The Crack (or Miss Maggie's Crack or Baird) Spring
Summary of Features
- Scale -3rd magnitude
- 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
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.
The spring may also be reached by land--ask for directions at the campground.
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
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.
- Access by canoe (and then by foot) only. Boats cannot get through the tight squeeze and turns behind Blue Spring. Visiting this spring is nearly a one-hour side trip off the Chassahowitzka River (but is well worth it).
- The spring offers wading, snorkeling, and nature observation. It is well known in the local area and sometimes has trash and evidence of campfires.
- The nearby Chassahowitzka River Campground includes primitive and modern camping, a camp store, boat rentals, a telephone, and restrooms. Canoes can be rented for a reasonable fee.
- The Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge begins 3 miles below this spring. It is accessible only by boat, and is closed to human visitors from October 15-February 15 each year to protect wildlife. The refuge provides sanctuary for 250 species of birds, over 40 types of reptiles and amphibians, and more than 25 types of mammals ("Chass. National Wildlife Refuge," U.S.F.W.S., n.d.).
- When JF and his brother visited The Crack in September 2000, a mullet jumped into their (somewhat tippy) rental canoe just as they were going through the narrow passage to The Crack at the back of Blue Spring. In an unreasoned panic (they forgot that mullet are smooth and cannot "fin" you), both brothers tumbled out of the canoe. They later commented the unusual situation of the fish in the boat and the people in the creek, but JF’s brother never saw any humor in it.
"Miss Maggie" owned the original public campground at the headwaters of the Chassahowitzka River.
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.
- Other Chassahowitzka River springs (Chassahowitzka MainSpring, Crab Creek Springs, Solution Holes, Lettuce Spring, Houseboat Spring, Salt Springs, Potter Spring, Ruth Spring, Beteejay Spring, Blue Run Spring)
- Blue Spring
- Crystal River
- Homosassa Springs
- Weeki Wachee Spring
- Rainbow 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