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

Part IV.  Withlacoochie River Springs

Along the banks of the last 13 miles of the Withlacoochie River'™s run in north Florida, before it merges into the Suwannee River in Suwannee River State Park, lie several springs and a group of seeps and tiny cascades.  The flows range in size from trickles to the first-magnitude Madison Blue.  Another spring is 15 miles upriver of this section near the Georgia border, and another'”an apparent spring/sink combination'”is inland west of the river.  The springs in this section are listed in the order they are located along the river from north to south, with the inland spring'”Adams'”described last.
 


Part IV Contents

               Rosseter Spring
               Madison Blue Spring
               Unnamed spring #1
               Unnamed seeps, spring, and cascades
               Pot Spring
               Tanner Spring
               MAD612981
               HAM610984
               Morgan and Nearby Springs
               Suwannacoochie Spring
               Adams Spring
 

An Essay on the Withlacoochie River
Despite living over 25 years in Florida, I had never paddled the Withlacoochie River.  Then, I did it twice in 10 days. Now, there are two Withlacoochies in Florida, and they'™re often confused.  The northern Withlacoochie begins in Georgia above Valdosta and flows into the Suwannee at Suwannee River State Park.  The other one is in central Florida and flows NW to the Gulf near Yankeetown. The two rivers never get within 100 miles of each other.

The northern Withlacoochie flows 35 miles in Florida, and the final 12-15 are the most attractive.  Most folks put in at Blue Springs, which is halfway between Madison and Live Oak.  From I-10, get off at exit 38 and go north on CR 255. Turn right on SR 6 and it is about three miles to the spring.  Blue is an old-time swimming hole.  It was also for many years a major party hangout, and the result was severe erosion and literally tons of garbage being strewn in and around one of the prettiest springs in Florida.

A few years ago, new owners removed truckloads of trash, landscaped to prevent erosion, and added bathrooms and campsites. In addition to swimming, one could put in a canoe and also rent one.  In fall 2000, Blue was acquired by the State of Florida, ensuring it will be protected for the future.  It is now re-opened as a county park.  Before heading downriver, be sure to jump in the spring, check out its large cave, and let its powerful flow loop you into the Withlacoochie.  There are many springs named "Blue" in Florida, but on a sunny day this one is perhaps the truest blue of all.

It is best to canoe when the water is down, for although the current is slower, low flow makes the limestone banks rise more dramatically, improves visibility, exposes caves and grottoes, creates shoals to navigate, reveals sandbars picnic spots, and uncovers several springs and seeps that would otherwise be submerged.

Your first stop shall be a rope swing just around the first bend or two. Tied on a knotty tree, the knotty rope sends you far out into the cool water. Or you can climb up to 30 feet in the tree, as I did, and jump, bruising your rear end, as I also did.

Small springs and seeps pop up in the first half-mile. After poking into a pretty spring in a glen on the left, look for cascading springs and seeps on your right as you round a sweeping left turn. Reminiscent of sparkling dew droplets on a strand of a spider'™s web, these little flows cool and lighten the river and your spirits.

Scan the clear river for mullet, gar, turtles, catfish, trout, bream, and bass. You will also see the many rocks that keep large boats off this section, making it perfect for canoeing or fishing. High banks provide shade except for in the middle of the day, and above the swiss-cheese limestone are overhanging cypress, bay, tupelo, oak, and maple trees.

The next attraction is a lovely, large spring called Pot. Nestled on the riverbank, Pot Spring has a boardwalk leading to it and may be reached by car from Twin Rivers State Forest. It issues from a cave about 12 feet down in clear cool water.

For two more hours, the river lollygags its way south, with occasional small shoals, sandbars, and several other springs to keep children interested. Then the shoals get more pronounced and fun, culminating--again when the river is down--in some actual rapids and a double waterfall. You hear the big shoals long before seeing them, and you should pull over and scout how to get through. The best route is right up the middle, first down a three-foot drop and then a five-footer in a snaking s-maneuver.

