been formally identified in and around King'™s Bay.  However, local residents informed the authors that there were many more small springs in the bay, along Crystal River, and in the inlets that feed the bay and river along its course to the Gulf of Mexico.  One resident, a manatee tour outfitter, opined that there were over 100 springs.

In sum, the flow from the springs in King's Bay averages 567 million gallons per day, making it the second largest spring group in Florida (Champion and Starks, May 2001, p. 49).

The bay has five larger (1,000+ feet in length) and several smaller islands.  Water flows north from King'™s Bay into Crystal River and thence about five miles northwest to the Gulf.  Most of the identified "Crystal River" springs are actually in King'™s Bay, on the eastern side on a very rough north/south line about a mile long.  The majority are along the eastern edges of the bay and/or in the vicinity of Banana Island.  Curiously (and unlike other coastal submarine springs in Florida), the flow of the Crystal River/King'™s Bay springs diminishes during the summer (when rainfall is heavier) and at high tide (Rosenau et al., 1977, p. 83).

Crystal River/King'™s Bay is famed as both a dive and manatee mecca.  Several of the larger springs have cavern systems and are very popular with divers. There are dive outfitters in the adjoining town, which is named for Crystal River.  Because the bay and river are so rich in springs'”which maintain a constant temperature'”they attract manatees in large numbers from October-March.  Over 200 manatees have been counted in the bay on a single day, or nearly 7% of the total estimated remaining population.  These slow-moving, plant-eating mammals can also be seen in the bay and river throughout the year, albeit in smaller numbers during warm weather.

As there are for divers, there are also several local outfitters offering opportunities to "swim with the manatees."  Pontoon boats take people to spots where manatees congregate, and visitors can enter the water for a possible close encounter.  Rules govern human/manatee interaction: one may touch a manatee that approaches on its own, but people are not allowed to chase/follow aggressively, feed/lure, ride, rope, or otherwise harass the manatees.  From October through March, areas around several springs are roped off from all boats to protect the manatees that congregate in springs to keep warm.

Since they have no natural enemies, manatees are unafraid of people.  Man is, however, their only threat, and the combination of habitat loss, pollution, and collisions with boat propellers has reduced their numbers to about 3,000 total.  Manatees are officially protected as an endangered species.

RB visited Kings/Mullet'™s Gullet/Grand Canyon springs in 1999, and JF joined RB on a systematic spring search in King'™s Bay in May 2001.  We were both delighted and shocked by what we saw.  Some of the springs'”especially Hunter, Three Sisters, and Kings/Mullet'™s Gullet/Grand Canyon'”are spectacular sights.  King'™s Bay offers sweeping views and excellent opportunities for recreation.  However, the bay, river, and springs are badly polluted and infested with both exotic water plants and algae growth/blooms.  Water clarity is dramatically reduced from historic levels, and native flora and fauna populations have fallen.

Sources of the problems include fertilizer and road runoff, and leaking/seepage from inadequate septic systems.  Nearly every inch of land around the bay is developed for housing or commerce, and many of these structures have old sewer systems.  Natural inlets have been extended via numerous canals to provide watercraft access to homeowners, and these seawall-lined backwaters are generally the most badly polluted and plant-choked areas.  Oil and gas runoff from the adjacent U.S. Highway 98 runs directly into Kings Bay.

In addition to rising pollution levels, overall flows from the springs in King's Bay are 25% below historic levels, according to Champion & Starks (May 2001).  Reasons for the reduced flow likely include increased human extraction of water in the area by the rising population and a drought during the period of 1998-2001.

At the public park at Hunter (or American Legion) Spring, signs warn swimmers to shower off immediately after swimming to avoid getting rashes or skin lesions from the polluted water.  Only a small percentage of the houses in Crystal River are on a city sewer system.  A bill to pay to expand the sewer system was vetoed by Florida Governor John "Jeb" Bush in 2000.

When the authors visited the area in May 2001, they found only one spot that had very clear water and that was not infested with exotic plants or algae'”the Three Sisters/Idiot'™s Delight area.  Local residents told the authors that the bay and Crystal river were much clearer in the past, and are also clearer in the mornings, at low tide, when the wind is calm, and during periods when there are not so many boats and divers stirring up the water.

A short story exemplifies conditions in parts of King'™s Bay.  While paddling in the Hunter (or American Legion) Spring run near Jurassic Spring in May 2001, the authors passed directly over 1-2 manatees that were probably resting or napping on the bottom.  They had seen a mother manatee and its young earlier in the day in the area.  The water was an unnatural'”almost fluorescent'”green, with visibility only about 6 inches.  Even though the bottom was only 4-5 feet deep, and a manatee actually struck the authors'™ canoe and lifted it partially out of the water, they were only able to identify it when it briefly broke the surface.

A $400,000 investment of city, county, and state funds for clean-up in 1997 purchased machinery to attack and remove aquatic vegetation.  The contraption in the photo below tears plants from the bottom and also has a conveyor belt to remove vegetation.  The authors did not see the conveyor belt in use, but observed the machine churning up the bottom.  This approach may help but is clearly not a long-term solution.  The churning/harvesting machine may also be exacerbating the problem, as they cut the exotic plants up into small pieces that float into other areas of Kings Bay and establish themselves there.

Besides the plant-clearing machines, some other steps have been taken to help protect the Crystal River area.  The large islands in King'™s Bay have been included in the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, and there are seven other manatee sanctuaries during the winter months.  Most recently, Three Sisters Springs was declared a manatee refuge from November 15-March 31 each year.  At the same time, however, the owners of the land adjacent to Three Sisters sought permits to extract as much at 426,000 gallons of water from the springs each day.  The issue is not resolved.

Crystal River is one of the world'™s great sites for springs, manatees, diving, and recreation, but its health is bad and deteriorating.  It is in critical need of action to attenuate and ameliorate the problems caused by development, pollution, and exotic infestation.  Visitors must already dive through a poison layer to reach Hunter (or American Legion) Spring, and Jurassic Spring is the most polluted-looking spring the authors have ever seen.  Unless action'”in the form of stricter regulations, better clean-up, exotic removal, and support for expanding modern sewer systems'”the crown jewels of King'™s Bay (like Three Sisters) may soon suffer a similar fate.
 
 

Artesian Spring
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”poor
How Pristine?'”flowing well, enclosed as hotel swimming pool
Swimming'”fair-good
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”heavy on warm weekends
Access'”private, only for use by hotel guests
Facilities'”fine
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”must stay at adjacent hotel

Directions
At King'™s Bay Lodge in Crystal River. See map for location.

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 an artesian, flowing well* used to fill a hotel swimming pool in a NE corner of King'™s Bay.  The pool is rectangular and about 15 by 40 feet. Water in the pool is clear, and there were plants (either elodea or hydrilla) and rocks along the bottom.  The maximum depth is about 8 feet.  There was no visible boil, and the authors could not determine the location of the flow point.  The spring is partially canopied by a large oak tree on one end and additional trees on the other end, where there is an outflow point.  One side of the concrete pool wall also serves as a retaining wall to the adjoining King'™s Bay.  The King'™s Bay Hotel is immediately upland from the pool.

Use/Access

Local Springiana
*The authors were informed by a nearby tour guide that this spring was a flowing well.  It is possible that the site is a "regular" spring and that the tour guide was mistaken.

Personal Impressions
The site is interesting and worth a look, regardless of whether it is an actually spring or just a flowing well.  It is one of the few springs in King's Bay where one can actually see the bottom clearly.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest
 
 


Black Spring
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”fair-good
How Pristine?'”near homes and canal, algae in water
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”small-none
Access'”entrance blocked
Facilities'”none
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”no

Directions
At southern tip of King's Bay at latitude 28.52.38.628, lingitude 82.35.57.196.  The spring is at the back end of a canal in an area of homes along the water.

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 authors attempted to locate this spring in May 2001 but were unsuccessful.  They rely therefore on the description provided by Champion & Starks:

The spring lies in several feet of water, and may produce a boil at the surface of the canal.  The spring is one of several vents in the area, and is tidally influenced (May 2001, p. 51).

Their photograph shows a small canopied pool with a plastic pipe strung across the mouth of the pool to prevent access.

Use/Access

Nearby Springs Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest
 
 


Catfish Spring
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”unknown
Scenery'”fine underwater, fair around spring
How Pristine?'”at end of dock in developed area
Swimming'”fair, fine skin-diving
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”some divers
Access'”fine from boat, need permission from land
Facilities'”excellent nearby
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”free from water

Directions
See map. The spring is at the end of a dock just west of the boat ramp at the Best Western Hotel.

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
On date of visit, with only fair clarity, the spring appeared to be a hole about 3 feet in diameter at a depth of 15-20 feet.  No flow was visible on the surface, but the water was clearer around the spring than the surrounding water.  The spring opening was free of plants.  According to DeLoach, the spring opening widens to a small cavern that is full of catfish (1997, p. 111).

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
The authors were not equipped to explore the spring, so only viewed it from the surface in a canoe.  It was difficult to photograph because there is no place to get a good above-water vantage-point.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest
 
 


Gator (or Gator Hole or Crystal or Magnolia) Springs
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”unknown
Scenery'”poor from surface, fine from underwater
How Pristine?'”in developed housing area
Swimming'”fair, fine snorkeling and skin-diving
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”some scuba divers
Access'”good, boat only
Faclities'”none
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”free

Directions
In a neighborhood in a natural inlet near Three Sisters and Idiots'™ Delight Springs.  Gator Spring is in the NE corner of the inlet, near the shore and adjacent to the back yard of a house.  The second spring (Magnolia) is smaller and located about 150 feet south of Gator Spring adjacent to the undeveloped east bank near a cedar tree. See map.

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
Two springs are in a developed inlet that feeds the central part of King'™s Bay on the east side of the bay.  The spring forms a circular bowl that appeared to be 20 feet deep.  In and near the center of the bowl were light spots suggesting points of clear flow and that are vegetation-free.  There was no boil visible on the surface.  This spring appears to be what Rosenau et al. (1977, p. 82) and DeLoach (1997, p. 111) refer to as Gator Hole.  According to Rosenau, Gator Hole once had an extensive cave system with rock spires, but it collapsed around 1963.

The second spring, which a resident called Magnolia Spring, is next to the east bank not far from the main channel.  The limestone bottom drops away and out of sight to the spring, and a boil was visible on date of visit in May 2001. Water was clearer over the spring than the surrounding water.

Use/Access
The springs are explored by scuba divers, skin-divers, and snorkelers.

Personal Impressions
The authors did not explore and photograph the springs from underwater.  As with Catfish Hole, Gator Spring was very difficult to photograph or even to see clearly in the somewhat murky water.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest
 
 



Grand Canyon Spring
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”flow unknown, large spring area
Scenery'”excellent
How Pristine?'”very pristine
Swimming'”fair, excellent skin-diving and good snorkeling
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”heavy on weekends
Access'”good, boat only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”good
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”free

Directions
About 250 feet south of alcove on south side of Banana Island in King'™s Bay. The spring is adjacent to King'™s (or Tarpon) Spring and Mullet'™s Gullet 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 a crevice in the limestone about 30 feet long and at a depth of about 30 feet.  Water flows strongly from an opening at one end.  No boil was visible on the surface on the dates the authors visited, and viewing conditions were poor due to wind, high tide, and divers stirring up the water with their fins. The authors were told by a scuba diver that the water was clear on the bottom.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
Conditions must be more calm then they were on the authors' dates of visit to visually appreciate these springs from the surface, and the authors plan to return and explore the site further.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest

Contact Information
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
1502 SE King'™s Bay Drive
Crystal River, FL 34429
352-563-2088
 
 


Hunter (or Hunter's or American Legion) Spring
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”fair (surface) to fine (underwater)
How Pristine?'”polluted to unhealthful levels
Swimming'”good, fine snorkeling
Protection'”poor
Crowds'”large on warm weekends and in summer
Access'”excellent, land or water
Facilities'”fine
Safety'”lifeguard, water bad for skin
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”free

Directions
Just offshore at Hunter Spring Municipal Park in Crystal River. The spring is about 100 feet offshore in the middle of Hunter Spring Run on the north side. The run is on the east side of King'™s Bay'”see map.

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 limestone opening at a depth of about 15 feet. Water flows strongly out of the hole, which is 2-3 feet in diameter, and forms a mild slick on the surface.  The spring creates a bowl in the middle of Hunter Spring Run, which is about 100 yards across at this point. Water in the run is greenish, but was clear and blue over the spring on date of visit in May 2001.  The spring was less clear later in the day when it was crowded with swimmers.  The vent and surrounding area were covered in algae and silted easily when stirred.  A floating dock is moored next to the vent for swimmers and sunbathers. Land to the north of the spring is a public park; the rest of the land is developed for housing and apartments.  In addition to having algae, the spring and run are thick with exotic vegetation.  When visited in the late afternoon, the back part of the run was bright green with visibility of less than 6 inches.  Fish and manatees were seen at the spring, and herons were seen along the run.

Use/Access

Local Springiana
The lifeguard at the spring warned the authors to be sure to shower off after swimming.  She said failing to do so would cause eye irritation and skin lesions, and she showed them several spots that developed on her skin after she had neglected to immediately wash off the polluted water in the spring run.

Personal Impressions
Hunter is a beautiful spring that is grossly polluted.  One can dive through the polluted layer near the surface to the clear and lovely spring below'”the flow from the spring is still clean'”or at least clear'”and creates a bubble of transparent water beneath the fouled water above.  Were it not for the pollution, Hunter would be one of the more attractive springs in Florida.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest
 
 



Idiot'™s Delight Spring
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”1st magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”fine
How Pristine?'”near houses built along the natural inlet
Swimming'”fine, excellent snorkeling
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”large on warm days
Access'”good, water only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”free

Directions
Located near Three Sisters Springs in a natural inlet/canal on the east side of King'™s Bay, due east of Buzzard Island'”see map.

