Thursday, November 17, 2011

Backroads wandering........Florida springs

North Florida is home to the largest collection of natural springs in the world with approx. 300 known springs--27 of which are first magnitude (over 64 million gallons daily flow).
Manatee Springs, near Chiefland, is a first magnitude spring and has a nice elevated boardwalk that takes you from the springs pool out to the Suwanee River, where you can see the natural terrain of cypress forests and overlook the crystal clear water along the way.
At the end of the boardwalk, which ends with an observation deck, there were hundreds of ducks congregating in a swarming mass, and as I walked further out I was totally amazed to discover there was a huge pod of manatees just a few yards off the platform!

I have rarely seen even one manatee in the wild, and it was totally thrilling to see so many of them up close. (They are not so easy to photograph though!)
They start to come up into the rivers and springs in Nov. to get to the warm water--the springs are usually about 72 degrees year-round.

On the trail back to the main springs pool, I passed this sign......

......and wondered if the spring divers are ever menaced by alligators?
There were a bunch of divers in the spring pool that day (you can see them underwater if you enlarge the pics) and the water was such an amazing color of blue--photographs just don't pick up the clarity and color of the water.

Peacock Springs (below), near Luraville, is an entirely different type of spring area. The small clear pool leads to one of the largest underwater cave systems in the US, with over 28,000 feet of passageways, and is an internationally renowned cave diving destination (you must have
cave diving certification). But this is all you see above ground!

Another spring along the Suwanee River is Madison Blue, and there were divers there as well. It's situated just yards from the river with a pretty stream connecting the two.
While walking the trails I remember thinking how I hoped all the snakes were underground because I would never see them in all the leaves.......and as I left the park and pulled onto Highway 6 toward Madison, there was a massive diamondback rattlesnake (that had apparently just eaten some critter judging by it's huge belly) stretched out across both lanes of the road. I couldn't get a pic of it since a truck was quickly approaching behind me. I'm really glad I didn't come across that on the trail, but I hope it made it across the road!

Next.....Cedar Key - "1950's Key West"?


**Anne** said...

Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos of an area I had not heard about. (I'm from downunder.) The water is such a beautiful colour, your walk must have been wonderful.
I dislike snakes and wouldn't want to come across one either. Although perhaps since he/she had a full belly, you wouldn't be bothered by it.
Anne xx

A Wild Thing said...

YER KILLIN' ME...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Anonymous said...


I live in FL, too.
I was browsing around the web when I found your page and I am enjoying it.
You've reminded me that I need to get out and about in FL more often and enjoy the natural beauty.
I am looking forward to your Cedar Key report and pictures.