After another shoal or two, it is 45 minutes to the takeout at the State Park. In the last 100 yards of the Withlacoochie, the aptly named Suwannacoochie Spring gushes from the remnants of an old concrete enclosure. On the Suwannee by the railroad trestle is another spring set dramatically among giant boulders. Ellaville Spring is worth a look if you have energy and time to get out of the State Park before it closes at sunset.

Give yourself 5-6 hours, depending on how often you choose to stop to climb, swim, eat, sleep, and otherwise recreate. Car logistics at two locations will add another hour. We had no problem with bugs, but bring plenty of food, water, and sunscreen. I won'™t wait another quarter century before canoeing the Withlacoochie'”don'™t you either.
 
 

Rosseter Spring

The authors have not visited this 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

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
 
 

Madison Blue Spring
Madison County

Summary of Features
Scale'”1st magnitude
Scenery'”very good to fine
How Pristine?'”pool and run modified for recreation/swimming/restoration
Swimming'”very good to excellent
Protection'”excellent
Crowds'”crowded on warm weekends
Access'”excellent
Facilities'”fine
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”$3 per person to swim; more to scuba

Directions
From I-10, go north (left) on exit 38 (County Road 255). Cross U.S. 90 at Lee and continue to State Road 6 (about 4 miles). Turn right and proceed 3-4 miles to the spring on the right just before crossing the Withlacoochie River.

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

Spring Description
The spring forms a circular pool about 40 feet in diameter. Water flows from a large cavern entrance at the south end that lies at the bottom of a steep rocky bluff (about 20 feet high) and is about 25 feet deep. The sandy bottom slopes upward from the cavern entrance to the run on the northeast side of the spring. A constriction of the run from 25 feet to about 15 feet creates a strong flow, and this strength has been increased by the placement of large rocks across the narrowest part of the 100-foot run. The bottom of the run is rocky and sharp. The run flows into the Withlacoochie River in the opposite direction of the river, and the result is a large arc of clear water and swept river-bottom.

Water in the spring is clear and blue, and the temperature in the spring basin was 70 degrees on June 1, 1999. The spring water warms as it merges with the tea-colored waters of the Withlacoochee, which registered 76 degrees on the same date.

Use/Access

Local Springiana Personal Impressions
On a sunny day when the river is not high, Madison Blue is unrivaled in the intensity of its blue waters. The state purchase of the spring assures that this very beautiful site will be protected and remain open to the public. The purchase is a major conservation acquisition'”the 23rd first-magnitude spring (out of the current total of 33) to come into public hands.

Nearby Springs


 
 

HAM612982 Spring
Hamilton County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd magnitude
Scenery'”Fine
How Pristine?'”completely pristine
Swimming'”No
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”none
Access'”Good'”canoe only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”$3 per person to put in at nearby Madison Blue, free if put in further upriver

Directions
From I-10, go north (left) on exit 38 (County Road 255). Cross U.S. 90 at Lee and continue to State Road 6 (about 4 miles). Turn right and proceed about 4 miles to Madison Blue Spring on the right just before crossing the Withlacoochie River. Put in at Madison Blue and canoe 5-10 minutes downriver. Spring 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
This small spring is set in a grotto about 40 feet from the river. Water flows from a small cavity at the bottom of a narrow glen and is 2-3 feet deep at the vent. Banks rise up around the spring and run, which empties into the river. The creek is 3-6 feet wide. In times of high water, the spring would be inundated and probably not visible. Water in the spring was clear and was blue over the vent.

Use/Access

Nearby Springs
 

MAD612982'”Spring, Seeps, and Cascades
Madison County

Summary of Features
Scale'”3rd magnitude
Scenery'”excellent
How Pristine?'”completely pristine
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”some people on warm weekends
Access'”good, canoe only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”good
Scuba'”no
Cost'”$3 to put canoe in at Madison Blue; free if put in further upstream

Directions
From I-10, go north (left) on exit 38 (County Road 255). Cross U.S. 90 at Lee and continue to State Road 6 (about 4 miles). Turn right and proceed about 4 miles to Madison Blue Spring on the right just before crossing the Withlacoochie River. Put in canoe and paddle 10-15 minutes downstream. Seeps, cascades, and a spring are on the right on a sweeping left-hand turn just past the unnamed spring described above and a rope swing.

