Springs Fever: A Field & Recreation Guide to 500 Florida Springs.
3rd Edition by Joe Follman and Richard Buchanan

Charles Spring

Suwannee County

Summary of Features

  • Scale -2nd magnitude
  • Scenery -excellent
  • How Pristine? -parking area, steps, and some cleared land around spring and run, algae in run
  • Swimming -air to good
  • Protection -excellent
  • Crowds -visited mostly on weekends
  • Access -very good
  • Facilities -boat ramp
  • Safety -very good
  • Scuba -no
  • Cost -free


Website link to map to spring

From the flashing light in Luraville, drive north on State Road 51 about four miles and then turn left at the gas station onto County Road 252, also called Charles Spring Road (and 152nd Street). Go almost four miles and the paved road will bend sharply to the left. The sign will say Dowling Park. Instead of turning, go straight ahead on the dirt road, which will curve around left for 1.1 miles until you see a stop sign, seemingly out of place. Then you will cross another dirt road into the narrow entranceto Charles Spring. There is no sign.

Spring Description

Charles Spring has two limestone bridges, creating two pools at its head and a shallow run of about 250 feet to the Suwannee. The pools can be green, blue, or clear depending on rain and light conditions and water levels. The spring vent appears to be under one of the limestone bridges, and the vent is not readily visible. The run is very clear and flows over and through gnarled cypress roots and over rocks where the run meets the river. At normal water levels, the run tumbles about four feet into the river. The run ranges from 40 feet wide near the limestone bridges to about 12 feet wide near the river and is from 1-4 feet deep. In times of drought,the run can dry up completely, leaving only water in pools among the limestone bridges.

When JF visited the spring in January 2004, he was struck by the large amounts of algae growing in the run; this algae has not historically been in the run in such profusion--nearly the entire run was covered in long, green strips--and is the result of elevated levels of nitrate flowing from the spring.


Local Springiana

Historical accounts suggest that the early Spanish Conquistadors crossed the Suwannee at this site, following an Indian trail. A Spanish mission, San Juan de Guacara, was built near the spring. In the 19thcentury, settlers (including Ruben Charles) built on the site and ran a ferry operation across the river. After Charles died in 1842, his wife ran the ferry for ten more years, until she was shot and killed on her front porch (Springs of the Suwannee, SRWMD, no date).

Personal Impressions

Charles is a very attractive if somewhat remote spring that makes for a great picnic, wading, and canoeing site.  The rising nitrate levels, which are common in all the springs in this region, are causing huge and disgusting amounts of algae growth that significantly (and for the forseeable future) mar and degrade the spring.

Nearby Springs

Contact Information

Suwannee River Water Management District
9225 CR49
Live Oak, FL 32060