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 authors somehow managed to miss this spring complex, although they were apparently within a few feet of it at Three Sisters Spring.  According to Rosenau et al. (1977, p. 82), there are three spring vents in the canal/inlet, and they are about 20 feet deep.  DeLoach notes that the water is very clear around the vents and that the largest has an opening of about 4 feet (1997, p. 111).  The surrounding canal is not as clear and flows about 1,000 yards into King'™s Bay. There is development (houses) around the spring and run.

Use/Access
Swimmers, snorkelers, and divers frequent the springs, and boats often anchor nearby.

Personal Impressions
The authors are chagrined at having missed this spring. While at nearby Three Sisters, they asked other swimmers and boaters about Idiot'™s Delight but did not get any firm intelligence on the location. Some said additional springs were just outside the mouth of the Three Sisters run, but the authors could not see any vents and the water was only about 6 feet deep.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest

Contact Information
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
1502 SE King'™s Bay Drive
Crystal River, FL 34429
352-563-2088
 
 



Independence Spring
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”4th magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”fair
How Pristine?'”concrete retaining wall, in urban park next to highway and police station
Swimming'”no
Protection'”poor
Crowds'”popular picnic/gathering area
Access'”excellent
Facilities'”good
Safety'”outstanding (next to police station)
Scuba'”no
Cost'”free

Directions
Next to police station in the town of Crystal River along U.S. 19.

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 pool that is about 80 by 40 feet in diameter. A concrete retaining wall surrounds the pool and comes up above the water from 2-4 feet, depending on the tide in nearby King'™s Bay. At the south end of the pool, the spring run exits beneath a small arching footbridge, flows under U.S. 19, and eventually empties into King'™s Bay. Water in the pool is clear and appears to be 2-4 feet deep. However, the pool is filled with exotic vegetation (appears to be elodea or hydrilla, and the location of the vent or vents could not be determined. Land on the west side of the pool is a park area with large oak trees and picnic areas. The police station and parking lot is on the east side, and highway 19 is to the south.

Use/Access
There is no use of the pool itself. The adjacent park is used for picnics, walking, and hanging out.

Local Springiana
Located as it is next to the Crystal River Police Station, Independence Spring is without doubt the safest spring to visit in Florida, albeit nothing like the most attractive.

Personal Impressions
The exotic plants could be removed from the spring with relative ease, making it much more attractive than it currently is.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest
 
 


Jurassic Spring
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”poor
How Pristine?'”grossly polluted, adjacent to large buildings
Swimming'”no
Protection'”poor
Crowds'”small
Access'”boat only
Safety'”unhealthy
Scuba'”not recommended
Cost'”free

Directions
Located adjacent to an apartment/condominium complex near the eastern end of the Hunter Spring run in Crystal River'”see map.

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 a circular pool about 60 feet in diameter that opens directly into the Hunter Spring Run from the east side. The depth of the pool could not be determined, as visibility was only about 6 inches. There was no boil on the surface. Water in the spring and surrounding run was a bright and unnatural green, and the water had an unpleasant smell when visited in the late afternoon in May 2001. There is a beach area on the east side of the pool, and a plastic tube/pipe is strung across the mouth of the pool to prevent boat access from the Hunter Spring Run. A pole near the spring has a sign calling it Jurassic Spring, with a small plastic T-Rex on top.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
Jurassic is the most polluted- and unpleasant-looking spring the authors have ever visited, which is saying a lot. In the backwater of the Hunter Spring run, the spring is not adequately flushed out by the tide. One of the big, floating, plant-tearing machines had been working in the vicinity earlier in the day, which may explain the fluorescent green color of the water. Water that got onto JF'™s hands while he was paddling left a burning sensation on his skin.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest
 
 


King'™s (or Tarpon or Tarpon Hole) Spring
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”1st magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”excellent-outstanding
How Pristine?'”excellent-outstanding
Swimming'”poor, excellent snorkeling/skin-diving
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”heavy with divers on weekends
Access'”good, boat only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”good
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”free

Directions
About 250 feet south of alcove on south side of Banana Island in King'™s Bay. The spring is adjacent to Grand Canyon Spring and Mullet'™s Gullet Spring'”see map.

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 a depression about 200 feet in diameter and 30 feet deep.  An opening in the limestone splits and then goes further down another 30 feet or so in two caverns.  There is a good flow from the opening, which can forms a mild boil on the surface under calm conditions at low tide.  Water flowing from the hole is clear and clean, and the area is abundant with fish as well as with manatees during the winter months.

No boil was visible on the surface on the dates the authors visited, and viewing conditions were poor due to wind, high tide, and divers stirring up the water with their fins.  They were told by a scuba diver that the water was clear on the bottom.  This spring is the largest of all the springs in King's Bay.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
Conditions must be ideal to visually appreciate these springs from the surface, and the authors plan to return and explore the site further.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest

Contact Information
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
1502 SE King'™s Bay Drive
Crystal River, FL 34429
352-563-2088
 
 


Little Hidden Spring
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd magnitude
Scenery'”excellent
How Pristine?'”very natural and unspoiled
Swimming'”no
Protection'”excellent
Crowds'”small
Access'”good, boat only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”free

Directions
At the northern tip of an island (GET NAME) in SE King'™s Bay and part of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. The island is just north of Buzzard Island and Paradise point on the mainland. Look for the mouth of the run across from tall reeds where the channel around the island opens up into King'™s Bay'”see map.

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 pool in an area of dense jungle-like vegetation and forest. Water flows from 3 small limestone opening at depths of 2-3 feet. The pool is about 25 by 45 feet and then narrows into a run of about 60 feet to the edge of King'™s Bay. Water in the spring is shallow'”from 1-3 feet'”and clear. The spring and run and canopied by palms and hardwoods, and small fish may be spied in the water. The authors saw a raccoon by the spring run on date of visit in May 2001.

Use/Access
The island where the spring is located is protected as part of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. No landfall can be made, and not many people know about the spring. Most come in on small motorboats and hang out or wade in the shallows.

Local Springiana
A long-time visitor at the spring told the authors the spring was called "Little Hidden Spring." It may not have a formal name. This spring was marked in the 1977 Springs of Florida, but was not described or named (Rosenau et al., p. 81).

Personal Impressions
Of all the springs the authors saw in Crystal River, this one was the most pristine and untrammeled. Because it is small, however, more than three people feels like a crowd.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest

Contact Information
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
1502 SE King'™s Bay Drive
Crystal River, FL 34429
352-563-2088
 
 


Mullet'™s Gullet Spring
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”excellent
How Pristine?'”very pristine
Swimming'”poor, excellent snorkeling/skin-diving
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”large on weekends
Access'”good, boat only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”good
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”free

Directions
About 250 feet south of alcove on south side of Banana Island in King'™s Bay. The spring is adjacent to King'™s Spring and Grand Canyon Spring'”see map.

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
Water flows from several small openings in the limestone bottom at a depth of 20-25 feet. Water is clear and clean, and fish and manatees may be seen. No boil was visible on the surface on the dates the authors visited, and viewing conditions were poor due to wind, high tide, and divers stirring up the water with their fins. They were told by a scuba diver that the water was clear on the bottom.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
Conditions must be ideal to visually appreciate these springs from the surface, and the authors plan to return and explore the site further.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest
 
 



Three Sisters Springs
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”excellent-outstanding
How Pristine?'”house by one spring, fringe of trees around other springs
Swimming'”good, outstanding snorkeling
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”can be heavy in all seasons
Access'”good, swimming or canoe/kayak only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”free

Directions
In a modified natural inlet/canal on the east side of King'™s Bay, at the head of a run blocked by concrete pilings'”see map.

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
Three Sisters is a complex of three spring areas with several large and small vents and sand boils. The springs share a run along a mainly N/S line, with the common run exiting to the main canal between the two lower springs. See drawing identifying the springs as #s 1-3.

Spring #1 is the most northerly or furthest to the left as one enters the system from the mouth of the spring run. The spring forms an oval pool about 40 by 30 feet in diameter and is canopied and shaded. Water in the spring is clear and blue, and the silty bottom is covered with sand, fallen branches, and tree roots. Water flows from one or more small limestone openings near the center-back of the pool at a depth of about 15 feet. There is a mild boil on the surface. The pool is bowl-shaped and has a general depth of about 10 feet. Water exits the pool to the south in a canopied run that is 5-8 feet deep and 10-15 feet wide. After about 75 feet, the run widens/opens as it is joined by the flow from the middle spring or Spring #2.

Spring #2 is the central and largest spring, forming a circular pool nearly 100 feet across and up to 20 feet deep. Water flows from limestone openings among sand, silt, and tree roots/branches and is very clear and clean. The spring is bright blue. There are large boils on the surface. The fringes of the pool are 4-6 feet deep, and the bottom is sandy, silty, and/or muddy depending on the location. A submerged tree above the spring vent serves as a perch for tall visitors. A line of trees surrounds the spring. Water flows directly into the run from Spring #1 and toward the run exit near Spring #3.

Spring #3 is much like Spring #2 in character, albeit somewhat smaller and with a more sandy and unobstructed bottom. It forms a circular and funnel-shaped pool about 45 feet across and 15-18 feet deep. Water flows from a couple of small limestone opening, and like the other springs is very clear and blue. The bottom is more sandy and firm than the other two springs. Land around this spring is semi-cleared and the site of a private residence.

The authors saw a couple of other small flow points/sand boils near the main springs or in the run, including one where the spring runs join to flow into the main canal. This combined spring run is about 10 feet wide, 3-5 feet deep, and flows about 100 feet to the main canal.

Use/Access

Local Springiana
According to news stories, the owner of the land around Three Sisters Spring is seeking permits to extract water from the springs to bottle and sell it. The owner initially sought a permit to extract 1.2 million gallons per day. The request was later reduced to 426,000 gallons per day, and the owner is considering building a bottling company near the site. The state has made offers to purchase the land, but cannot by law pay more than the appraised value which the owners say is far less than its true development value. Environmentalists have decried the potential extraction, saying it may harm the manatees that shelter at the site in the winter by lowering the temperature of the water. The owner pledges to monitor the temperature and cease pumping when the temperature is too cold, and notes that 426,000 gallons is only a fraction of the daily 12,000,000 gallon output of the springs. (St. Petersburg Times, August 9, 2000, February 4, 2001).  As of February 2003, the landowner was allowed by the SW Florida Water Management District to withdraw up to 100,000 gallons per day, and water had to be pumped from a site away from the spring.  If water levels drop so that manatees cannot access the springs, the water management can further restrict water extraction.

Personal Impressions
The Three Sisters are among the authors'™ top ten springs in Florida. Like a string of blue sapphires, they are spectacular blue oases of pristine water in an area that has become foul with pollution, algae blooms, and exotic plants. Although federal protection may mean the end of access for swimmers and divers, it would be worth it to preserve this unique site for manatees and for observation. The proposed water extraction might not hurt the manatees, but would be one more slip down the slope of development that has ravaged so many other springs in King'™s Bay and elsewhere. Efforts should continue to work with the landowners to continue to preserve the site as much as possible.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest

Contact Information
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
1502 SE King'™s Bay Drive
Crystal River, FL 34429
352-563-2088
 
 



Unnamed Banana Island Spring #1
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”poor (spring) to fine (adjacent island)
How Pristine?'”completely covered in exotics and algae
Swimming'”no
Protection'”excellent
Crowds'”none
Access'”good, boat only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”free

Directions
Located in a small alcove at the NE corner of Banana Island, just below the narrow pass between Banana and (NAME?) island to the NE. The spring is also almost directly west of Paradise Point'”see map.

Spring Description
The spring forms a semicircular alcove on the NE end of Banana Island. The spring area is about 45 feet across, and two small (1-2 feet in diameter) boils were observed at the surface through the thick exotic vegetation and algae. The depth of the vents could not be determined due to the vegetation and algae, but appeared to be around 4 feet outside of the spring area.

Use/Access
There is no use of the site. The nearby narrow channel between Banana Island and (NAME?) Island is a youth hangout. Youth anchor their boats and drink and cavort in the shallow water.

Personal Impressions
Another of several springs in King'™s Bay that are polluted and damaged by exotics to the point that they bear almost no resemblance to their historic conditions.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest

Contact Information
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
1502 SE King'™s Bay Drive
Crystal River, FL 34429
352-563-2088
 
 



Unnamed Banana Island Spring #2
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”unknown
Scenery'”good
How Pristine?'”algae and exotics in water
Swimming'”unknown
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”none
Access'”good, boat only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”free

Directions
The spring site is purported to be about 100 feet offshore from the SE tip of Banana Island, near the large National Wildlife Refuge sign'”see map.

Spring Description
The authors could not pinpoint this spring, to which they were directed by boaters/divers at nearby King'™s Spring. Conditions at date and time of visit (afternoon in May 2001) were windy and the water was not very clear. The authors were told the spring was "straight out" from the wildlife refuge sign at the SE tip of Banana Island. The water in this area was generally 4-5 feet deep, and no holes or clear spots were seen.

Use/Access
None apparent.

Personal Impressions
If there is a spring at this site, it is not described in Springs of Florida (Rosenau et al., 1977).

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest

Contact Information
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
1502 SE King'™s Bay Drive
Crystal River, FL 34429
352-563-2088
 
 


Unnamed Banana Island Springs #3-5
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”unknown
Scenery'”good
How Pristine?'”algae and exotics
Swimming'”fair
Protection'”within wildlife refuge
Crowds'”none
Access'”good, boat only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”very good, in no-wake zone
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”free

Directions
In a cluster just north of Banana Island within the no-wake zone and the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. The springs are nearest the little point of land that extends the furthest north from Banana Island'”see map.

Spring Description
The authors paddled over the area where these springs are supposed to be located, but could not see them. Conditions were windy, and the water was not very clear. The three springs are marked (but not named or described) on a map in Springs of Florida (Rosenau et al., 1977, p. 81).