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 a wide, 90-degree bend of the river, and across from a large sandbar that is popular for bathers, there is a series of seeps, small cascades, and a small, attractive spring. The spring flows may be heard emptying into the river. The seeps and cascades are likely only visible when the river is low, for most of them were just a foot or two above the surface when the authors visited in summer 1999 when the river was 4 feet below the main watermarks on the surrounding limestone and trees. The spring (MAD612982) is across from the sandbar and lies in a depression on a limestone shelf. Water cascades from the spring into the river, and flows from a small cavity that is was at about the level of the river on the day of the visit.

Use/Access

Nearby Springs
 

Pot Spring
Hamilton County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”fine
How Pristine?'”near wooden platform and steps; small beach area, parking area
Swimming'”fine to excellent
Protection'”excellent
Crowds'”can be crowded on warm weekends
Access'”by canoe or car
Facilities'”fair (steps and parking)
Safety'”good
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”free

Directions
By canoe, the spring is about 45 minutes downriver from Madison Blue (see above for directions). By car, from I-10, go north (left) on exit 38 (County Road 255). Cross U.S. 90 at Lee and continue to State Road 6 (about 4 miles). Turn right and travel east for 5-6 miles, across the Withlacoochie River to County Road 143. Turn right and look for signs to the spring. Alternatively, one may put a canoe in at Madison Blue Spring and canoe downriver for approximately 35 minutes. Spring is on the left (east) bank adjacent to the river. Pot is a few minutes downstream of the unnamed seeps, cascades, and spring described above.

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
Located less than 10 minutes'™ downstream of a group of seeps, springs, and cascades on the Withlacoochie River, Pot Spring is a circular basin that opens directly into the river on the east bank. Water flows strongly from a limestone cavity that was approximately 14 feet deep on the date of visit (river was low). The pool is approximately 30 feet across. The bottom of the pool is sandy, and the water is clear and blue when the river is low or at normal levels. A wooden platform is at the downstream end of the pool, with steps leading from it to a sand parking lot. Small fish inhabit the spring. The natural levee of the river rises on three sides of the spring to a height of 15-20 feet. The clear water of the spring contrasts the darker'”sometimes much darker'”water of the river.

Use/Access

Local Springiana Personal Impressions

The spring is very attractive. The platform and boardwalk help prevent erosion and frame the site nicely.

Nearby Springs


 

Tanner Spring
Hamilton County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”very good to fine
How Pristine?'”almost completely pristine
Swimming'”fair
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”few visitors
Access'”good, canoe only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”good
Scuba'”unknown
Cost'”$3 to put canoe in at Madison Blue Springs, free if put in at boat ramp

Quick Directions
About 40 minutes downriver from Pot Spring on the east bank of the Withlacoochie River.

Full Directions
By canoe, the spring is about 90 minutes downriver from Madison Blue (see that spring for directions). By car, from I-10, go north (left) on exit 38 (County Road 255). Cross U.S. 90 at Lee and continue to State Road 6 (about 4 miles). Turn right and travel east for 4-5 miles to Madison Blue on the right at the bridge over the Withlacoochie River. Alternatively, one may put in a canoe at either the Highway 143 boat ramp (from County road 6 take Highway 143 south around two sharp curves to the first graded road on the right. Follow this road to the ramp), or another boat ramp between the Highway 143 ramp and the launch at Madison Blue (from the river go west on County Road 6 to the first graded road on the south side of the road. Follow the road 0.7 miles and the take the left fork to the ramp). The latter ramp is the nearest above 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 lies in a basin in a natural amphitheater and is circular and about 40 feet across. The water is somewhat dark and the bottom was not visible. There is a strong boil near the back of the pool and a powerful flow to a run to the river that is about 15 feet wide and 40 feet long. Hornsby & Ceryak (1998) characterize this spring as HAM612981, observed three boils, and state that the spring has a maximum depth of 24 feet (p. 135). Land rises 20-30 feet around the basin with fairly steep sides. The land around the spring is damp and rich in vegetation.

As most people come across this spring after canoeing past Pot Spring, the natural inclination is to compare them. By comparison, Tanner Spring is larger, further off the river, more canopied, and with darker water.

