Holton Creek Rise
Summary of Features
- Scale -1st magnitude
- Scenery -outstanding
- How Pristine? -completely pristine
- Swimming -no
- Protection -excellent
- Wildlife -excellent
- Crowds -none
- Access -must have clear directions and map
- Facilities -none
- Safety -good
- Scuba -no
- Cost -free
From Madison, take U.S. 90 east 2-3 miles until the fork with State Road 6. Take SR6 east, across the Withlacoochie River, and proceed about 12 miles to County Road 751. Turn right and drive about 3.5 miles to SW67th Drive. Turn left. (If you pass the agriculture weigh station or cross the Suwannee River, you have gone too far.) SW 67th Drive is a wide dirt road that angles sharply back. The sign for Adams Farm Country Store (also called the "Y'all Mart") is plainly visible, moreso than the small sign for the Holton Creek WMA. Continue down the dirt road, passing the country store on your left in an area of clear-cut logging. This is the only structure to be seen as far as the eye can see. Note the catfish pond next to the small store.
Just after the store, turn right onto a narrower dirt road, following the signs. The spring is about 2.5 miles down this road. The roads are numbered with tiny metal squares on low posts--this one is "Road 1". Follow the road, and the Holton WMA signs through alternating planted pines and hardwoods. At about 0.7 miles, you pass a small brown shed and 2 little signs with a small roof over them, with posters behind glass. Continue onward; when you come to Road 8, turn left and go until you reach Road 5. Turn right on Road 5 and Holton Spring will be on your left.
The acre-sized spring/creek rise and its run lie in deep woods and are canopied. The basin is surrounded by steep banks of 30 feet or more and makes a sharp turn as it empties into its 0.7 mile run to the Suwannee River. The pool is over 200 feet in diameter. Water in the spring was tannin-colored on the date the authors visited. Turtles and gar were visible at or near the surface. Holton has a powerful flow. Limestone outcrops line the edges of the basin, and a trail leads around the spring and along both sides of the run. A few hundred feet down the run, an immense cypress tree sits in the middle of the stream. When the site was visited (late spring 1999) the land was dotted with white swamp lilies, sweet gum balls, and palmettos. Huge hardwood trees surround the spring, while the surrounding land is pocked with sinkholes and hollows. Herons and egrets were observed at the spring.
Holton is one of the more remote springs in Florida. Without precise directions, it is virtually impossible to locate. Now that the Suwannee River Water Management District protects Holton Spring and 2,300 acres around it, access is no longer difficult. Their description (Johnson &Faircloth) of the site is worth quoting in detail:
This tract features . . . hundreds of sinkholes and depressional areas, and two state champion cypress trees. It also has a unique mixture of adjacent high quality upland and wetland natural communities that cannot be found anywhere else in the Upper Suwannee River Basin. The primary natural communities found on Holton Creek include sandhills, upland forests, and bottomland forests which frequently flood. Trees and understory commonly seen include cypress, water elm, pine, oak, hickory, magnolia, beech, saw palmetto, swamp privet, sparkleberry, and wiregrass. This property also contains some of the most extensive old growth bottomland forest remaining in the Upper Suwannee River Basin (1996, p. 42).
The lower third of the run to the Suwannee River is bordered by private land. The beauty of the area at the spring is a sharp contrast to the denuded landscape and tree farms nearby.
Holton is one of the most attractive and pristine springs in Florida. Watch for potholes in the dirt roads abound the spring. JF jounced the canoe off RB's new car when they visited, scratching the paint job on the car.
- Alapaha Rise Spring
- Lime Spring
- Ellaville Spring
- Little Gem Spring
- Falmouth Spring
- Adams Spring
- Morgan's Spring
- Suwannacoochie Spring
Other Nearby Natural Features
- Suwannee River State Park
- Withlacoochie River
- Two Rivers State Forest
An Essay on Holton Spring
For a long time, Holton Spring was almost impossible to visit. Down a tangle of ever-narrowing, unmarked sand roads, it was hidden except to locals and a few scientists. Now, however, it is under the protection of the Suwannee River Water Mgt. District, and they can provide you with an exact map. By car, it is just a few minutes from Alapaha. Along the way,you may wish to get provisions at the local country store, which has thebrilliant name of "Y’all Mart."
Holton is one of Florida’s 33 first magnitude springs,meaning its flow is at least 65 million gallons each day. Holton’s averageflow is 186 million gallons/day. Although the land surrounding the managementarea is all either farm land or clear-cut moonscape, the trees get larger and the forest more dense as you near the spring. Sinkholes pock the surrounding landscape, and you know you are in spring country.
The spring is an acre-sized pool in a 30-foot deep depression surrounded completely by overhanging pine and oak trees. A huge cypress looms over the spring. The spring cannot be seen from the road, so scramble out and walk the trail on its perimeter. The south end is open for the powerful and swift run to the Suwannee River. Turtles, herons, and gar seemed very surprised at being discovered, and indeed the site is offers rare solitude and communion with nature. The day of our visit, thousands of lily-like flowers were in bloom all around the spring, washing the rolling hills in pink and peach.
The water was not clear this day, so of course I shall have to return to see if it is always tinged with tannin or might be clear under other conditions. Make a visit yourself. After going you’ll be able to stump your friends and colleagues by asking if they have been to Holton.
Suwannee River Water Management District
Live Oak, FL 32060
800-226-1066; website: www.srwmd.state.fl.us/index.aspx?nid=169