Summary of Features
- Scale - 3rd magnitude
- Scenery - excellent
- How Pristine? - house and cleared area near spring, otherwise very natural
- Swimming - excellent, excellent snorkeling
- Protection - outstanding
- Crowds - none
- Access - very limited (see below)
- Facilities - none from water, furnished rental house on site
- Safety - fine
- Scuba - no
- Cost - rental fee for house on spring
From the intersection of State Roads 40 and 19 in the Ocala National Forest, drive about three miles north on SR 19 to where the highway crosses Juniper Creek. Put in and canoe about 0.6 miles upriver to mouth of Sweetwater Spring run on the right and go a short distance (about 135 feet) to the spring. Note: a sign at the mouth of the spring run declares that one may not enter the spring basin. Access by land limited to people who win a lottery to stay a week at the cabin on the creek (see http://camprrm.com/2009/09/sweetwater-cabin/ or call (352) 625-0546, or write to Recreation Resource Management, Inc., 26701 E. Hwy. 40, Silver Springs, FL 34488 for information). The entrance to the spring by land is a 1-mile dirt drive a few hundred feet north of the bridge over Juniper Creek on the west side of the road.
Sweetwater Spring consists of two main flows that form a single pool with rough overall dimensions of 75 by 40 feet in diameter. The larger flow is from beneath a limestone ledge in the central portion of the pool near the bank on the north side. The opening is about 2 feet long, 10 feet deep, and the flow creates a visible boil on the surface. The second vent is much smaller and is in the NW corner of the pool adjacent to the bank in about 4 feet of water. Water from the vents is clear and clean, and there is a blue tint over the vents. The bottom of the pool is mostly sandy, and there are small fish in the pool.
Land on the north side of the pool slopes up perhaps 15 feet above the water, and the bank is about 5 feet high. The south side is separated from Juniper Creek by a small peninsula and an island in the creek. The pool is almost completely canopied, and the lower portion is dominated by a large live oak that leans over into the pool. This tree is buttressed by a wooden pillar to prevent it from falling completely into the pool. Flow from the pool exits at the SE end in a clear run that is 5-12 feet wide, 2-4 feet deep, and about 100 feet long before joining Juniper Creek.
- From January-May each year, people may submit up to three sets of dates to try and reserve the cabin on Sweetwater Spring for a week during the next calendar year. The fully furnished (except linens) house on the spring sleeps 10. Competition for the cabin-on-spring is extremely keen.
- While one may canoe Juniper Creek to the mouth of the Sweetwater Spring run, access to the spring itself is denied--a sign says the area is not open to the general public in order to protect the privacy of folks renting the cabin at the spring.
- The overarching oak tree provides excellent perches and jumping-off opportunities for swimmers.
- There is a rope swing at the spring.
- The Florida National Scenic Trail comes to within a couple of miles of the spring.
To have a spring all to oneself is every spring-lover's dream come true, and those who win the lottery for a stay at the Sweetwater cabin are able to do it. This lovely spring is a very peaceful, attractive, and contemplative setting--the place the spring gods would go on vacation if there were such entities.
- Alexander Springs
- Fern Hammock Springs
- Juniper Springs
- Salt Spring
- Silver Glen Springs
- Silver Springs
- DeLeon Spring
- Orange Spring
Other Nearby Natural Features
- Lake Woodruff Wildlife Refuge
- Welaka State Forest
- Tiger Bay State Forest
- Withlacoochie State Forest
- Ocala National Forest