Use/Access

Nearby Springs
 
 

MAD612981 Spring
Madison County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”very good
How Pristine?'”completely pristine
Swimming'”fair
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”none
Access'”good, boat only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”good
Scuba'”none
Cost'”$3 to put canoe in at Madison Blue Springs, free if put in at downstream boat ramp

Quick Directions
About 30 minutes'™ paddle downriver from Tanner Spring near the west bank of the Withlacoochie River.

Full Directions
By canoe, the spring is about two hours downriver from Madison Blue (see that spring for directions). By car, from I-10, go north (left) on exit 38 (County Road 255). Cross U.S. 90 at Lee and continue to State Road 6 (about 4 miles). Turn right and travel east for 4-5 miles to Madison Blue on the right at the bridge over the Withlacoochie River. Alternatively, one may put in a canoe at the more northern Highway 143 boat ramp (from County Road 6 take Highway 143 south around two sharp curves to the first graded road on the right. Follow this road to the ramp; the spring is downriver near the west bank'”look for boil on the surface a few feet offshore.

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
A somewhat difficult-to-spot spring that is in the river near the bank on the west side of the river. A slick is visible at the surface, and at low levels a vent may be seen at a depth of about 5 feet. At higher levels, the boil above the vent is slightly lighter/clearer than the surrounding river.

Use/Access

Nearby Springs
 
 

HAM610984 Spring
Hamilton County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”very good
How Pristine?'”completely pristine
Swimming'”no
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”few visitors
Access'”good, boat only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”good
Scuba'”none
Cost'”$3 to put canoe in at Madison Blue Springs, free to put in at lower boat ramps

Directions
About 6 miles downstream of Madison Blue Springs, 2-3 miles down stream of first boat ramp below there, and just below second boat ramp below Blue on the 30 minutes'™ paddle downriver from Tanner Spring on the west bank of the Withlacoochie River.

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

Spring Description
In two trips on the river, JF missed this spring both times. It is characterized by Hornsby & Ceryak (1988) as flowing "from a fracture at the base of the riverbank" and as having two boils. Apparently, running water can be heard coming from the riverbank, suggesting there are also seeps on the bank itself (p. 134).

Use/Access
None apparent.

Nearby Springs


 
 

Morgan and Nearby Springs
Hamilton & Madison Counties

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd and 3rd magnitudes
Scenery'”very good
How Pristine?'”very unspoiled
Swimming'”fair
Protection'”unknown
Crowds'”none
Access'”good, boat only
Facilities'”none
Safety'”good to fair
Scuba'”no
Cost'”$3 launch fee at Madison Blue Springs, free if put in at downriver boat ramps; $3.25 to put in at Suwannee River State Park

Directions
About 10 miles south of State Road 6, or three miles north of the confluence or the Withlacoochie and Suwannee Rivers; four springs on the east bank and two on the left, with the east bank spring being the further north.  By canoe, the spring is about four hours downriver from Madison Blue (see that spring for directions). By car, from I-10, go north (left) on exit 38 (County Road 255). Cross U.S. 90 at Lee and continue to State Road 6 (about 4 miles). Turn right and travel east for 4-5 miles to Madison Blue on the right at the bridge over the Withlacoochie River. Alternatively, one may put in a canoe at two boat ramps below State Road 6 from Highway 143, or put in at the launch on the Suwannee River at Suwannee River Sate Park and head up the Withlacoochie about three miles.

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
Several small and attractive springs flow from the banks or limestone grottoes, all with clear water and blue over their vents when the river is low or at normal levels and the light is right. The springs are all within about a half-mile of each other. Some are recessed in short runs, and others are right on the river (Hornsby & Ceryak (1998, pp. 131-139). The one major spring, Morgan (or Morgan'™s), is on the east side and forms a large (80 feet in diameter), mostly circular pool with limestone walls around it. It has a run of nearly 100 yards to the river. According to Hornsby & Ceryak (1998, p. 132), the vent is at a depth of 80 feet and leads to a cave system. On the date of visit, the pool was a milky blue and the water was clear but not clear enough to see the vent.