Use/Access
None apparent. IF they still flow, the spring lie within a no-wake zone at the northern end of Banana Island. On date of visit, the authors observed that this restriction was widely ignored by boaters and waverunners.

Personal Impressions
As always, it is frustrating to be right where you know a spring to be but unable to see it. A visit under calm conditions and at low tide would probably be more fruitful.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest

Contact Information
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
1502 SE King'™s Bay Drive
Crystal River, FL 34429
352-563-2088
 
 



Unnamed King'™s Bay Spring Boils
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”fair
How Pristine?'”exotics and algae in water
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”none
Access'”good, boat only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”free

Directions
In alcove on east side of King'™s Bay about 100 yards NW of bridge over canal that leads SE to Three Sisters Springs and Idiot'™s Delight Springs'”see map.

Spring Description
At least five sand boils form and are located in a circular alcove adjacent to King'™s Bay. The boils are easy to spot as cleared sandy circles in the pool, which is about 90 feet in diameter. The boils are cleared sandy areas, from 1-3 feet in diameter, and are in various areas of the pool. Except for the boil area, the bottom is covered in algae and exotic vegetation. The water is about 4 feet deep and fairly clear. The boils are not strong enough to create a slick on the surface.

Land behind (to the east of) the pool is developed housing, and a dock extends from houses along one side of the pool.

Use/Access
It appears that the pool is a transit area for boats from the house into King'™s Bay.

Personal Impressions
The springs, alcove, exotic vegetation, algae, and adjacent development are not attractive.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest
 
 
 
 

B. Homosassa Springs Group

Homosassa Spring
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”1st magnitude
Scenery'”fine
How Pristine?'”former private attraction, now state wildlife park with underwater view platform, native animals, paths, and garden
Swimming'”no
Protection'”excellent
Crowds'”occasionally large, usually small
Access'”excellent
Facilities'”excellent
Safety'”excellent
Scuba'”no
Cost'”$9 per adult, $5 for children age 3-12

Directions
Located along U.S. 19 in Homosassa (main entrance to Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park). Alternatively, go directly to the spring by turning west onto Highway 490 (Halls river road in Homosassa. Go about ½ mile, then turn left (SW) unto Fish Bowl Drive and proceed less than a mile to the spring on the 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
The main source of the Homosassa River, Homosassa Spring forms a semicircular pool about 75 feet in diameter. Water flows from three limestone openings around a collapsed cavern at respective depths (as measured by Scott et al., 2002, p. 35) of 67, 65, and 62 feet.  Each of the three vents has a distinct chemical composition (Champion & Starks, May 2001, p. 57).  There are wide boils in the spring pool.  A circular limestone ledge is visible on the perimeter of the pool. Water in the spring, which is somewhat tidally affected, is clear and blue.  Fish are exceptionally abundant in the spring pool and include many marine species such as Crevalle Jack, catfish, striped bass, and sheepshead.  Several manatees are permanent residents of the spring as part of on-site rehabilitation and education programs.  An underwater observatory is built over the springhead.

The spring forms a run that flows nine miles to the Gulf of Mexico.  The upper part of the run is flanked by housing and other development.  The lower portion gives way to pine islands and salt marshes as it nears the Gulf.  The run widens, diffuses, becomes more salty, and has reduced visibility as it flows to the west.  According to Cherry et al. (1970), the various springs near Homosassa vary widely in chloride (salt) concentrations, suggesting there are several sources for the different flow points.  The chloride amounts in the spring flows also varies with the tide.

After flowing a short distance, the flow (104 cfs) from the main spring at Homosassa is joined by a nearly equal amount (89 cfs) of water flowing from several springs that form the Southeast Fork of the Homosassa River.  About a mile below the main spring, Halls River flows into the Homosassa River.  This spring-fed river has flow total of 162 cfs.  The Southwest Florida Water Management District combines all these springs and flows into the Homosassa Springs Group.  Nitrate levels at the spring have risen steadily over the past 30 years (Champion and Starks, May 2001, pp. 55-59).

Use/Access

Local Springiana Personal Impressions
The view from the underwater "Fishbowl" is almost astonishing'”a nearly solid but always moving and circling wall of fish.  This profusion, greater than the authors have seen in any spring other than the Natural Well at Silver Glen Springs, offers a glimpse and reminder of what many Florida springs were like before the days of development.

Nearby Springs
Other Homosassa Headwaters Springs
Echo (perhaps Trotter or McClain or Abdoney?) Spring
Bluebird Spring
Crystal River/King'™s Bay Springs Group
Chassahowitzka Springs Group
Rainbow Springs Group

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest

For more information:
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
4150 S. Suncoast Blvd.
Homosassa, Florida 34446
(352) 628-5343
Web site: www.HomosassaSprings.org
 

An Essay on Homosassa Springs
One March in the late 1990s, my family and some friends drove to Homosassa to see the manatees. We brought canoes and rented a boat, and after the weather cleared made our way upriver to a wide shallow area outside the Homosassa springhead and wildlife state park. There were about 15 manatees there, and we had a glorious time watching and getting into the water with them. Several of us were able to get close enough to touch one.

We learned that Homosassa is one of a decreasing number of winter sanctuaries for manatees. Despite all their blubber, manatees cannot tolerate water temperatures below about 65 degrees. So they have for eons wintered in Florida springs, which maintain more or less constant temperatures.

Manatees look slow from a boat, but are uncomfortably swift when you'™re in the water and suddenly see one heading your way. At such times their great bulk--up to 13 feet and 3,000 pounds--commands your undivided attention. They are placid but not tame, and paid us little mind, eating and napping as if we weren'™t there.

Evolving over millions of years, manatees are now condemned by the traits that served them so well until we came along. With no natural predators, they have no defenses. They did not need to worry about propellers in the past, and so never developed rapid flight mechanisms to get out of harm'™s way. They are not like squirrels or pigeons who adapt to having their habitat transmogrified into human work and leisure spaces.

We returned to see the manatees this winter. The weather was pleasant, and we headed to the springhead in the morning. The nice weather attracted another big mammal to the spring; people were everywhere. Outfitters were bringing folks to see the manatees by the pontoon boat-full. Starting at dawn, an unending string of watercraft made their way to the spring to disgorge snorkelers in rented wet-suits as part of weekend "swim-with-the-manatees" package deals.

There were only 2-3 manatees in the area. They can be hard to spot, but today all you had to do was look for the crowd. Each was engulfed by people determined to lay their hands on the placid giants. We were told not to chase, corner, ride, grab, herd, block, separate, or otherwise harass the manatees. The groups in the water were doing nearly all these things.

We had several children along, and I paddled them over to get a look at a mother and baby manatee that were encircled by a phalanx of divers about 45 feet away. Excited, the children jumped into the water. The person in charge of the pontoon boat shouted at the kids: "Don'™t jump into the water. You'™ll scare the manatees away!" She said it a second and then a third time, raising her voice over the tumult of her group, who were doing everything but copulating with the two manatees they had surrounded.

I yelled back that her people were harassing the manatees. She replied it was all right to put one hand on them, but if 15 people do it at once, a one-hand restriction is meaningless. She then got in, chasing the mother and baby until they got around her into the sanctuary of the state park. She then sanctimoniously raised her hands and said no one must follow them. "They know they'™re safe in there," she intoned.

We moved off. Those of us who had seen the manatees a year before felt sick to our stomachs. This then, is the gauntlet the manatees face every winter weekend in the springs. Perhaps not every outfitter was as bad as the one we saw. Perhaps the manatees don'™t mind being mobbed and it is a conceit to anthropomorphise them. But it did not look right. The manatees were being loved to death.

I thought again. A year ago I had done the same thing. I had gotten in the water with manatees and I had been thrilled to touch one. I was dressed as the other people in the water were and had come out on a rented boat as they had. What we saw was merely a large-scale version of what we had done ourselves a year before.

So what is the answer? First, people need to observe the rules of interaction with manatees and not let their enthusiasm overtake them. There are several captive manatees in the Homosassa Wildlife Park that can be seen up close year '˜round. Seeing them so close and vulnerable makes one want to protect them. Protection can take many forms, including supporting preservation efforts and motoring slowly in manatee zones. It also means not developing every inch of land surrounding manatee habitat.

Ultimately, we are responsible for the fate of the manatee. We can ensure our grandchildren'™s grandchildren will see them 100 years hence, or we can pleasure ourselves now and have only stories about manatees to tell in the future.
 
 


Pumphouse Spring
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”very good
How Pristine?'”next to road in residential neighborhood, adjacent to pumphouse
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”none
Access'”on private property, but may be viewed from the
Facilities'”none
Safety'”excellent
Scuba'”no
Cost'”free

Directions
From U.S. 19 in Homosassa, turn west onto Highway 490 (Halls River Road). After about ½ mile, turn left onto Fish Bowl Road. Go about 1 mile, passing entrance to Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park, continuing over a spring run on a small bridge. 100 yards after the bridge, turn left onto Spring Cove Road. The spring is on the left, adjacent to a small building/pumphouse, at 9299 Spring Cove Road.

Spring Description
The spring is in a low spot in a deep subtropical forest area that is mostly developed for residential housing.  The spring is 15-20 feet in diameter and surrounded on three sides by a low concrete retaining wall that forms it into a ¾ s quare. Water flows strongly from at least two points from crevices between exposed limestone rocks/boulders.  There is algae on the limestone, and the water is 1-2 feet deep, clear, and has a sulfur odor.

The spring forms a run slightly wider than the spring that flows under Fish Bowl Road and into the Homosassa River.  The run is joined by the flow of Echo Spring nearby.  The spring is canopied by hardwood trees, and there is a small structure immediately adjacent to the spring that appears to be a building for pumping water.

Rosenau et al., refer to this spring and nearby Echo (perhaps Trotter or McClain or Abdoney?) Spring as the Southeast Fork of Homosassa Springs (1977, p. 84). The average combined flow of this spring and Echo (perhaps Trotter or McClain or Abdoney?) was 69.1 cubic feet per second, or about 45 million gallons per day.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
The spring is attractive and worth a visit.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest
 
 



Echo (perhaps Trotter or McClain or Abdoney?) Spring
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”poor
How Pristine?'”surrounded by houses, docks in spring and run
Protection'”unknown
Access'”no land access

Directions
From U.S. 19 in Homosassa, turn west onto Highway 490 (Halls River Road). After about ½ mile, turn left onto Fish Bowl Road. Go about 1 mile, passing entrance to Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park, continuing over a spring run on a small bridge. The spring is on the left, about 80 yards past the bridge, in the back yard of several houses. The spring can also be viewed from Spring Cove Road. 100 yards after the bridge, turn left onto Spring Cove Road. The spring is on the left, behind two houses, at 9491 Spring Cove Road.

Spring Description
The spring is surrounded by private property and there is no land access. From the road, it appeared to be a semicircular pool about 40 feet in diameter. The depth and clarity of the water could not be determined. The spring forms a run of the same width as the pool that flows a short distance (perhaps 300 feet) and then joins the run of the other Homosassa Headwaters Spring. This combined run then flows under Fish Bowl Road and into the Homosassa River.

Rosenau et al., refer to this spring and the other Homosassa Headwaters Spring as the Southeast Fork of Homosassa Springs (1977, p. 84). The average combined flow of this spring and the other Headwaters Spring was 69.1 cubic feet per second, or about 45 million gallons per day.

Use/Access
The spring and run may be used for swimming by the houses that surround it. Its run is used like a canal for boats from the houses to access the Homosassa River. JF was not able to get a good view of the spring to photograph it, even when he stood on his car.

Local Springiana

Personal Impressions
As with Sandbag Spring and numerous other springs in Florida, access to Echo is blocked by landowners who do not (and cannot) actually own the spring itself.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest
 
 



Bluebird Spring
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”fair
How Pristine?'”exotics in water, retaining wall, land cleared for park
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”can be large on warm weekends
Access'”excellent
Facilities'”very good
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”free

Directions
From U.S. 19 in Homosassa, turn south onto Highway 480 (Yulee Drive). Continue about a mile, then turn left onto Blue Bird Springs Road. There is a sign for the park at the turn.

Spring Description
The spring forms a large oval pool that is about 225 feet long and 120 feet wide.  One side of the spring has a low concrete retaining wall, and a portion is also fenced in one corner by the retaining wall.*  The flow point or points in the pool could not be determined, as the pool was filled with exotic vegetation and there was no boil on the surface.  The depth could not be determined with any accuracy, but the water was clear to a depth of 4-5 feet.  There were herons and turtles in the pool.  Land around the pool has been cleared to create a municipal park.

There is some trash in the pool and run.  Water flows from the main pool area to form a run that is initially about 100 feet wide.  After about 200 feet, the run narrows to about 15 feet across and 2-3 feet deep.

Use/Access

Local Springiana
The owner of a local hotel in Homosassa told the authors that Bluebird Spring no longer flows. However, water was flowing from the pool into the creek when JF visited the site in April 2001.

Personal Impressions
The spring and park are not attractive.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest
 
 

Hidden River Head Spring
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”unknown
Scenery'”excellent
How Pristine?'”very pristine
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”small-none
Access'”by water only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”unknown
Scuba'”no
Cost'”free

Directions
The authors have not visited this spring and cannot provide directions.  The latitude is 28.46.07.357 and the longitude is 82.34.59.689.

Spring Description
Having not visited this spring, the authors rely on the description provided by Champion & Starks:

Hidden River Head spring is found at the upstream end of Hidden River, approximately four beet below the water surface in a small circular depression, five feet in diameter.  The spring is located about two miles south of Homosassa Springs.  Hidden River flows overland approximately two miles before sinking underground and entering the Homosassa River downstream from Homosassa Springs.  The spring is tidally influenced (May 2001, p. 62).
 

