|Summary of Features
Address: 1600 Twigg Strteet, Palatka, FL 32177, 386-329-3721. From the intersection of U.S. 17 and State Road 20, go south on U.S. 17 for 0.9 miles. Turn south onto 18th Street and proceed to Twigg Street and the entrance to the Ravine State Gardens (www.floridastateparks.org/park/Ravine-Gardens). Using a map and directions from state staff. Walk down into the ravines behind the visitors' center. Proceed upstream along the spring-fed creek (also upstream of the footbridge) to main spring flows in the NW part of the ravines. Other spring flows are in the other 20 ravines in the area.
A number of steephead springs, seeps, and flowing wells flow from the approximately 20 ravines that make up the geologic feature that is today called Ravine Gardens. The ravines were formed "by water flowing from beneath the sandy ridges that flank the west shore of the St. Johns River" (Florida State Parks, 1999, p. 27), which is a short distance to the east.
Two connected sets of ravines form a V-shaped depression nearly a mile long and from 70-130 feet deep. Creeks are formed in the bottom of each arm of the "V" and meet at the bend to flow to the St. Johns River. The larger springs are in the NW end of the upper or northern arm of the "V." Three springs are easily visible flowing up in the bottom of the ravine. At least one is a flowing well, and water comes up in a small fountain about 4" in height. The main flow was a pool at the west end of the ravine. It is perhaps 50 feet across and was obscured on date of visit (December 2000) by felled bamboo. The bamboo had been planted ornamentally in the ravine and appeared to have recently been felled.
Other springs and seeps may be viewed from the walking trails within the ravine along both arms of the "V." They typically lie along the steep slopes of the ravine and flow to the creek in the bottom. Rosenau et al. (1977) cite statements from staff at the State Gardens that there are more than 100 springs in the ravines altogether (p. 320). Water is impounded at the bend of the "V" and then flows in a canal toward the St. Johns River.
- The various steephead spring and the flowing well are in the bottom or and along the slopes of the ravines, and must be reached by foot.
- The springs are located in Ravine State Gardens, which also includes trails, a one-way driving loop, a Parcours fitness course, bicycling, picnic areas, formal gardens, an auditorium and amphitheater, and other meeting facilities. There are 59 acres in the ravines area that are accessible, and the state holds another 94 acres of river swamp along the St. Johns River ("Ravine State Gardens . . . More of the Real Florida," n.d.).
- The state gardens host floral festivals during the year as well as other community events.
- The ravines were "developed" in a park in 1933 as part of the Depression-era WPA or Works Progress Administration program. In addition to creating the loop road and trails, the project also planted form gardens of azaleas and exotic plants and created a small dam to impound water in the spring-fed creek (Florida State Parks, 1999).
- The water from the steephead ravines was once the main source of drinking water for the town of Palatka (Rosenau et al., 1977).
The ravines are an oasis of nature in an otherwise unattractively developed area (a golf course flanks the western side of the ravines, for example). The area is very appealing and worth exploring by car, bicycle, and foot. The site is uncrowded except during festivals, and the visitor can have solitude on the ravine trails. The exotic plants, especially the bamboo, detract from the natural beauty of the ravines and even can block access to and view of the springs. Some of the park staff were knowledgeable about the springs.
- Heilbronn Springs
- Wadesboro Spring
- Green Cove Spring
- Kingsley Lake
Camp Blanding Wildlife Management Area
Anastasia State Recreation Area
Guana River State Park
Gold Head Branch State Park
Ravine State Gardens
1600 Twigg Street
P.O. Box 1096
Palatka, FL 32178