Showcasing the topography of the lower Suwannee River, Manatee Springs State Park has trails leading around deep sinkholes, walks through ancient forests, and a spring run so clear you can see schools of fish racing down it to the river.
Fees: $4-6 per vehicle
Open: 8 AM until sunset daily
Leashed pets welcome except in vicinity of spring basin
West of Chiefland at the end of CR 320.
Look into the brilliant boil of Manatee Springs, and step back into the past. Although the popular state park that surrounds it has campgrounds, concessions, and trails, the spring and the spring run are timeless, as crystalline as when William Bartram first paddled across its surface in 1774. “The ebullition is astonishing, and continual,” Bartram wrote, “…a lucid sea green color…throwing up small particles or pieces of white shells, which subside with the waters…”
The aquamarine hue of the spring is from microscopic limestone particles suspended in the water, much like the tint of a glacial lake from “rock flour.”
A deeply shaded campground, trail system, and picnic areas make this a welcome retreat, especially in spring and fall. Do use insect repellent, however: forests along the Suwannee tend to have more than their fair share of ticks.
Explore the park
- Nature Coast Trail - Connecting three rural counties, the Nature Coast Trail offers several different ways to ride between towns along 31.5 miles of paved bike path
- Springs of the Lower Suwannee - Visits to four springs along the lower Suwannee River enlightens us as to the changes occurring in Florida's springs, even in rural areas.
- Three Days of Lower Suwannee Springs - Not so busy thanks to their locations on the lower Suwannee River, this series of four major springs provide another 3-day weekend getaway option for active outdoor recreation in Florida