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest
 
 

Hall's River Head Spring
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”unknown
Scenery'”fine
How Pristine?'”pristine, but near major highway and development
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”small
Access'”fair, boat only
Facilities'”very good nearby
Safety'”good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”small launch fee

Directions
From intersection of SR 490A and U.S. 19 in Homosassa, go north on U.S. 19 for approximately (not measured) 2 miles.  Look for sign for Riversport Kayaks at 2300 S. Suncoast Boulevard.  Put in at boat launch and take canal to main channel of Hall's River; proceed upriver to headwaters, a total distance of perhaps a mile.  Lat. 28.49.36.509, Long. 82.34.49.176.

Spring Description
The authors have not yet visited this spring, so rely on the description provided by Champion & Starks:

Hall's River Head Spring is located at the upstream end of Hall's River, a 2.5 mile long tributary of the Homosassa River.  Many springs in Hall's River are hard to locate due to the width, shallowness, and vegetation in the river.  The spring pool is approximately 200 feet across and contains a few sand boils, but no obvious vent or boil at the water surface.  The spring is tidally influenced (May 2001, p. 63).

Use/Access
Due to the difficulty of reaching the headwaters, the site is little-visited.  However, it is not a great distance from the boat launch, which also rents canoes and kayaks for either half a day or all day.  The rental site also had a good map of the area that could be used for reference.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Withlacoochie State Forest

For more information:
Riversport Kayaks
2300 S. Suncoast Boulevard
Homosassa, FL  34448
352-621-4972
Toll-free 877-660-0929
www.flakayak.com
 

C. Chassahowitzka River Springs Group

An Essay on the Chassahowitzka
At the southern tip of Florida'™s Big Bend is the Chassahowitzka River and National Wildlife Refuge.  Halfway between Crystal River and Weeki Wachee, the Refuge is a sprawling 31,000 acres of marshes, swamps, springs, estuaries, islands, and bays.

Imagine Crystal River and Panama City before the people.  Imagine springs creating a clear jungle river to the Gulf and hosting bear, eagle, falcon, otter, bobcat, manatee, sea turtles, and gators. Picture multiple inlets feeding the river--each born from a deep-woods spring--and 100 islands in the river delta.  This is the Chassahowitzka (pronounced "Chaz-wits'™-kuh"), preserved for all and accessible only by boat.

The Chassahowitzka River Wildlife Refuge begins about four miles downriver, and this area is exceptionally pristine.  The upper and more accessible portion is also beautiful, but has more human traffic. In addition, there is increasing pollution in the springs from nearby septic tanks.  There is no public water or sewer system in the area, and some sewage percolates into the aquifer that feeds the springs.  If the situation worsens, swimming will have to be restricted'”the situation needs to be addressed here as well as near the Homosassa and Crystal Rivers.

When a business trip took me from Tallahassee to St. Pete, I decided to leave early, canoe the Chas., then change and make my 2:00 appointment.  I departed at 5:30 a.m. and was at the Chassahowitzka River Campground three hours later renting a canoe for four hours.

Armed with a map from the camp store, I pushed off.  The main spring is in the river by the ramp, about 30 feet down, and kind of hard to see. Just upriver in a little run, however, is one of the most unique spring groups in Florida.  Framed by trees and about 40 by 150 feet, the shallow spring pool reveals a series of interconnected, glowing blue limestone solution holes.  Kids were diving into them and swimming underwater from one to another, popping up like that gopher in Caddyshack.

Promising myself I'™d come back to the holes, I headed downstream.  The foliage is dense and tropical, and wild rice waves in the morning breeze.  Three more pretty springs lay at the head of another run 100 yards downriver.  There is another just past there, although it is a vigorous paddle in the canopy for 15 minutes through shallow water to reach it.

I was in heaven! In 30 minutes I had photographed 10 springs.  I plowed downriver for more, not realizing the easy part was over. The Chas had provided free samples; questing for more would exact a price.  Entering a small cove, I ported over a fallen tree blocking a spring run, polling upstream until the water became too shallow.  I stepped out; my shins disappeared into mud.  The springhead couldn'™t be far, I figured, and concentrated alternately on placing on my next step and looking far ahead for the spring vent.

In the middle space, a five-foot moccasin was roused.  I did not see it rear up a foot above the muck like a cobra, but did see it poised that way from 12 feet.  We contemplated each other for a moment, then it broke away and I scrambled for a paddle.  I continued forward another 50 feet before giving up and heading back to the river.

The next inlet was more promising.  Undulating for 20 minutes through marshes and oak, it led to a 40-foot long spring vent shaped like a lightening bolt. It had the perfect name'”"the Crack"'”and its pale blueness offered stark contrast to the brown and green around it. I changed film and paddled back to the river and downstream.

Salt Creek inlet promised more springs.  The river here'”just outside the refuge'”is shallow and clear. Fisherman and families relaxed in the spectacular scenery.  In fact, everyone was having a good time but me, as I obsessed on finding springs. The creek branched off.  I tried one route, but wound up in a bug-filled dead-end.

Then I saw a spring run.  More mud, and my previous herpetological encounter made me cautious.  But I had to photograph the spring. Spying a topless and leaning sabal palm, I shimmied 10 feet up and tried to see the springhead from altitude.  As I stood, I heard "crick-crick."  The trunk was about to snap.  I tried to back down but was too slow.  The trunk broke; the mud beckoned below'”full of rotting vegetation and gases.  I landed with a flatulent plop.  The camera was ruined; nearby birds and bugs were stunned into silence.

I had to hustle back, so I paddled out the creek and the 45 minutes upriver without cleaning off.  I looked and smelled like I had rolled in manure.  People in other boats looked but made no comment.  The tide was now out, and the water was shallow and difficult paddling.  Now the solution holes became my bathtub, and I scrubbed clean in the upwelling flow.  I made the meeting with one minute to spare, and forgot to mention the tree episode.  When you visit the Chassahowitzka, relax and enjoy the sights.  That'™s what I'™ll do, next time.
 
 

Chassahowitzka Main Spring (or Devil'™s Punchbowl)
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”1st magnitude
Scenery'”good-excellent
How Pristine?'”near developed area; spring pristine
Swimming'”no, lies in boat lane
Protection'”very good
Crowds'”boat traffic over spring
Access'”very good
Facilities'”excellent
Safety'”fine
Scuba'”no
Cost'”$1.50 to park; more for canoe/boat rental

Directions
From intersection of U.S. 19 and U.S. 98, go west on Highway 480, a.k.a. Miss Maggie's Drive. Follow 1.7 miles to the end, passing small homes and the Chassahowitzka River Lodge on the right. Turn right at signs for the Chassahowitzka River Campground and follow to headwaters. From the boat ramp, go upstream about 100 feet to the spring, in the middle upper portion of the basin.

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 spring is the headwaters of the Chassahowitzka River.  The opening appears to be about 25 feet deep, and the water is fairly clear.  Flow from a long (about 20 feet) vent creates large, mild boils on the surface, and large fish may be seen swimming in the water.  The spring forms an oval pool that is about 100 feet across and 175 feet long.  Behind the spring (to the east), another spring run and a manmade canal enter the spring pool.  Land to the north, west, and southwest of the pool is undeveloped and is marsh, hardwood swamp, floodplain forest, and abundant in wildlife.  The depth and freshness of the water vary with the tide.  There is housing and development to the east and south.

Use/Access

Local Springiana Personal Impressions
The Chassahowitzka is still virtually unspoiled.  The main spring is a little hard to see without diving, which is not allowed, and is therefore actually one of the least interesting sights in this lovely area.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Withlacoochie State Forest
Fort Cooper State Park
Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
Crystal River State Archeological Site
Rainbow Springs State Park
Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge
 
 




Chassahowitzka Solution Holes (or Chassahowitzka #1)
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”excellent
How Pristine?'”development nearby, springs pristine
Swimming'”fine
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”some on warm weekends
Access'”good, boat only
Facilities'”excellent nearby
Safety'”bottom slippery and sharp, otherwise very good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”$1.50 to park nearby, more to rent canoe or boat

Directions
From intersection of U.S. 19 and U.S. 98, go west on Highway 480, a.k.a. Miss Maggie's Drive. Follow 1.7 miles to the end, passing small homes and the Chassahowitzka River Lodge on the right. Turn right at signs for the Chassahowitzka River Campground and follow to headwaters. From the boat ramp, go upstream to the right (east) behind the main spring basin and into the manmade channel about 50 feet. Turn left into run and the solution holes are in the 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
There are two series of interconnected solutions holes in the limestone bottom of the spring run.  The first series is about 75 feet into the run, just off the center of the run (on the west side), which is 40-50 feet wide and 1-2 feet deep in most places.  The first series has about 6 circular holes in a general line along 30 feet in the run.  The diameters of the holes range from two to six feet.  The main flow appears to be from the largest hole, but the authors did not determine how many of the holes had actual vents and how many were flowing because they were connected beneath the surface.  Underwater tunnels connects several of the holes at a depth of about 6 feet, and the diameter of the tunnel ranges from 2-4 feet.

A second series of solution holes lies in the back of the run, about 75 feet behind the first set.  Two holes are flowing, with the largest one appearing to be the main flow point.  These holes are also connected by an underwater passageway which is about 5 feet deep.  Champion & Starks refer only to these two holes at the head of the run and state that the vent is located between them (May 2001, p. 69).  However, water is clearly flowing out of several other holes in the run as much as 75-100 feet away.  There are other flow points in the run, particularly between the sets of solution holes on the east side.

Water flowing from the springs is clear and the holes fairly radiate and can glow a deep blue in the sunlight.  Boils can be seen from several of the holes.  The authors could not determine the actual number of flow points, but there are nearly 10 solution holes and 2-3 other visible vents.  Depending on conditions and the time of year, the bottom can be bare limestone, partially vegetated, or heavily vegetated. There is also algae in the run.  A PVC pipe runs along the bottom of the lower part of the run and appears to be drawing water from the springs.

The total run length is about 175 feet and flows into the back of the Chassahowitzka Spring main basin.  The land around the run is dense floodplain forest and swamp habitat.  There is another spring run that feeds into the Solution Holes run at the back (north) end. Its clear water suggests it is also from a spring (see Unnamed Spring behind Chassahowitzka Solution Holes).

Use/Access

Local Springiana Personal Impressions
The solution holes look like no other springs the authors have ever seen.  The site of them on a sunny day is unforgettable; they seem more to give off blue light than to absorb or reflect it.  The swim-able underwater passageways are another unique and delightful feature.  The springs are a must-see for any spring aficionado.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Withlacoochie State Forest
Fort Cooper State Park
Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
Crystal River State Archeological Site
Rainbow Springs State Park
Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge
 
 




Unnamed Spring behind Chassahowitzka Solution Holes
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”outstanding
How Pristine?'” completely pristine
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”none
Access'”arduous
Facilities'”none
Safety'”unknown
Scuba'”no
Cost'”$1.50 to park at nearby campground, fee to rent canoe

Directions
From intersection of U.S. 19 and U.S. 98, go west on Highway 480, a.k.a. Miss Maggie's Drive.  Follow 1.7 miles to the end, passing small homes and the Chassahowitzka River Lodge on the right.  Turn right at signs for the Chassahowitzka River Campground and follow to headwaters.  From the boat ramp, go upstream to the right (east) behind the main spring basin and into the manmade channel about 50 feet.  Turn left into the spring run with the solution holes. The mouth of this spring'™s run is at the back end of the solution holes.  Walk up or along run an undetermined distance (more than ¼ mile) to spring.

Spring Description
The authors have not yet reached the head of this spring, the mouth of which is at the back of the spring run for the Chassahowitzka Solution Holes.  JF waded up the run approximately ¼ mile before turning back, and the spring was not in sight.  The run is only a few inches deep in most places, with a few deeper holes, and is not navigable due to shallowness as well as frequent obstructions and tight turns.  The bottom of the run is sandy, muddy, and often very soft.  The land around the run is dense floodplain forest and swampy.  Water in the run is clear.  The authors estimate the flow to be either low 2nd magnitude or high 3rd magnitude.

Use/Access

Local Springiana
The authors have not found any written references to this spring.

Personal Impressions
The authors would very much like to see this spring.  It would be useful to know whether the run is 1/3 mile, ½ mile, 1 mile, or 5 miles in length.  JF's estimate is that it is less than a mile unless the run turns north away from U.S. 19.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Withlacoochie State Forest
Fort Cooper State Park
Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
Crystal River State Archeological Site
Rainbow Springs State Park
Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge
 
 




Crab Creek (or Crab or McCrabb or Three Sisters) Springs
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”very good
How Pristine?'”houses and dock adjacent to springs
Swimming'”fair-poor
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”occasional boaters
Access'”boat only, no land access
Facilities'”excellent nearby
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”unknown
Cost'”$1.50 to park nearby, more to rent boat or canoe

Directions
From intersection of U.S. 19 and U.S. 98, go west on Highway 480, a.k.a. Miss Maggie's Drive. Follow 1.7 miles to the end, passing small homes and the Chassahowitzka River Lodge on the right. Turn right at signs for the Chassahowitzka River Campground and follow to headwaters. From the boat ramp, go downriver about 250 feet and then go right or north into Crab Creek and about 200 feet to the springs on the west side and at the back of the 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
Three spring vents are located at the back end of Crab Creek. Each is a limestone opening amid aquatic vegetation.  The depths of the vents vary but appear to be 6-10 feet.  There are strong slicks or boils from each opening, and fish swim in the vent areas.  The water is milky, and there are chalky deposits on the vegetation around the springs.  Champion & Starks note that one of the vents formed in the 1980s (May 2001, p. 70).

The springs create a short run called Crab Creek, which is about 80 feet wide and 300 feet in length. The depth and salinity of the run varies with the tide.  The run is richly vegetated and the surrounding land is dense forest and swamp.  Two houses are located adjacent to the springs, and there is a dock near the back spring.  Herons, vultures, kingfishers, and other birds are commonly seen.

DeLoach (1997) calls these springs the Three Sisters and notes that they may be dived to depths of up to 20 feet (p. 115).

