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. Google Maps Link: www.flsprings.com/content/suwanacoochee-spring
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.
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.
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.
- The site is explored by visitors, and the banks just below the spring are used by swimmers. According to Rosenau et al., there was an old swimming pool off to the SW of the pool that "might have been fed by the flow from Suwannacoochie Spring" (1977, p. 259). JF did not find this site.
- A huge rock with a flat top juts out over the river like a diving board, and the water there is deep. JF’s children love to jump off this natural dive platform into the river and float downstream along the bank. A few hundred feet downstream, the Withlacoochee merges with the dark waters of the Suwannee.
- The turbulent mouth of the spring may be seen from the viewing platform over the river at Suwannee River State Park.
- One can walk along the shore dowriver the 300 feet to where the Withlacoochie joins the Suwannee, and you can follow it to get a view of the Suwannee and nearby Ellaville Spring. Ellaville Spring is across the Suwannee and just down stream of the modern railroad bridge. Another good view can be had from the old U.S. 90 bridge. The bridge is closed to vehicles. The gray girders overhead are rusting, and plants grow in the asphalt itself all along the edge of the bridge. If you stand in the middle and look upstream, you will see the railroad trestle that you pass under on the way to the Suwannacoochie spring. On the right bank of the Suwannee, just south of the trestle, you can see the run from Ellaville Spring. On the other side of the trestle is the rest of Suwannee River State Park.
- At the point of confluence of the two rivers, one can look across the Suwannee and see remnant of where the old ferry landing (used to get people and goods across the river) was cut through the natural river levee. On the Withlacoochie/Suwannee side of this landing, the old road (which now leads back toward the parking area), can still be followed.
- Suwannacoochie Spring, Lime Spring Run, Ellaville Spring, and Little Gem Spring are all within about 400 yards of the boat ramp at the State Park.
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.
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.
- Anderson Spring
- Ellaville Spring
- Lime Spring
- Little Gem Spring
- Madison Blue
- Pot Spring
- Tanner Spring
- Morgan spring
- Unnamed seeps, springs, and cascades
Other Nearby Natural Features
- Suwannee River State Park
- Two Rivers State Forest