Sylvian (or Sullivan) Springs Group
Summary of Features
- Scale - 2nd magnitude (estimated)
- Scenery - excellent
- How Pristine? - very pristine
- Swimming - poor
- Protection - excellent
- Crowds - some on warm weekends
- Access - fine, boat or foot
- Facilities - none at site, very good nearby
- Safety - good
- Scuba - no
- Cost - free
Off State Road 20 about seven miles west of where it intersects with U.S. 231 north of Panama City. Put canoe in on right just before SR20 crosses Econfina Creek and paddle 1/10 upstream past Pitt Spring to Sylvian Spring run on the left. The spring may also be reached on foot from the parking lot at the Pitt Spring Recreation Area. The spring is approximately two minutes by foot. From Panama City, drive north on U.S. 2301, then turn left onto County Road 231, which goes through Bayou George, becomes Blue Spring Road, and intersects State Road 20 ¼ mile east of the bridge over Econfina Creek. Follow above directions from there.
Approximately 8 springs flow from limestone cavities at or near the western rim of a circular spring pool. The pool is about 125 feet in diameter and is circular. There is a small forested island (about 25 feet across) in the center of the pool, which is 1-3 feet deep and has very clear water except in times of drought or elevated river levels. One spring flows swiftly from the bank at the SW end of the pool. The flow from another spring about 250 feet to the south empties into the extreme SW corner of the Sylvian Springs pool (see Unnamed Spring in next description). Six other vents, boils, and seeps flow from either the bank or openings in the limestone near the bank in the NW end. These flows are nearly in a line, are within a space of about 30 feet, and constitute the primary water sources that form the spring basin and Sylvian Springs.
When JF visited in April 2000, the river was several feet below normal, and two of the vents produced prominent raised (6") boils. On a visit inSeptember 2001, the boils were only about half as high. The spring run forks around the small islands on its way to Econfina Creek about 200 feet to the east, creating an attractive and heavily wooded pool. The bottom is sandy. On an earlier visit to the spring (12/97), on a cloudy day when the river was several feet above normal, the run to Sylvian was partially blocked by fallen trees, and entry required portage at the mouth of the run. The area in high water was somewhat tangled. The authors spotted only one vent at the NW end under those conditions.
- The spring and land around it are owned by the NW Florida Water Management District.
- The water in the spring is too shallow for swimming, and is best viewed from either the land or from a canoe or kayak.
- The spring may be reached by a five-minute trail from the parking lot at Pitt Spring.
- In times of low water, one may wade up the clear run to the spring vent sand the trail.
- There are other trails at the water’s edge that encircle the spring pool and run. These trails are very muddy and even impassable in wet weather or times of high water.
Because of its land access and proximity to Pitt Spring, the area around the spring can be crowded on warm days. There are a couple of spots along the river near the mouths of the spring run that are used to jump from trees into the river.
Different seasons and water levels create stark contrasts at this spring. In times of high water, the spring is dark and feels wild, remote, and almost creepy. On a warm, sunny day with low water, it is bright, clear, and inviting.
- Gainer Springs
- Emerald Spring
- McCormick Springs
- Pitt Spring
- WillifordS pring
- Ponce de Leon Springs
- Vortex Spring
- Cypress Spring
- Morrison Spring
- Walsingham Spring
- Unnamed Econfina Creek-Bed Spring
- Glowing Spring
- Blue Springs Group
- Williford Run Spring
Other Nearby Natural Features
- St. Andrews State Recreation Area
- Falling Waters State Recreation Area
- Pitt Spring Recreation Area
NW Florida Water Management District