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
The milky water emanating from the springs led the authors to puzzle over what minerals/dissolved solids are in the water.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Withlacoochie State Forest
Fort Cooper State Park
Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
Crystal River State Archeological Site
Rainbow Springs State Park
Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge
 
 



Lettuce Spring
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”excellent in run, fair at spring
How Pristine?'”pristine run, house at spring
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”none
Access'”difficult, boat only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”unknown
Scuba'”no
Cost'”free

Directions
From intersection of U.S. 19 and U.S. 98, go west on Highway 480, a.k.a. Miss Maggie's Drive.  Follow 1.7 miles to the end, passing small homes and the Chassahowitzka River Lodge on the right.  Turn right at signs for the Chassahowitzka River Campground and follow to headwaters.  From the boat ramp, go downriver 1-2 minutes from the mouth of Crab Creek, past stand of wild rice on the left, and look for small entrance/mouth of Lettuce Spring run. Paddle up run ½ mile or so to 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 in a cleared area after a run through dense floodplain forest and subtropical vegetation.  The spring forms an oval pool about 20 by 40 feet.  The spring issues from a small vent at the back right corner of the pool as you enter from the run.  There is a rock retaining wall on the developed side of the spring.  Water flows from a small opening that appears to be 4-5 feet deep.  On the two times the authors visited (in 1999 and 2000), the pool was filled with aquatic vegetation except at the vent.  Water in the pool is milky and bluish at the vent only.  A small house is adjacent to the spring and about 30 feet from the pool.  The run is 4-10 feet wide, varies in depth with the tide from a few inches to 2 feet, and is somewhat obstructed.  The run splits just outside the spring pool, and the smaller, unnavigable run seems to join the main run further downstream.  Heavy vegetation at the mouth of the run can make spotting the run and access to it somewhat difficult.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
The development around the pool is unattractive, the retaining wall is an unnatural jolt compared to the pristine run, and the vegetation-choked pool is a disappointment after the exertion required to reach the pool.  The run is very wild and natural.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Withlacoochie State Forest
Fort Cooper State Park
Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
Crystal River State Archeological Site
Rainbow Springs State Park
Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge
 
 




Houseboat Spring*
Citrus County

*Note:  While DeLoach calls this spring "Houseboat" and the main spring at the back of Baird Creek "Blue," other sources reverse the names.  The authors of this document have not determined which name is the correct one for each of the two springs.

Summary of Features
Scale'”unknown
Scenery'”fine
How Pristine?'”very pristine
Swimming'”fair, fine snorkeling
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”boats and fishermen in small numbers
Access'”very good, boat only
Facilities'”excellent nearby
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”$1.50 to park nearby, more to rent canoe or boat

Directions
From intersection of U.S. 19 and U.S. 98, go west on Highway 480, a.k.a. Miss Maggie's Drive. Follow 1.7 miles to the end, passing small homes and the Chassahowitzka River Lodge on the right. Turn right at signs for the Chassahowitzka River Campground and follow to headwaters. From the boat ramp, go downriver about 1/3 mile and look for spring basin opening on the left (south).

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 a circular cove or bay that is about 150 feet in diameter and over 20 feet deep.  Flow is clear and from small limestone openings on the bottom, but is not sufficiently strong or great to make the bottom visible from the surface.  JF was told by a diver that this spring reverses when the tide is high.  There is aquatic vegetation in the pool, and fish, including mullet and needlefish, are abundant.  There was no visible boil on dates of visit in 1999 and 2000.  The pool opens directly to the river.

At the back (SW) end of the spring basin, another spring run enters the cove.  On dates of visit in 1999 and 2000, a large fallen tree blocked this run.  The run is backed up by the blockage and ranges from 2 feet to only a few inches deep.  Vegetation is heavy in the run, which is muddy and obstructed.  The run extends further than 1/8 mile, the extent to which it was entered by JF.  JF observed a large moccasin in the run at close range while he was wading in knee-deep mud, which discouraged further exploration.

Use/Access

Local Springiana
The spring name is apparently derived from a houseboat that sunk in the basin at one time.  No boat is visible today, and as noted above this spring may actually be Blue Spring.

Personal Impressions

Nearby Springs Other Nearby Natural Features
Withlacoochie State Forest
Fort Cooper State Park
Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
Crystal River State Archeological Site
Rainbow Springs State Park
Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge
 
 



Blue Spring*
Citrus County

*Note:  While DeLoach calls this spring "Blue" and the main spring/sink at the back of Baird Creek "Houseboat," other sources reverse the names.  The authors of this document have not determined which name is the correct one for each of the two springs.  To further complicate identification, Champion & Starks (May 2001, p. 71) do not identify a spring at this site at all, but only describe the Crack (they call it Baird Spring) located several hundred feet behind this pool.

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”excellent
How Pristine?'”very pristine, old rope swing on tree nearby
Swimming'”good-excellent snorkeling
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”few
Access'”good, canoe only
Facilities'”excellent at nearby campground
Safety'”good
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”$1.50 to park, extra to rent canoe

Directions
From intersection of U.S. 19 and U.S. 98, go west on Highway 480, a.k.a. Miss Maggie's Drive. Follow 1.7 miles to the end, passing small homes and the Chassahowitzka River Lodge on the right. Turn right at signs for the Chassahowitzka River Campground and follow to headwaters. From the boat ramp, go downriver about ½ mile and then turn south (left) into either of two openings of Baird Creek, which flows around a tiny island at the mouth of the run. Paddle up main channel for ½ mile to the Blue Spring basin. The basin is basically at the head of the run, although there are 2-3 smaller basins to its immediate right (west) and a small run at the back of Blue Spring that winds back another 200-250 yards to The Crack (a.k.a. "Miss Maggie'™s Crack").

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 a large circular basin that is about 100 feet across and 25 feet deep.  As with Houseboat Spring nearby, water flows from limestone openings on the bottom.  The limestone is visible from the surface, but JF did not dive into the site to verfiy that it was flowing and indeed a spring.  No boil is visible.  The water is milky blue and has schools of mullet and needlefish.  There is brown algae on the bottom, which may account for the milky color of the water.  A diver told JF that this spring reverses at high tide, that this spring is actually Houseboat Spring, and that the boat is no longer on the bottom.

Land around the spring is subtropical forest and marsh and has abundant wildlife including herons, fish, crabs, vultures, hawks, kingfishers, and snakes.  Evidence of alligator paths was also observed.  There are 2-3 other pools to the west of the main basin.  These smaller pools are also circular, and exposed limestone is visible in at least one of them, suggesting it might be another spring, a sink, or perhaps spring that that reverses with the tide.

According to DeLoach (1997), there is a "large sunken boat" at the bottom of this spring (p. 115).  The authors did not see it but also did not know to look for it.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
The spring and its run are very pristine and scenic.  The run passes through a mix of habitats including marsh, semitropical forest, canopied canoe trail, and open paddling.  The run teems with mullet, needlefish, blue crab, herons, kingfishers, snakes, and other fauna and flora.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Withlacoochie State Forest
Fort Cooper State Park
Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
Crystal River State Archeological Site
Rainbow Springs State Park
Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge
 
 



The Crack (or Miss Maggie'™s Crack or Baird) Spring
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”excellent-outstanding
How Pristine?'”evidence of campfires, otherwise pristine
Swimming'”fair
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”few
Access'”fair-good, canoe only
Facilities'”excellent at nearby campground
Safety'”good
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”$1.50 to park, extra to rent canoe

Directions
From intersection of U.S. 19 and U.S. 98, go west on Highway 480, a.k.a. Miss Maggie's Drive.  Follow 1.7 miles to the end, passing small homes and the Chassahowitzka River Lodge on the right.  Turn right at signs for the Chassahowitzka River Campground and follow to headwaters.  From the boat ramp, go downriver about ½ mile and then turn south (left) into either of two openings of Baird Creek, which flows around a tiny island at the mouth of the run.  Paddle up main channel for ½ mile to large basin for Blue Spring.  Pass through a narrow opening at the back right of the pool and continue upstream another 100 yards until the creek is too shallow to navigate.  Walk up the creek another 250 feet to the spring.

Apparently, the spring may also be accessed by land, but the authors have not visited it this way and do not know how to reach it by land.

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 Crack is a zigzag, lightning bolt-shaped fissure set perpendicular to the creek it creates like the top of a capital "T." The fissure is about 35 feet long and 3-8 feet wide. It slopes downward to a visual depth of at least 15 feet. The spring forms a roughly oval pool around the fissure with depths of 2-4 feet and overall dimensions of 30 by 60 feet. Water in the spring is clear and blue over the fissure. Small fish congregate in the pool and crack. The spring lies in dense semitropical forest/jungle. There is a slight path around the spring and a small area on the bank where campfires have been made in the past.

The spring initially forms a shallow (6" on average) canopied creek that flows 100 yards before turning, deepening, widening, and flowing another 100-150 yards to the Blue Spring basin and thence to Baird Creek and the Chassahowitzka River.

Use/Access

Local Springiana
"Miss Maggie" owned the original public campground at the headwaters of the Chassahowitzka River.

Personal Impressions
The spring and its runs are superlative sights.  The lower run is a lovely combination of marsh, semitropical forest, canopied canoe trail, and open paddling.  The run teems with mullet, needlefish, blue crab, herons, kingfishers, snakes, and other fauna and flora.  The final section, the portion that must be walked in the shallow creek, is almost breathtaking in its pristine beauty.  Sunlight shafts through the canopy and into the sparkling and bubbling water, minnows dart at your feet, birds flit about in the surrounding canopy, and the spring is revealed through a curtain of foliage as a startling blue oasis in a surrounding world of brown and green.  It is worth returning to repeatedly as an expression of how the forces of nature can conspire to create a living aesthetic vision.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Withlacoochie State Forest
Fort Cooper State Park
Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
Crystal River State Archeological Site
Rainbow Springs State Park
Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge
 
 




Salt Creek Springs
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”fine
How Pristine?'”completely pristine
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”none
Access'”good to very difficult (depending on tide), canoe only
Facilities'”none near spring, excellent at campground 2 miles away
Safety'”good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”$1.50 to park at campground, extra to rent boat or canoe

Directions
From intersection of U.S. 19 and U.S. 98, go west on Highway 480, a.k.a. Miss Maggie's Drive.  Follow 1.7 miles to the end, passing small homes and the Chassahowitzka River Lodge on the right.  Turn right at signs for the Chassahowitzka River Campground and follow to headwaters.  From the boat ramp, go downriver about 1.5 miles, passing around two forest-covered islands.  Turn right or north into Salt Creek on the right (north) side of a third forest-covered island.  Staying in the main channel, go another ½ mile, bearing to the right until a short left turn just before the springs at the headwaters of the creek.

Note:  The shorter route to Salt Creek is to the right (NE) of the islands.  However, the water is shallower on this side and can be only barely navigable by canoe in low tide conditions.

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
In two visits, JF ventured into Salt Creek but could not definitively identify the three springs described in Wetterhall (1965, pp. 39-40) and based on his reconnaissance in 1961.  Wetterhall describes the headspring as being at the back of the creek and about four feet wide, the second spring located 50 feet downstream near the north bank, and the third spring flowing "probably" from beneath the bank on the south side another 75 feet downstream (p. 40).

JF presumed he had found the headwaters, but may have been in another channel.  On the south side of the creek, about ¼ mile from the presumed headwaters, a clear spring run enters the creek from the south.  Its clarity was a stark contrast to the darker water in the creek, and it was a lower temperature.  On both visits, JF tried to find the spring at the head of this small run but without success.  The bottom is very muddy, the water is knee-deep, easily stirred, and overhung with low foliage.

As related in the essay for the Chassahowitzka River, it was at this site that JF shimmied up a palm trunk to try and spy the springhead.  The trunk snapped and he fell into the mudflat adjacent to the creek, breaking his camera.  On the second visit, with his brother, the tide was higher and they attempted to canoe up the run.  Again, however, the water was too shallow and the run too winding and obstructed and they and gave up.

JF saw 2-3 sites at the presumed back of the creek that formed and which may be the spring cited by Wetterhall.  The water was murky, and no flow was observed.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
Based on the old description, the springs are probably not much to look at, but the author was very frustrated to paddle so long and far, break a camera, get stuck in bug-filled backwaters, become plastered in mud, etc., and not definitively find a single spring for it!

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Withlacoochie State Forest
Fort Cooper State Park
Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
Crystal River State Archeological Site
Rainbow Springs State Park
Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge
 
 




Potter Spring
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”fine-excellent
How Pristine?'”completely pristine
Swimming'”poor
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”none
Access'”good-arduous (depending on tide), canoe only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”good
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”$1.50 to park at campground, extra to rent boat or canoe

Directions
From intersection of U.S. 19 and U.S. 98, go west on Highway 480, a.k.a. Miss Maggie's Drive.  Follow 1.7 miles to the end, passing small homes and the Chassahowitzka River Lodge on the right.  Turn right at signs for the Chassahowitzka River Campground and follow to headwaters.  From the boat ramp, go downriver about two miles, passing the three tree-covered islands and the remains of an old railroad trestle that once crossed the river.  The creek is over 300 feet wide at this point, and estuary-like.  After the trestle, move to the right (north) side of the river and go perhaps another 800-1,000 feet to mouth of Potter Creek. Paddle (or pole/plow in low tide) up the creek about ¾ mile to the spring at the creek'™s headwaters.  The water gets somewhat deeper in the run.  The bottom becomes shallow and rocky near 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 a semicircular, milky green pool about 100 feet across.  There is a large boil on the surface; the bottom is not visible but has been measured as 17 feet deep (Rosenau et al., 1977, p. 90).  Below the pool, the run is initially shallow and rocky, but gradually deepens and the bottom becomes sandy and vegetated.  Land around the spring and along the run is dense subtropical forest.  Herons, egrets, and other waterfowl may be seen in the water and in the trees. Blue crabs were observed in the run.  Flow from Ruth Spring enters the back (north) end of the spring from a small opening.

