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

Suwannacoochie Spring

Hamilton County

Summary of Features

  • Scale -2nd magnitude
  • Scenery -fine
  • How Pristine? -remnant of concrete structure (mill) surrounds spring
  • Swimming -fair (in spring) to very good (in adjacent river)
  • Protection -excellent
  • Crowds -few
  • Access -good
  • Facilities -none; fine in nearby state park
  • Safety -very good
  • Scuba -yes
  • Cost -free

Directions

Quick Directions

A two-minute walk on a dirt path in the NE corner of the small park where U.S. 90 crosses the Suwannee River on the NW side of the river. Alternatively, a four-minute paddle downriver from the boat ramp in Suwannee River State Park to the confluence with the Withlacoochie River and a 2-minute paddle up the Withlacoochie River to the spring structure on the west side.

Further Directions

Near the U.S. 90 bridge on the NW side of the Suwannee River, turn left into the parking lot, by the sign that says "Suwannee River State Park, Picnic Area Annex, 8 A.M. to Sunset." Beyond the parking lot is a grassy expanse with stone picnic tables, barbecue grills, and large trees in a park-like setting down to the Suwannee.

The spring is located on the Withlacoochie River, about 300 feet before it merges into the Suwannee River, on the west side of the river. Notice the gateway on the side opposite from the road, with a chain blocking vehicles. Walk through there (not left, where there is a path right by the parking area) and along the line of tall pines into the woods, where you will see a wide path. Just inside the woods you will see a small sinkhole to your right, with trees growing in it. Follow the path and pass under the concrete railroad trestle. If you listen, you might hear bats squeaking in the grooves above, hidden in the dark recesses. Keep going, without taking detours and you will come across a clear area, completely shaded, probably with the remains of campfires. The spring is down in the hollow in front of you, on the river below.

Spring Description

A concrete wall separates the spring from the river, on the west bank of which it sits. The pool is "D"-shaped, with walls of exposed limestone and a diameter of about 20 feet.  A forceful vent in the back of the spring expels water into the river forcefully.  The wall is composed of large rectangular concrete blocks and that formed a former sawmill.  Water rushes through its gap into the river.  About 35 feet behind the spring is a hole in the rising hillside. When visited in the late 1990s, this hole appeared to have water flowing toward the main pool, and a fire hose extending into it, suggesting divers traveled from the hole to the spring vent.

Use/Access

Local Springiana

Suwannacoochie Spring once provided power for a sawmill, and the remains of its concrete walls can still be seen. In the 1860s, Florida's Governor Drew established the town and its sawmill. His mansion was nearby. The population quickly grew to several hundred. The sign says that the town flourished "as long as yellow pine lasted." After 1900, when the trees were gone, the population dropped and the last post office was closed in 1942. Governor Drew's mansion burned down in the 1970s. You would hardly guess that a town ever existed here, as nature has reclaimed most evidence of human settlement.

Personal Impressions

Before he had a canoe or figured out how to reach Suwanacoochie Spring from the land, JF determined to visit the spring and walked across the railroad bridge over the Suwannee River to get there. It was mid-summer, and the tar on the bridge was slippery. JF feared he would slip over the side, or alternatively that a train would come along while he was on the bridge and he would be forced to jump into the Suwannee River 50 feet below. He survived unscathed, but had to throw out his stained and sticky shoes.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features