Use/Access

Nearby Springs
 

Suwannacoochie Spring
Hamilton County

Summary of Features
Scale'”2nd magnitude
Scenery'”fine
How Pristine?'”remnant of concrete structure surrounds spring
Swimming'”fair (in spring) to very good (in adjacent river)
Protection'”excellent
Crowds'”few
Access'”good
Facilities'”none
Safety'”very good
Scuba'”yes
Cost'”free

Quick Directions
A two-minute walk on a dirt path in the NE corner of the small park where U.S. 90 crosses the Suwannee River on the NW side of the river. Alternatively, a four-minute paddle downriver from the boat ramp in Suwannee River State Park to the confluence with the Withlacoochie River and a 2-minute paddle up the Withlacoochie River to the spring structure on the west side.

Full Directions
Near the U.S. 90 bridge on the NW side, turn left into the parking lot, by the sign that says "Suwannee River State Park, Picnic Area Annex, 8 A.M. to Sunset." Beyond the parking lot is a grassy expanse with stone picnic tables, barbecue grills, and large trees in a park-like setting down to the Suwannee.

The spring is located on the Withlacoochie River, about 300 feet before it merges with the Suwannee River, on the west side of the river. Notice the gateway on the side opposite from the road, with a chain blocking vehicles. Walk through there (not left, where there is a path right by the parking area) and along the line of tall pines into the woods, where you will see a wide path. Just inside the woods you will see a small sinkhole to your right, with trees growing in it. Follow the path and pass under the concrete railroad trestle. If you listen, you might hear bats squeaking in the grooves above, hidden in the dark recesses. Keep going, without taking any detours to the side and you will come across a clear area, completely shaded, probably with the remains of campfires. The spring is down in the hollow in front of you, on the river below.

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
A concrete wall separates the spring from the river, on the west bank of which it sits. The pool is "D"-shaped with walls of exposed limestone and a diameter of about 20 feet.  A forceful vent in the back of the spring expels water into the river forcefully.  The wall is composed of large rectangular concrete blocks and that formed a former sawmill.  Water rushes through its gap into the river.  About 35 feet behind the spring is a hole in the rising hillside. When visited in the late 1990s, this hole appeared to have water flowing toward the main pool, and a fire hose extending into it, suggesting divers traveled from the hole to the spring vent.

Use/Access

Local Springiana
Suwannacoochie Spring once provided power for a sawmill and the remains of its concrete walls can still be seen. In the 1860s, Florida's Governor Drew established the town and its sawmill. His mansion was nearby. The population quickly grew to several hundred. The sign says that the town flourished "as long as yellow pine lasted." After 1900, when the trees were gone, the population dropped and the last post office was closed in 1942. Governor Drew's mansion burned down in the 1970s. You would hardly guess that a town ever existed here, as nature has reclaimed most evidence of human settlement.

Personal Impressions
Before he had a canoe or figured out how to reach Suwanacoochie Spring from the land, JF determined to visit the spring and walked across the railroad bridge over the Suwannee River to get there. It was mid-summer, and the tar on the bridge was slippery. JF feared he would slip over the side, or alternatively that a train would come along while he was on the bridge and he would be forced to jump into the Suwannee River 50 feet below. He survived unscathed, but had to throw out his stained and sticky shoes.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
 
 

Adams Spring
Hamilton County

Summary of Features
Crowds'”private
Access'”private

Directions
From the junction of State Roads 6 and 141, drive SW on 141 for about 4.5 miles, then turn west onto Corinth Church Road. Drive for about 2 miles to T-junction, then turn south (left) for less than half a mile. At old wood frame house, turn right (west) onto private drive. Spring is 0.7 miles 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 spring is on private property and not accessible. Rosenau et al. (1977, p. 131-2) describe the spring as a large, kidney-shaped pool about 550 feet wide and 225 feet wide. It was covered in duckweed and had no discernable flow. Based on the description, the spring may in fact be a spring-sink combination or "karst window."

Use/Access
None. The authors drove toward the site, but did not trespass.

Personal Impressions
Not coincidentally, once the authors discovered they could not get to the spring, they also decided it was not worth visiting anyway!

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features