Use/Access

Nearby Springs Other Nearby Natural Features
Withlacoochie State Forest
Fort Cooper State Park
Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
Crystal River State Archeological Site
Rainbow Springs State Park
Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge
 
 

Ruth Spring
Citrus County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”excellent
How Pristine?'”utterly wild and pristine
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”none
Access'”arduous
Facilities'”none at spring, excellent at nearby campground
Safety'”fair to poor
Scuba'”no
Cost'”$1.50 to park at campground, extra to rent canoe

Directions
From intersection of U.S. 19 and U.S. 98, go west on Highway 480, a.k.a. Miss Maggie's Drive.  Follow 1.7 miles to the end, passing small homes and the Chassahowitzka River Lodge on the right. Turn right at signs for the Chassahowitzka River Campground and follow to headwaters.  From the boat ramp, go downriver about two miles, passing the three tree-covered islands and the remains of an old railroad trestle that once crossed the river.  The creek is over 300 feet wide at this point, and estuary-like.  After the trestle, move to the right (north) side of the river and go perhaps another 800-1,000 feet to mouth of Potter Creek.  Paddle (or pole/plow in low tide) up the creek about ¾ mile to the spring at the creek'™s headwaters at Potter Spring.  The water gets somewhat deeper in the run.  The bottom becomes shallow and rocky near Potter Spring.

Look for the mouth of the Ruth Spring run at the back, right (NE) end of the Potter Spring basin.  Paddle in as far as possible and then walk in the run or overland to the spring, an estimated 400 feet.

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 set in dense subtropical canopied floodplain forest. The narrow (8-12 feet) and winding run is clear and sandy near Potter Spring but soon becomes muddy. The depth of the run is generally about one foot, but has numerous deep spots that can be either muddy or with sharp rocks on the bottom. On date of visit, the authors portaged several times before having to get out and walk at a spot a few hundred feet in the run where a fallen palm, other obstructions, and hairpin turns rendered the further upstream passage extremely difficult.

At this point the authors (and JF'™s 8-year-old daughter) almost turned back but resolved decided to continue around two more bends of the run. At the second of the bends is the first two of three spring vents. Two small holes lie on either side of a widening in the run, with a large tree in the middle.

The vent on the right is a clear crevice about 5 feet deep. The vent on the left is more subtle and not inviting. It appeared to be the main flow point and about 8 feet deep, a couple of feet across, and perhaps 8 beet long but was very difficult to see clearly.  The bottom is mucky and RB sank to his chest and was unable to go further. JF took a different route and was able to see and photograph the main pool which is few feet further and around the corner. The pool is about 40 feet long and 14 feet across and has a deep area from which the water emanates. The depth of the main pool could not be determined, and the only way to get into it was by swimming'”something neither author was willing to do.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
Those willing and able to undergo the difficulty of visiting Ruth Spring (or any of probably 10 other deep woods/swamp springs at the Chassahowitzka) will, if they make it, be rewarded by the feeling that they are one of very few people to have seen this place.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Withlacoochie State Forest
Fort Cooper State Park
Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
Crystal River State Archeological Site
Rainbow Springs State Park
Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge
 
 


Beteejay Spring
Hernando County

Summary of Features
Scale'”high 3rd magnitude
Scenery'”fine
How Pristine?'”land clearned near spring
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”none
Access'”boat only, time trip with tide, no landfall
Facilities'”none
Safety'”good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”$1.50 to park at boat ramp/campground 5 miles upriver

Directions
From intersection of U.S. 19 and U.S. 98, go west on Highway 480, a.k.a. Miss Maggie's Drive.  Follow 1.7 miles to the end, passing small homes and the Chassahowitzka River Lodge on the right. Turn right at signs for the Chassahowitzka River Campground and follow to headwaters.  From the boat ramp, go downriver 2.5-3 miles.  Go south up Crawford Creek, the second large tributary entering the river on the left after passing the large island.  Proceed another 2 miles to Beetejay Spring, staying to the left (in the main channel) where Crawford Creek forks about a mile in.  (The right fork terminats in Blue Run Spring.)

For maps, latitude/longitude data, 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 authors have not visited this spring, so rely on the description provided by Champion & Starks:

Beteejay Spring, located approsimately 2.5 miles west of U.S. 19 in northwest Hernando County, lies at the head of Crawford Creek, a small tributary of the Chassahowitzka River.  The spring pool is approsimately 100 feet in diameter.  The spring vent discharges from the southern edge of the pool in several feet of water.  The spring is tidally influenced and situated on private property (May 2001, p. 73).

Use/Access

Nearby Springs Other Nearby Natural Features
Withlacoochie State Forest
Fort Cooper State Park
Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
Crystal River State Archeological Site
Rainbow Springs State Park
Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge
 
 


Blue Run Spring
Hernando County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”excellent
How Pristine?'”completely pristine
Swimming'”not recommended
Protection'”very good
Crowds'”none
Access'”boat only, time trip with tide
Facilities'”none at spring, excellent at nearby campground
Safety'”good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”$1.50 to park at campground five miles upriver, extra to rent canoe

Directions
From intersection of U.S. 19 and U.S. 98, go west on Highway 480, a.k.a. Miss Maggie's Drive.  Follow 1.7 miles to the end, passing small homes and the Chassahowitzka River Lodge on the right. Turn right at signs for the Chassahowitzka River Campground and follow to headwaters.  From the boat ramp, go downriver 2.5-3 miles.  Go south up Crawford Creek, the second large tributary entering the river on the left after passing the large island.  Proceed another 2 miles to Beetejay Spring, going to the right (off the main channel) where Crawford Creek forks about a mile in.  (The left fork terminats in Beteejay 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 authors have not visited this spring, so rely on the description by Champion & Starks:

Blue Run is located on state property and may be accessed by boat from the Chassahowitzka River.  Blue Run is at the head of a small tributary flowing into Crawford Creek.  The vent is a fissure approximately 20 feet deep located in the upstream portion of the pool.  The spring is surrounded by undisturbed Florida swampland.  The spring is tidally influenced (May 2001, p. 74).

Use/Access

Nearby Springs Other Nearby Natural Features
Withlacoochie State Forest
Fort Cooper State Park
Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
Crystal River State Archeological Site
Rainbow Springs State Park
Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge
 
 
 
 

D.  Rainbow Springs Group

Rainbow Springs
Marion County

Summary of Features
Scale'”1st magnitude
Scenery'”outstanding
How Pristine?'”longstanding spring attraction, partly restored to natural state; walkways, platforms around spring, dock below spring pool, rising nitrate levels in water
Swimming'”fine, superb snorkeling
Protection'”excellent
Crowds'”heavy on warm weekends
Access'”excellent
Facilities'”excellent
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”$1 per person

Directions
From the intersection of U.S. 41 and Highways 40/484 in Dunnellon, drive north 3-4 miles to Rainbow Springs State Park entrance on the right (east) side. Follow park entrance road to parking area and walk to spring.

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

Spring Descriptions
The Rainbow Springs group, the 4th largest concentration of springs in Florida (based on average flow) consists of about 18 identified springs and numerous other small flow points in the run of Rainbow River.  Numerous springs form a large (250 in diameter) circular spring pool that is the headwaters of the Rainbow River. There are at least four major flowpoints in the basin of the pool, which is generally 8-15 feet deep.  Champion & Starks (May 2001) list these four flows as follows:

Rainbow Springs #1--a strong flow of water from a vent 30-50 feet in length at a depth approximately 10-15 and creating a faint boil on the surface (p. 43).  This spring is located just north of the roped swim area.
Rainbow Springs #2--limestone openingd in the northeast portion of the spring pool.  There several openings in this area, varying from a few inches to several feet in diameter, with weak to strong flows that "blow" pebbles and shells.  The depth is about 10 feet.
Rainbow Springs #3--limestone openingd in the northeast portion of the spring pool.  There several also openings in this area, varying from a few inches to 1-2 feet in diameter, with weak to strong flows that "blow" pebbles and shells.  The depth is about 10 feet.
Rainbow Springs #4--a large limestone opening--about six feet long--in the lower end of the pool in the center (outside the roped swim area).  The flow creates a strong surface boil and is about 10 feet deep (p. 44).

The bottom of the main spring basin created by these and adjoining springs is mostly sandy, with some vegetation, rocks and pebbles, and abundant fish populations.  JF last saw an alligator in the main spring basin in 1998--a 4-foot juvenile in what is now called Rainbow Seep #1 at the north end of the spring basin.

These springs and those described below form the Rainbow River, which flows about 6 miles into the Withlacoochie River in Dunnellon and thence to the Gulf of Mexico.  The river is initially as wide as the spring basin'”about 250 feet, then narrows at the park boundary line to about 100-150 feet across. The depth of the river varies from 4-40 feet.  Water in the river can be exceptionally clear; wind, rain, and human traffic on the water reduce visibility.  Wildlife are abundant under, on, and above the water and includes mullet, gar, crappie, bluegill, perch, turtles, chubsuckers, bass, sunfish, jacks, alligators, otters, osprey, hawks, water snakes, herons, coots, ducks, and vultures.  Land around the spring is thick forest that has been partially cleared for the privately owned tourist attractions that once occupied the site. Along the river, the west side is developed for housing, and the east side is mostly in a natural and undisturbed state/condition along the river, with farmland/pasture upland from the floodplain forest.

In addition to the springs that lie within the main pool, there are numerous sand boils in the pool and the run, other significant and small springs on the perimeter of the basin, and several large springs in the run (Rainbow River) itself. Most of the springs are in the first 1.5 miles of the river/run and together make up approximately 89% of the water in Rainbow River where it meets the Withlacoochie River (Champion & Starks, May 2001, p. 5).  Other springs include the following:

Also according to Rosenau et al., flow at Rainbow Spring comes from a watershed/catchment area of "about 645" square miles. Water flowing from the main spring pool is unusually free of minerals, or "soft," while water rising from downriver springs is considerably "harder" (1977, p. 268-269).

Use/Access

Local Springiana Personal Impressions
As noted and explained in the essay below, Rainbow in JF'™s overall favorite spring complex, and it is in RB'™s top three.  The profusion of springs, water clarity, relative lack of development, abundance of wildlife, accessibility, recreational opportunities, and relatively low amounts of exotics set this spot apart and above all the rest in the authors'™ subjective opinions.  JF and his wife had their honeymoon at a house along the river, which adds a sentimental attachment as well.  It was 1983, and the spring area was not being used, but a glass-bottom boat was still in the basin (and open), the trails were available, and the main waterfall was flowing.  They had the site entirely to themselves and four days of connubial and spring-washed bliss.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Withlacoochie State Forest
Fort Cooper State Park
Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
Crystal River State Archeological Site
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge

Contact information
Rainbow Springs State Park
19158 SW 81st Place
Dunnellon, FL 34432
352-489-8503

Rainbow Springs Campground
18185 SW 94th Street
Dunnellon, FL 34432
352-489-8503

An Essay on Rainbow Springs
Having been to a lot of Florida springs, I am sometimes asked whih is the best. It is an impossible question, for there are dozens that I love and choosing one is like having to pick a favorite child. But there is something about Rainbow Springs in Dunnellon that lingers with you, and if there were only one spot I could visit for the rest of my life, it might be this one.

Located near Ocala, Rainbow Springs is formed by rain that percolates through a catchment area of several hundred square miles. Precipitation seeps into the aquifer, filtered along the way by limestone and earth. The weight of more rain soaking down actually forces the aquifer water up at Rainbow in unmatched purity and nearly unmatched magnitude. Rainbow is one of Florida'™s largest spring groups. Half a billion gallons a day of perfectly clean, clear, 75-degree water flow from at least 20 springs at or near the headwaters. The springs create an instant river that flows several miles before running into the Withlacoochie.

At the headwaters is a several-acre pool in a basin surrounded by hills on three sides. The upwelling water shimmers and modulates in a smooth, unruffled dance of translucent turquoise. Other springs sit on the edges like blue sapphires on a necklace. Rainbow has been a tourist attraction for generations, and only recently become a state park. Like Silver Springs, Rainbow once had glass-bottom boats, sky ride, animal shows, gardens'”even a rodeo. All the fluff is gone now, but the lovely gardens, paths, and a 40-foot (artificial) waterfall remain.

Water is the main attraction here, and Rainbow offers many ways to enjoy it. You can swim and snorkel in the headwaters, which encompass several springs. Paths lead you to more springs. To explore the river, you need to exit the State Park. Motors may not be used within the state park boundary, but may be run at slow speed on the rest of the river. There is a little dock in the park just below the spring pool, but boats may only be tied up there'”there is no put-in within the park.

There are a couple of boat ramps about 1.5 miles downriver of the state park. One is the Rainbow Springs State Campground. Once privately owned, the state campground has lots of sites (if not lots of privacy), electric hook-ups, and a pool. Most of all, it has tubes for rent and is the put-in point for the best tube run this side of the Ichetucknee.

Tubing takes four hours, and there is virtually no development on the southeast side of the river. There are trees for climbing and jumping, and unlike the Itch you can bring food and non-alcoholic drinks in plastic containers. Sit back and relax, or bring a mask and observe the underwater life. The river is clear its entire run, and routinely has depths of 40 feet or more. In these deep spots sparkle still more springs, or dart large gar, turtles, and schooling mullet and jacks.

If you have more energy than sense, you can canoe a secret run just upriver from the campground. Completely canopied, this run leads after many turns to a hidden spring. You'™ll have to port the canoe several times, and watch for snakes. But if you make it, you'™ll find the spring soundlessly flowing in its infinite business deep in the floodplain forest. There is another spring further back, but I gave up when the water got too shallow.

Rainbow is very popular on summer weekends, so go any other time and avoid the crowds. You'™ll see instead hordes of heron, kingfisher, vulture, hawk, deer, owl, otter, and other critters. Obey rules and signs; some of the spring runs in the State Park are closed to protect fragile ecosystems and endangered species. One of them had a spectacular boil from its vent that shot up over two feet, but vandals destroyed it. Leave no sign of your visit; instead let the spring and river leave their mark on you.
 
