Springs Fever: A Field & Recreation Guide to 500 Florida Springs.
2nd Edition by Joe Follman and Richard Buchanan

Sunbeam Spring

Columbia County

Summary of Features

  • Scale -2nd magnitude
  • Scenery -excellent
  • How Pristine? -development nearby; spring very pristine
  • Swimming -good wading and snorkeling
  • Protection -good
  • Crowds -boat traffic going by
  • Access -good; boat only
  • Facilities -none
  • Safety -good
  • Scuba -no
  • Cost -free

Quick Directions

Five minutes past the unnamed possible spring and COL917971Spring on the Santa Fe River. 15-20 minute paddle upriver from private boat ramp at Oasis Spring near the middle of the river.

Directions

From U.S. 27 in Ft. White, take Wilson Springs Road west about 4 miles to the spring and boat ramp on the Santa Fe River. Go downriver on theSanta Fe 2-3 miles, past 2 sets of small shoals and a hairpin turn. The spring five minutes' paddle past COL917971 and lies in the riverbed a little toward the north (Columbia County) side. To get to the Oasis boat ramp: From Branford, drive east/south on U.S. 27 to junction with Highway 129/49. Turn south. Drive about 5 miles to Highway 138 and turn east. Drive 3.4 miles to NE 2nd Way. Follow 2nd Way for 2.6 miles to dirt road on right and the boat ramp.

Spring Description

The spring is in the riverbed and flows from two points in an up-jutting fissure/fracture that was exposed when the authors visited (January 2001) during a time of drought. Water flows powerfully out of a crack in the limestone. On date of visit, more than 10 feet of the crack was exposed, and water flowed up and out against the current of the surrounding river. The crack angles downward to the riverbed, and water flowing froma second opening on the river bottom (about 18 feet upriver) creates another strong boil. Water in the spring is clear, and there was colorful algae growing on the limestone. The rocks were also covered with tiny (about 1 cm) periwinkle-like snails. Sunlight shafted into the exposed flowing vent, which is up to two feet wide and narrows as it goes down. The riverbed was about 6 feet deep on date of visit, and the bottom was visible.

Use/Access

Personal Impressions

Sunbeam is a spectacular sight in times of low river water, and appealing and attractive under all but flood conditions. The upfolded fracture creates a dramatic and rare flow spectacle under dry conditions. The authors cannot think of another spring that offers such a prospect in the middle of a river. The closest approximation is Little River Spring (on the Suwannee River) in time of extreme drought, when the visitor can also stand on the limestone directly over the site of the flow and look down into the mouth of the cavern.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features