Florida’s original spa town is an outdoor mecca on the Suwannee River for hikers, cyclists, and paddlers. Before 1900, White Springs had fourteen hotels catering to tourists who came by rail and steamboat to “take the waters” at the springs.
Opened in 1950, Stephen Foster Folk Culture State Park was envisioned as a memorial to composer Stephen Foster, who never visited the Suwannee River but nonetheless made it famous. Designated the first Florida Trail Gateway Community, White Springs is one of the rare places on the Florida Trail where the trail leads you right through town.
Trails and Parks in White Springs
- Big Shoals Trail - At Big Shoals State Park, the Big Shoals Trail leads you to scenic perches high atop the river bluffs when you can watch Florida's only Class III whitewater rapids
- Biking the Woodpecker Trail - The Woodpecker Trail at Big Shoals State Park provides a 7-mile wildlife-rich round trip ride, but watch out for those puddles! John plunges in anyway to get the story.
- Disappearing Creek at Camp Branch - On the Disappearing Creek Loop off the Florida Trail along the Suwannee River, watch Camp Branch burble through rapids and cascade into a giant sinkhole
- Falling Creek Falls - A boardwalk trail at Falling Creek Falls north of Lake City leads you to overlooks on a waterfall with a 10-12' drop in a picturesque setting
- Florida Trail, Bell Springs to Big Shoals - With Florida's only Class III whitewater and the beauty of a Florida waterfall along a stretch of trail that is rugged but extremely scenic, this 2.8 mile section of the Florida Trail is a real winner
- Florida Trail, CR25A to Stephen Foster - This roly-poly section of the Florida Trail is pretty rugged despite its short distance, since it involves a lot of scrambling in and out of ravines and eroded bluffs created when the Suwannee River seasonally overflows its banks.
- Florida Trail, Suwannee - 78.9 miles. For more than sixty miles, the Florida Trail follows the floodplain of the fabled Suwannee River, clinging to its bluffs and terraces, dropping down to sandy beaches, and scrambling past waterfalls and ravines. It’s a physical challenge and one of the most scenic sections of trail, with both Big Shoals - Florida’s fastest whitewater – and the Big Oak Trail at the confluence with the Withlacoochee River a delight.
- Long Branch Trail - At Big Shoals State Park, the 2.4 mile Long Branch Trail heads upriver to follow a mellow Suwannee River—broad and shaded by overhanging tupelo trees
- Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park - No Florida State Park is as celebrated as Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park. For more than a half-century, it's been home to the Florida Folk Festival, a Memorial Day Weekend treat with over a dozen bands playing on stages simultaneously throughout the expansive green space.
- Suwannee River Wilderness Trail - Along its 266-mile meandering route from the Okeefenokee Swamp to the Gulf of Mexico, the Suwannee River is home to countless springs, sandy beaches, and tributaries that drop into the river down steep slopes as waterfalls. The Suwannee River Wilderness Trail lets you explore it all.
- Mountain biking and the Florida Trail (3/3/2016) - It's Florida Biking Month! Which makes it a good time to talk about bikes and the Florida Trail, and how to ride your bike to, but not on, our statewide National Scenic Trail when it's in the woods.
- Biking the Woodpecker Trail (8/30/2015) - The Woodpecker Trail at Big Shoals State Park provides a 7-mile wildlife-rich round trip ride, but watch out for those puddles! John plunges in anyway to get the story.
- How to hike inn-to-inn on the Florida Trail (10/25/2012) - As part of a question sent to me by Rick, a reader in New England, he asked “we would be interested to find an area where we hike from inn to inn over a few days” as part of a vacation day hiking in Florida. As I’m in the midst of working on a new […]
- Rugged hikes in Florida (10/20/2011) - A discussion that came up on the forum recently – where are the most rugged hikes in Florida? – fits well with the cool weather we now have. The term “rugged” is subjective, of course, based on your own hiking expertise: someone who hikes regularly in the Rockies isn’t going to find our hilly hikes […]
- Au Naturale in White Springs (10/5/2011) - A new surprise along the Florida Trail in White Springs: a nudist resort. For years, the Suwannee Valley Campground has been one of several welcoming resupply-and-rest stops for long distance hikers along the Suwannee River, but that’s about to change. In May 2012, the new owners of the campground will be reopening it as a […]
- Fat Bellys (4/26/2009) - While I mourn the loss of the Suwannee River Diner in White Springs, I’m pleased to report that the Stormant family is still cooking up the same great country vittles we know and love down at Fat Belly’s, their restaurant on the south side of White Springs near the blinker to Big Shoals. Barbecue is […]
- Visiting Falling Creek Falls (3/30/2009) - Yes, Florida does have waterfalls! Every time I’m up near White Springs or Lake City, I make a detour to Falling Creek Falls, a little gem of a natural destination right near the I-10 and US 41 interchange. Head east on Falling Creek Road for a mile to find the park, which has two historic […]
- I Did I-Did-A-Hike (2/17/2009) - It’s been more than a week since my sweet soujourn along the Suwannee River, but how I savored a morning’s walk on the Florida Trail past geological wonders I’d never before seen from this perspective. The Florida Trail Association’s North Florida Trailblazers chapter, and Alton Snellgrove in particular, have been working hard on establishing the […]