A swimming hole as a work of natural art, the deep gash in the earth that is Ichetucknee Spring glows as a ribbon of blue, cradled in a limestone bowl within a leafy glen.
Four miles of trails ramble through the forests, leading past historic phosphate mines, weird rock formations, and fields of wildflowers that bloom in spring.
Location: Fort White
Address: 12087 SW US 27, Fort White (South Entrance)
Fees: $4-6 per vehicle.
Restrooms: Flush toilets
Land Manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM until sunset daily. Leashed pets welcome on the trails, but not in the spring areas.
Additional fee for tubing. The park does not rent tubes. Obtain one from an outfitter outside the park before you arrive if you are tubing.
The park is located north of Fort White, west of High Springs, south of Live Oak, and east of Branford.
About the Park
A National Natural Landmark, the Ichetucknee headspring is one of numerous springs that add to the flow of the Ichetucknee River, one of Florida’s top tubing runs.
Cool water, deep shade: it’s the perfect combination for a summer’s day. Grab a tube from a local shop (you’ll see them lining the road) or bring your own.
The park has two entrances: North and South. North is where you’ll find the springs, the hiking trails, and the beginning of a 2.5 to 3 hour tubing or paddling run along the river, depending on the season.
Tubing is only permitted from the beginning of the river between the weekend before Memorial Day through Labor Day.
The South entrance is all about tubing. During the summer tubing season, the park runs trams up to the Midpoint put-in, from which it’s a 45-minute float through the forest back to where you started.
Show up on a weekday, as weekends – especially Saturdays – can be busy!
Certified cave divers can slip into Blue Hole, a spring flowing into the run, between October and March. It’s located down a half-mile boardwalk and nature trail, so be prepared to haul your gear or bring a cart.
Gentle hiking trails head down both sides of the spring run. The mile-long round-trip on the Blue Hole Spring Trail ends at Blue Hole with an overlook and landing for divers.
On the opposite side of the run, near the swimming area for the head spring, a nature trail starts paralleling the spring run downstream. This meets the Trestle Point Trail after a quarter mile.
Follow that trail out to the spring run to see where a railroad trestle once crossed the river. At the next trail junction, 0.7 mile from the head spring, you can add to the hike by following the Pine Ridge Loop out into the pine flatwoods.
Hiking both loops and the round trip to them makes for 2.4 miles of nicely shaded trails on the west side of the run.
While there is no camping at this park, there are several nearby campgrounds:
O’Leno State Park
Ichetucknee Family Canoe & Cabins
Ichetucknee Springs Campground
River Run Campground
Ichetucknee Family Canoe & Cabins also offers tube rentals. They’re located right near the North entrance to the park.
Explore the park
In Florida, water is an ever-present part of our lives. A visit to the Rainbow River yesterday brought back memories of the past and concerns for the future of Florida’s waters.
Tubing the Ichetucknee River means letting go and going with the flow, letting the waters carry you past beautiful springs and through ever-changing habitats. Here’s how.