Ichetucknee (or Head) Spring
Summary of Features
- Scale -2nd magnitude
- Scenery -fine
- How Pristine? -developed swim and picnic areas, retaining wall and fence around spring
- Swimming -good-very good, excellent snorkeling
- Protection -excellent
- Crowds -heavy on warm days
- Access -excellent
- Facilities -fine
- Safety -fine
- Scuba -no
- Cost -varies by use--see Use/Access below
Directions (address: 12087 SW U.S. Highway 27 Fort White, FL 32038 (386) 497-4690
From Branford, drive SE on U.S. 27 for about 10 miles. Turn north (left) at park sign onto State Road 137. Take first paved road on the right (State Road 238) to park entrance on the right. The spring is 250 feet from the head of the main parking area on the left below the restrooms.
The spring forms an irregularly shaped pool of about 75 by 100 feet in an area that slopes down 15 feet from the surrounding parkland and forest. Water flows from beneath a 20-foot-long limestone ledge in the NW end of the pool from several points at depths of up to 25 feet. The water is clear and deep blue over the vent, and the entire pool usually has a blue hue. There are small fish and minnows in the pool and larger fish near the limestone opening. There is exposed limestone in the pool and at the surface. The spring forms the headwaters of the Ichetucknee River. A fence is strung across the mouth of the pool to prevent access from tubers and canoes into the spring. There is a rock wall on one side of the pool. The general depth of the pool is about 8 feet.
- The spring is the main swimming area for Ichetucknee Springs State Park and is a very popular spot that is good for children.
- Park officials removed several truckloads of sand, broken rock, and other debris from the spring in 2002 after hearing from longtime residents that the spring has formerly been much deeper. Over the years, tons of brought-in beach sand had washed into the spring pool, reducing its depth to only about 12 feet from a small vent and 3-5 feet overall in the pool. Restored, the overall pool is twice as deep and the once-small vent is revealed to be a large limestone opening nearly on the scale of Alexander Spring in the Ocala National Forest.
- Tubers and canoers can put in just below the spring for a 3.5 mile run. The tube run is perhaps the most popular in Florida, and only 2,000 people are allowed on the river per day. Summer visitors are advised to arrive early, especially on weekends.
- There is a nature trail along part of the spring run just below the spring at the canoe/tube put-in on the west side. A shuttle service ferries tubers from the parking area to the river and back from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Tubes must be obtained outside the park.
- This spring is one of a series of springs that form the Ichetucknee River. Altogether, the springs discharge an average of over 230 million gallons of water per day.
- Park fees are as follows: $6 per vehicle (up to 8 people per vehicle, and no river use/tubing/canoeing); $4 for single car occupant; $4 for 1 – 2 persons on a motorcycle; $2 for pedestrians, bicyclists, and people with annual entrance permits; The cost for tram service is $5.00 plus tax per person. The cost for shuttle service is $7.00 plus tax per person which also includes tram service. Tram and shuttle tickets and wrist bands are purchased at the concession facility adjacent to the parking lot at the South Entrance of the park..
- There is a nature trail along part of the spring run just below Ichetucknee Spring at the canoe/tube put-in on the west side.
- Tubing at the park can be done from three locations: North end (3 hours). Mid-point ( 1.5 hours), and Dampier's LAnding (1 hour). The peak tubing season is from Memorial Day to Labor Day. A shuttle service ferries tubers from the parking area to the river and back from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Tubes must be obtained outside the park. Tubing is in the river and not in the springs.
- The park includes bathrooms and picnic facilities, and a concession stand at the south entrance.
- A citizen support organization, the Friends of Ichetucknee Springs, Inc., has been established to support Ichetucnkee Springs and its watershed. For more information, see www.floridastateparks.org/content/friends-ichetucknee-springs-state-park.
Except when there are crowds at the spring, Ichetucknee Spring is a very enticing and attractive spot. The manmade features do not significantly mar the relatively natural appearance of the spring, and the restoration efforts have at least doubled the submerged area, making it an excellent spot for snorleking.
- Blue Hole Spring
- Cedar Head Spring
- Mission/Roaring/Fig/Singing Springs
- Devil's Eye Springs
- Grassy Hole Spring
- Mill Pond Spring
- Coffee Spring
Other Nearby Natural Features
- Ichetucknee Springs State Park
- O’Leno State Park
- San Felasco Hammock State Preserve
- Devil’s Millhopper State Geologic Site
- River Rise State Preserve