 

Rainbow Swamp (or Indian) Springs
Marion County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”excellent
How Pristine?'”completely pristine
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”none
Access'”moderately arduous, water only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”fair-good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”free

Directions
From the intersection of U.S. 41 and Highway 484 in Dunnellon, go east on 484 for 2-3 miles. Turn north (left) onto SW 180th Avenue and drive about 3 miles (passing two schools) to entrance of Rainbow Springs State Campground on the left (west). Put in canoe or kayak at boat launch in campground into Rainbow River.  Paddle upriver just above campground and campground dock to river widening.  Look for mouth of spring run (Indian Creek) on the right.  Proceed up run perhaps 1/3 mile to spring #1.

Springs Description
The authors have seen one of the springs in this group and partially explored the run leading to three other small springs; they have not located the other three springs.

Rainbow Swamp Spring #3-- is the first spring encountered when paddling up the run from Rainbow River.  It forms a circular pool about 30 feet in diameter.  On date of visit in late 1990s, a large tree had toppled directly into the pool, obscuring many features.  Water in the spring was milky blue and visibility was about 10 feet.  The bottom could not be determined, but there was clear flow among the tree branches. The spring provided the vast majority of water that made up the spring run.

Rainbow Swamp Springs #1-3--are further back from Spring #1.  According to Champion and Starks (May 2001, p. 47), #4 is only 50 feet SW of of #3.  These other springs are not described in any publication the authors can find.  The combined flow from the four springs is about 5,000,000 gallons per day into the Rainbow River.

The combined run of the springs is 6" to 3 feet deep, 6-10 feet wide, canopied, and flows through a lush floodplain forest.  The bottom is sandy.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions
The spring JF saw was wild and beautiful.  It is hard work to reach, so very few people make it all the way to the site.  He and RB are determined to return to the site and find the other three springs.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Rainbow Springs State Campground
Withlacoochie State Forest
Fort Cooper State Park
Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
Crystal River State Archeological Site
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge

Contact information
Rainbow Springs Campground
18185 SW 94th Street
Dunnellon, FL 34432
352-489-8503
 
 

Rock Spring
Marion County

Summary of Features
Scale'”Unknown
Scenery'”very good
How Pristine?'”surrounded by farmland, old rail line nearby
Swimming'”unknown
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”none
Access'”on private land
Facilities'”none
Safety'”unknown
Scuba'”unknown

Directions
The spring is on private land about 2 miles east of the intersection of U.S. 41 and Highway 40 north of Dunnellon, or three miles ENE of Rainbow Springs at approximate coordinates 29.1186 Latitude and 82.3828 Longitude.

Springs Description
The authors have not visited this site, which is identified as Rock Spring in the Florida Atlas and Gazeteer.  An examination of satellite photography of the site show an area of trees surrounded by cleared farmland, and alow area with water in it.  No flow is evident from the site, so the "spring" may in fact be a karst window or sinkhole.  A dirt road swings by the water and trees, and the old ACL rail line passes very close to the site.

Use/Access

Nearby Springs Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Rainbow Springs State Campground
Withlacoochie State Forest
Fort Cooper State Park
Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
Crystal River State Archeological Site
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge
 
 
 
 
 

E. Other Central Gulf Coast Springs

Big King Spring
Levy County

Summary of Features
Scale'”unknown, not large
Scenery'”fine
How Pristine?'”appears very pristine from photo
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Access'”on private property

Directions
On private property adjacent to the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches Caruth Camp.  The camp is seven miles north of Inglis in Levy County on U.S. 19 on the west side of the highway.

Spring Description
The authors have not been to this spring, and so quote from Champion & Starks:

Big King Spring . . . emanates from an enlarged fracture in limestone in the center of a small oval pool.  The spring pool is roughly 20 feet across by 30 feet long, and discharges northward into a narrow, shallow stream that flows westward through the surrounding swamp" (May 2001, p. 36).

They also note that the spring has a high netrate level--about 1.4mg/l, and their photo shows a shallow pool with an algae or mud-covered bottom.  The water appears clear and is slightly greenish.

Use/Access

Nearby Springs Other Nearby Natural Features
Rainbow Springs State Park
Manatee Springs State Park
Goethe State Forest
Waccasassa Bay State Preserve
 
 

Harvey Spring
Pasco County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd magnitude (estimated)
Scenery'”fair
How Pristine?'”dike and berm around spring and run, garbage and debris on site
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”small-none
Access'”fair

Directions
At intersection of U.S. 19 and State Road 54, go east on SR 54 approximately 2 miles to Crestwood Place (0.25 miles past Thys Road).  Park in lot on NE corner.  Cross SR 54 west of retention pond on south side of riad.  Proceed south along dirt/ dirtbike trail along north bank of the Anclote River.  turn right (west) and proceed approximately 1/8 miles to spring on left side of trail at point of a large bend in the river.  Follow short path down to the spring run and the springhead.

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

Spring Description
The authors have not visited this spring, and rely on the directions and description provided by Greg Johnson (e-mail communication, May 27, 2003):

There are several sand boils in a short ravine set in a sand bank about 15 feet high.  The spring seems to be about a 3rd mag or less but a substantial flow is evident.  There are at least 2 sand-covered boils approx. 2-3 feet in diameter with several smaller boils in a short streambed.  Just to the east there is an earthen dike (with a berm designed to divert runoff) directing the run to a pool about 50x150 in area.  Outflow is through a small ditch near the southeastern corner of the pool.  Beyond the dike the run enters a swampy area and merges with the anclote a short distance away. . . . There are several truckloads of debris scattered around the area along with enough tires to roll a big rig.
Use/Access Personal Impressions
With some clearing and care, the site could be very attractive.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Anclote Key State Preserve
Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
Withlacoochie State Forest
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
 
 


Jenkins Spring
Hernando County

Summary of Features
Scale'”unknown
Scenery'”fine
How Pristine?'”in county park
Swimming'”very good in park
Protection'”fine
Crowds'”can be heavy on weekends
Access'”excellent
Facilities'”excellent
Safety'”fine
Scuba'”no
Cost'”free

Directions
In Hernando Beach Park, 3699 E. Orange Drive, Hernando.  From U.S. 41 (.2 miles north of C.R. 486) in Hernando, turn east onto Orange Drive. Travel 0.1 mile and Hernando Beach is 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 authors have not visited this spring, so rely on the description provided by Champion & Starks:

The spring pool is elliptical in shape; approximately 200 feet in length and 60 feet wide.  There are two spring runs - one run flows to the south and the other flows to the northwest.  The spring is tidally influenced which can affect the appearance of boils in the spring pool (May 2001, p. 98).

In November 2002, JF visited the county park, but was (to his frustration) unable to locate the springs.

Use/Access

Nearby Springs Other Nearby Natural Features
Anclote Key State Preserve
Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
Withlacoochie State Forest
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
 
 


Levy Blue Springs
Levy County

Summary of Features
Scale--2nd magnitude
Scenery--good-very good
How Pristine?--retaining wall around spring, land cleared on two sides, dive platform and beach, small building and parking area nearby
Swimming--excellent, outstanding snorkeling
Protection--very good
Crowds--heavy on warm weekends
Access--excellent
Facilities-good
Safety--good-very good
Scuba--yes
Cost--$0.50 per person

Directions
From Chiefland, take Alternate U.S. 27 east. Cross the Waccasassa River after 9.4 miles and the Little Waccasassa River after about 11 miles. Continue around a bend and U.S. 27 merges with Highway 339. After about 1 more mile, turn right onto Levy County Road 339A at sign for Blue Springs and proceed 2.2 miles to the spring. From Bronson, 339A is 2.4 miles west on Alt. U.S. 27 after the last traffic light in town (Thrasher Street).

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 a large circular pool about 150 feet across. There is a retaining wall/sidewalk around the eastern 2/3 of the pool, an artificial beach on the north side, woods on the south side, and the spring run to the west. A diving/jumping platform extends over the deepest part of the basin from the NNE. The bottom below the platform and extending into the middle of the spring slopes down to a depth of about 18 feet. Water is very clear and an intense blue.

Much of the bottom is sandy, and the are numerous small and large sand boils. Some flow points "blow" small particles of wood and shells. A section of the bottom is covered with a layer of mostly liquefied black detritus about a foot thick. Water flowing from beneath this layer makes the black material churn and boil on the bottom. A few bream swim here and there over the boils. More sand boils are in the lower part of the pool nearer the run and the wading beach. Bream and bass were more plentiful in this area. The spring run is thick with hyacinth and shaded with a canopy of trees. The run feeds the Waccasassa River, which flows through the Waccasassa Bay State Preserve to the Gulf of Mexico. Land to the west and south of the spring is thick hardwood and floodplain forest.

Use/Access

  • The spring is the site of a county park that is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The park offers swimming, picnicking, restrooms, concessions, playground equipment, and grills. There is a shallow area at the beach for young children.
  • Note the signs and restrictions at the park. One sign says, "No Alcohol '“ Coolers will be checked."  Another forbids drugs and also pets; teenagers are warned not to use the covered picnic tables. They ignored the warning when RB was there.
  • Intrigued by the black liquid layer on the bottom the pool, JF thrust his hand into it to pull up shells, rocks, soaked wood, and a large alligator tooth. A State of Florida scientist said it was from a gator about 10 feet  long and could have been preserved in the spring for thousands of years.
  • Personal Impressions
    The spring seems incongruous placed in this rural spot, as if it were dropped from the sky. The roiling black bottom is a must-see for snorkelers'”there are as many boils in this spring as in any spring the authors have seen, and they have not observed the black layer in any other spring.

    Nearby Springs

    Other Nearby Natural Features
    Manatee Springs State Park
    Waccasassa Bay State Preserve
    Goethe State Forest
    Rainbow Springs State Park
    Fanning Springs State Recreation Area
    Paynes Prairie State Preserve
     
     


    Little King (or Caruth) Spring
    Levy County

    Summary of Features
    Scale'”3rd magnitude (estimated)
    Scenery'”fine
    How Pristine?'”boardwalk around spring, some clearing near spring
    Swimming'”unknown
    Protection'”fine
    Crowds'”used by Youth Ranch participants
    Access'”restricted
    Facilities'”fine nearby
    Safety'”very good
    Scuba'”no

    Directions
    From Inglis in Levy County, drive seven miles north on U.S. 19 and turn left/west at entrance to the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches Caruth Camp.  Drive to end of main road (goes from paved to dirt) to spring on the right, about 0.6 miles.

    Spring Description
    The spring forms a circular pool about 35 feet in diameter in an area that is a border between dense subtropical forest and a developed area with buildings.  Water in the pool is fairly clear, but the canopy over the pool made it impossible to visually determine the depth and all possible flow points.  Some water flowed from a limestone opening in the SE end of the pool at a depth of about 4 feet.  This opening was about a foot in length.  The northern and eastern ends of the pool are shallow.  The bottom appears to drop away to an indeterminate depth in the western end of the pool, which is likely another flow point and the primary flow point for the spring.  Water exits the pool at the NW end and flows NW toward the Gulf of Mexico about 8 miles away.  (The run may empty into a nearby lake to the SW.  A boardwalk has been constructed around the pool.

    Use/Access

    Local Springiana Personal Impressions
    The spring is small, attractive, and in a mostly natural condition.  The boardwalk serves to protect the spring's banks from erosion.

    Nearby Springs

    Other Nearby Natural Features
    Rainbow Springs State Park
    Manatee Springs State Park
    Goethe State Forest
    Waccasassa Bay State Preserve
     
     


    Mud River (or Mud or Sulfur) Spring
    Hernando County

    Summary of Features
    Scale'”2nd magnitude
    Scenery'”unknown
    How Pristine?'”unknown
    Swimming'”unknown
    Protection'”unknown
    Crowds'”unknown
    Access'”unknown
    Facilities'”unknown
    Safety'”unknown
    Scuba'”unknown
    Cost'”free

    Directions
    From the intersection of U.S. 19 and U.S. 50 at Weeki Wachee, go 3.6 miles west on U.S. 50.  The spring is 100 feet south of U.S. 50 on private propery.  Alternatively, the spring may be reached by boat.  From the intersection of U.S. 19 and U.S. 50 at Weeki Wachee, go 3 miles west on U.S. 50.  Proceed south on C.R. 595 to boat launch where the highway crosses the Weeki Wachee River.  Put in boat and go downstream (west) about 3/4 mile to where Mud River Run enters the river.  Paddle up Mud River Run about 2.5 miles to the head spring.

    From the land the spring is about 400 ft S. of U.S. 50, 1.3 mi E. of Bayport, and 3,000 west of the intersection of U.S. 50 and C.R. 595 (lat. 28°32' N., long. 82°37' W.).

    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 fullest current description of this spring is provided by Rosenau et al. (1977):

    The spring is at the head of Mud River . . . The head pool of Mud River is about 400 ft in diameter with a 200-ft wide run flowing from the east side.  The spring is near the southwest side of the pool about 15 ft E. of a dock.  The spring basin is elongate in a north-south direction and slopes irregularly down on the north, east, and south sides.  The west side is essentially vertical to a depth of 185 ft (Sinclair, 1977, Table 2).  Divers report a horizontal westward 3 mi per hour current at a depth of 50 ft.  The bottom is obscured by a brown flaky material, probably algal, that gives the river and spring the name "Mud."  Tidally affected, Mud Spring discharge has been measured at 128 ft3/s on January 18, 1961; and at 101 ft3/s and 83.1 ft3/s on a changing tide on December ll, 1975. The chloride content, based on a specific conductance of 23,000 mhos/cm, was 8,000 mg/L at a depth of 58 ft, and the temperature was 20.5°C. (69°F.) on December 16, 1960.  Mud Spring is a fishing and boat launching site.

    Champion & Starks report an average flow rate of 45 cfs from measurements taken in 1998 and 1999 (May 2001, p. 91).  When JF visited the spring in November 2002, he was only able to get within about 250 feet of it so could not make out many details.

