|Summary of Features
Directions (address and phone: 8600 W. Miss Maggie Drive, Chassahowitzka, FL 34448, 352-382-2200)
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. Link to Google map: http://chassahowitzkaflorida.com/maps.htm
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 then 8-year-old daughter) almost turned back but resolved 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 five feet deep. The vent on the left is more subtle and not inviting. 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. It is this pool that is described by Champion and Starks as a "vent formed by a large fracture in the limestone approximately 10 feet deep and 2-3 feet wide" (May 2001, p. 72). Note: it is possible that JF and RB were mistaken, and the actual spring was further back than they were able to traverse. In their best estimate, however, they reached the springheads.
- As the authors were not properly attired or equipped for a spring reconnaissance of this difficulty (they were wearing swim trunks and beach shoes/sandals and had no first aid kit or provisions), locating Ruth Spring was the an exceptional challenge. In retrospect, it was unwise to have brought along JF's young daughter, but everyone got caught up in locating the spring and were fortunate to have not suffered any mishap.
- Walking on the muddy land looked like it would be even more difficult and is not recommended without boots, long pants, and snakebite protection.
- The nearby Chassahowitzka River Campground (http://chassahowitzkaflorida.com/) includes primitive and modern camping, a camp store, boat rentals, a clubhouse, and restrooms. Canoes can be rented for a reasonable fee.
- The Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge begins 2 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.).
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.
- Other Chassahowitzka River springs (Chassahowitzka Main Spring, Crab Creek Springs, Lettuce Spring, Houseboat Spring, Salt Springs, Potter Spring, Solution Holes, The Crack, Beteejay Spring, Blue Run Spring)
- Blue Spring
- Crystal River
- Homosassa Springs
- Weeki Wachee Spring
- Rainbow Springs
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