    Nearby Springs

    Other Nearby Natural Features
    Anclote Key State Preserve
    Withlacoochie State Forest
    Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
    Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
     
     


    Salt Spring
    Hernando County

    Summary of Features
    Scale'”2nd magnitude
    Scenery'”excellent
    How Pristine?'”near highway, otherwise very natural
    Swimming'”unknown
    Protection'”unknown
    Crowds'”unknown
    Access'”water only, along private property
    Facilities'”none
    Safety'”unknown
    Scuba'”unknown
    Cost'”free

    Directions
    From the intersection of U.S. 19 and U.S. 50 at Weeki Wachee, go 3.6 miles west on U.S. 50.  The spring is 100 feet south of U.S. 50 on private propery.  Alternatively, the spring may be reached by boat.  From the intersection of U.S. 19 and U.S. 50 at Weeki Wachee, go 3 miles west on U.S. 50.  Proceed south on C.R. 595 to boat launch where the highway crosses the Weeki Wachee River.  Put in boat and go downstream (west) about 3/4 mile to where Mud River Run enters the river.  Paddle up Mud River Run about 2 miles , then go to right (east) off the main channel 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 a very attractive oval pool in dense floodplain and sub-tropical forest.  Water boils up strong from beneath a large limestone ledge on the east side of the pool, and a second vent is visible on the south side of the pool that forms a smaller boil.  Water in the pool is clear and bluish, and pool is approximately 75 by 50 feet wide.  Hardwoods and other vegetation canopy much of the pool, and there appears to be a small run-off feeder into the pool on the north side.  According to Champion & Starks, "The spring pool drains through a spring run that flows to the southeast, then southwest, eventually reaching Mud River.  The spring is tidally influenced" (May 2001, p. 97).

    For an aeral view of this spring and others in this region, see the following web site which focuses on finding lost money and other valuables in spring and other dive sites:   http://www.treasuresites.com/members/wcf.htm

    Use/Access

    Personal Impressions
    Salt Spring is a very lovely and pristine spring and well worth a look.

    Nearby Springs

    Other Nearby Natural Features
    Anclote Key State Preserve
    Withlacoochie State Forest
    Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
    Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
     
     


    Twin Dees (or Little) Spring
    Hernando County

    Summary of Features
    Scale'”2nd magnitude
    Scenery'”fine
    How Pristine?'”very natural
    Swimming'”fair, good snorkeling
    Protection'”unknown
    Crowds'”small
    Access'”very good, boat only
    Facilities'”none at spring, excellent nearby
    Safety'”very good
    Scuba'”yes
    Cost'”free

    Directions
    From boat launch just below Weeki Wachee Springs, go downstream (west) about 0.4 mile.  Run from Twin Dees Spring enters from the left (south).  Proceed up the spring run about 1/4 mile to spring at head.

    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 authors have not visited this spring, so rely on the description by Champion & Starks:

    Twin Dees, also knows as Little Spring, is located approximately 3,000 southwest of the main spring.  The spring pool is 25 feet in diameter and water enters the pool through a vertical shaft that is just wide enough for a diver to enter the cave system 50 feet below.  Another shaft is present in the pool, but is apparently plugged.  Water discharging from the spring flows through a marsh for approximately 0.2 miles to the Weeki Wachee River (May 2001, p. 93).

    Divers have surveyed and mapped 2,500 of underwater passages at Twin Dees, going as deep as 300 feet (Champion & Starks, May 2001, p. 94).

    Use/Access

    Nearby Springs Other Nearby Natural Features
    Anclote Key State Preserve
    Withlacoochie State Forest
    Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
    Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
     
     


    Vogt Spring
    Marion County

    Summary of Features
    Scale'”3rd magnitude (estimated)
    Scenery'”good
    How Pristine?'”in cleared area near houses in neighborhood, used as backyard pond, dock and bridge near mouth of run
    Swimming'”not recommended
    Protection'”unknown
    Crowds'”small-none
    Access'”on private land, blocked from river by footbridge

    Directions
    From intersection of U.S. 41 and Highway 40/336 in Dunnellon, go west on Highway 40/336 for 1.1 miles and turn left (south) onto Vogt Springs Road.  Go about 0.1 miles to spring at t-junction.

    Spring Description
    The spring forms on oval-shaped pool with dimensions of about 60 by 150 feet.  The depth appears to be 3-4 feet, and the water is only fairly clear.  The back end of the pool is thick with exotic vegetation, including water lettuce, and no vent is visible.  The depth is likely deeper at the flow point.  The pool forms a run that is about 10 feet wide and appears to flow about 200 feet before emptying into the Withlacoochie River.

    Use/Access
    Although there is not a sign at the spring, it appears to be on private property.  Access from the nearby Withlacoochie River is effectively blocked by the arching footbridge at the head of the spring run.  The spring appears to be used as a backyard pond/reacreation site by the adjacent property owners, but there is little evidence of any recent utilization of the spring or its pool.

    Local Springiana
    An historic marker near the spring along Highway 40 notes that phosphate was discovered in Florida a short distance from the spring.  The discoverer was Albertus Vogt, for whom the spring is now named (Jenkins, 1969).

    Personal Impressions
    Perhaps if the pool were cleared of the exotic vegetation--which could probably be done by hand and not require the use of herbicide--it would look more appealing and inviting.

    Nearby Springs

    Other Nearby Natural Features
    Rainbow Springs State Park
    Manatee Springs State Park
    Goethe State Forest
    Waccasassa Bay State Preserve
     
     


    Weeki Wachee Springs
    Hernando County

    Summary of Features
    Scale'”1st magnitude
    Scenery'”poor
    How Pristine?'”developed attraction area adjacent to major highway, elevated levels of nitrate and other pollutants in water
    Swimming'”not at spring, very good at adjacent waterslide attraction area.  Snorkeling downstream in run.
    Protection'”unknown
    Crowds'”heavy on warm days
    Access'”excellent
    Facilities'”excellent
    Safety'”excellent
    Scuba'”no
    Cost'”fee to enter attractions

    Directions
    At intersection of U.S. 19 and State Road 50 in Hernando County.

    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 spring at Weeki Wachee forms a large oval with dimensions of approximately 150 feet by 250 feet.  Water flows from a large limestone opening that had been explored by divers to a depth of 200 feet.  According to Sinclair (1977), there is a cavern system associated with the spring.  Overall, the spring pool is funnel-shaped, with areas of exposed limestone, very clear blue water, and algae on the rocks and the sandy bottom areas.  A retaining wall surrounds nearly all of the spring pool, and there is an underwater theatre/observatory on the south side of the pool.  Rosenau et al. (1977) identify other springs near the main spring, including Little Springs, Unknown Spring No. 3, and flows from the bed of the spring run/river.  The average daily discharge over the period of 1917 to 1974 was 176 cubic feet per second, or about 114 million gallons per day.

    Water from the spring forms a river that flows several miles west to the Gulf of Mexico.  The river varies in width and depth and passes through areas of forest, some development, 2-3 parks, and becomes estuary-like at is approaches the Gulf.

    Use/Access

    Local Springiana Personal Impressions
    Weeki Wachee is a renowned slice of Florida history and kitsch.  Although it is apparently losing money and the mermaid shows and waterslides are most unnatural uses of the spring, the site nonetheless has a unique and appealing character.

    Nearby Springs

    Other Nearby Natural Features
    Honeymoon Island State Recreation Area
    Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
    Withlacoochie State Forest
    Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
    Crystal River State Archeological Site
     

    February 26, 2004 story about Weeki Wachee Springs in the St. Petersburg Times:

    River work is done annually, park says
    Weeki Wachee officials say the equipment seen last weekend is part of the annual preparation for the Buccaneer Bay water park.
    By ROBERT KING, Times Staff Writer
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    WEEKI WACHEE - Weeki Wachee Springs officials said Wednesday they didn't know the park needed environmental permits or its landlord's approval to run heavy equipment in the Weeki Wachee River.

    General manager Robyn Anderson and marketing director John Athanason said the backhoe seen in the river over the weekend was removing sand that had washed into the river from the beach at the Buccaneer Bay water park.

    They say such beach recovery work has been part of annual preparations for the opening of Buccaneer Bay for years. So long, in fact, Athanason said it was assumed no permits were needed. "We didn't know any better basically," he said.

    The state Department of Environmental Protection Wednesday opened an investigation that will examine the permitting issue.

    Meanwhile, the Southwest Florida Water Management District - which owns the land around the spring and leases it to Weeki Wachee Springs - says the work violated the terms of Weeki Wachee's lease. Now Swiftmud, as the agency is known, is deciding what to do about it. Among the options Swiftmud is considering is the termination of the lease, which would force Weeki Wachee Springs to close.

    Both Swiftmud and the DEP plan to discuss the matter next week with Weeki Wachee officials.

    The work, which Swiftmud has described as a "dredge and fill operation," occurred less than 50 yards from the headspring that is one of the 65 largest natural springs in America. The river itself was recently designated a Florida Outstanding Water.

    Some of the work was conducted in daylight, as evidenced by an amateur video that was presented to the Times and delivered anonymously to Swiftmud. But a Times reporter, acting on a tip, also saw work being done after dark on Saturday night.

    Anderson said nothing sneaky was going on and burning the midnight oil is routine in the weeks leading up to the opening of Buccaneer Bay.

    "I have guys working until one or two in the morning," she said. "We have people working around the clock."

    Anderson and Athanason say removing the sand was done to protect the river - since sedimentation downstream and in the spring itself is already a problem. They said the state stopped allowing the park to bring in new sand for the beach several years ago because of sedimentation.

    Both say the erosion is a result of water runoff from U.S. 19 and is beyond the park's control. Indeed, a trail carved by moving water sloped downhill Wednesday from the park's boundary along the highway to 2-feet deep ruts near the Buccaneer Bay beach.

    Regardless of the cause, Weeki Wachee's lease says it must seek Swiftmud's written approval and proper permits for any activities that impact the river. That includes "dredging and filling; beach renourishment, or construction," according to the lease.

    Swiftmud spokesman Michael Molligan said Wednesday those steps were not taken and Swiftmud staffers are discussing what to do about it. A day earlier, angry Swiftmud governing board members called for Weeki Wachee's head.

    Anderson and Athanason said they realize Swiftmud board members are angry. But they say Swiftmud's board is always angry with Weeki Wachee. They say it stems from the failure by the attraction's prior ownership group to remedy problems at the park.

    "I would hope they wouldn't terminate the lease," Anderson said.

    Attorney Joe Mason, who represents the tourist attraction and the city of Weeki Wachee, said the uproar about the weekend construction was largely "a paperwork issue."

    "It is not a serious issue in terms of substance, but it is a violation," he said.

    Mason said it is understandable that Swiftmud's board is upset. And he admitted that Weeki Wachee failed by not seeking the proper permits and authorization. But he said Weeki Wachee's staff at the park have learned from a mistake he deemed "rather innocent."

    "It's an unfortunate issue from a PR standpoint. And the paperwork wasn't done. But it's not anything of any great significance," Mason said.

    - Robert King covers Spring Hill and can be reached at 848-1432. Send e-mail to rking@sptimes.com
     
     

    Wekiva Springs
    Levy County

    Summary of Features
    Scale'”2nd magnitude
    Scenery'”good
    How Pristine?'”land partly cleared around spring, building nearby, water extraction equipment at spring.
    Swimming'”no
    Protection'”unknown
    Crowds'”none
    Access'”none, private

    Directions
    From intersection of U.S. 19/98 and State Road 326 at Gulf Hammock in Levy County, drive 5 miles east on SR326 to entrance to spring 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
    Wekiva Springs'”not to be confused with Wekiwa Springs and its State Park in Apopka'”is a set of three connected springs that together form the headwaters of the Wekiva River. JF was only able to get to within about 150 feet of the springs, so must rely on the descriptions provided by Rosenau et al. (1977):

    The smallest of the three pools is about 40 ft long, north-south, and 20 ft wide. Flow is from a hole about 8 ft deep in the central part of the pool. This pool discharges southward down a narrow channel 185 feet long to the north end of the largest of the three pools.

    The largest pool is about 125 ft long, north-south, by about 60 ft wide. It is deepest, about 30 ft near its northeast corner and there is a strong boil on the surface. The combined flow from the two pools discharges west to the third and intermediate size pool through a narrow channel 60 ft long. A narrow, natural rock bridge traverses this connecting channel near its upstream end. Two holes in the channel, each at least 30 feet deep, are near the bridge, one upstream and the other downstream. There was a strong boil over the downstream hole.

    The third pool is nearly square, measuring 50 or 60 ft on a side, and has a small rock island in the middle. The island is connected to the east edge of the pool by a narrow natural rock bridge . . . A 15 ft-deep vent and boil are near the northeast corner of the pool. The combined flow from all three pools discharges from the southwest corner through a run which is the beginning of the Wekiva River (pp. 251-252).

    Use/Access
    The springs are owned by the Crystal Water Bottling Company and are closed to public access. A large gate prevents access. JF happened to visit on a day when the gate was open. He was allowed to take one quick photograph of the spring from the pump building before being evicted by a truck driver from the bottling company who was filling his tanker with water from the spring.

    Local Springiana
    In 1997, JF asked the employee at nearby Blue Spring about Wekiva. The man told JF that the landowner at Wekiva had allowed people to use Wekiva Spring for many years. Then, he was assaulted by some young men on the site, decided he did not need the aggravation or danger, and sold the spring to a water bottling company.

    Personal Impressions
    It is a great pity that this spring is cut off from public access and enjoyment. Had it not been sold to the bottling company, it would likely have ranked high on the state'™s list of sites worthy of acquisition. Even from a distance, it is beautiful.

    Nearby Springs

    Other Nearby Natural Features
    Rainbow Springs State Park
    Manatee Springs State Park
    Goethe State Forest
    Waccasassa Bay State Preserve