Encompassing 161 acres of floodplain and uplands surrounding its namesake spring, Morrison Springs is a county park for aquatic recreation.
It is one of the most beautiful easily accessed springs in Northwest Florida, with its spring pool surrounding by a rim of old growth cypress.
Popular with divers for its crystalline waters and cave depths reaching 300 feet underground, it’s also a lovely place for a swim.
Part of the vast Choctawhatchee River basin, its waters flow through floodplain forests to the Choctawhatchee River.
Resources for exploring the area around Morrison Springs
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Location: Ponce de Leon
Length: 0.5 mile round-trip
Trailhead: 30.657262, -85.906905
Address: 874 Morrison Springs Rd, Ponce de Leon
Restroom: At the swimming area
Land manager: Walton County
Open sunrise to sunset.
From Interstate 10 exit 96 for Ponce de Leon, west of Chipley and east of DeFuniak Springs, drive south on SR 81 for 3.6 miles. Turn left onto CR 181 and continue 1.6 miles to Morrison Springs Rd. Turn right and follow the road 0.8 mile to the parking area for the spring.
About the Spring
The spring pool at Morrison Springs is au natural, gushing forth more than 48 million gallons of water every day.
But Morrison Springs has had ongoing battles with water purity, despite its rural location.
Given the beauty of these springs, and the boardwalks and other improvements that Walton County made to the park, it is such a beauty spot that it’s worth a stop to see, no matter whether you can swim or dive that day.
Stand in awe under the ancient cypress and stare into the clear depths, knowing that all of Florida’s springs are similarly at risk as our population crowds into aquifer recharge areas.
This region is still rural, so the sporadic contamination is a mystery. According to the Florida Springs Initiative, “A chronic bacteria issue like this usually suggests that there is a persistent source of bacteria nearby.”
In 2010, they ranked this as one of Florida’s cleanest springs, but something changed, and not for the better. If you plan to swim, snorkel, or dive here, check their website or call ahead to find out if any health advisories are in affect.
A platform at the very end of the boardwalk provides a staging spot for diving and snorkeling. Cave divers must be certified in order to dive this deep spring.
Swimmers have a beach along the crystalline shallows of the spring, which they can use to ease into the cool water and swim out to the floating platform over the depths.
The paved path and broad boardwalk makes this an accessible destination, although assistance would be required to get into the water if you plan to swim.
There is no marked hiking trail at Morrison Springs, but a ramble down from the parking area to the boardwalks is worthwhile, and a half-mile round-trip to walk.
Follow the paved sidewalk from the parking area to where the boardwalk starts from the left of the day use area and picnic grounds.
The boardwalk has interpretive signage set into the railings with descriptions of the surrounding trees in the spring basin on plaques in front of the trees.
Where the boardwalk splits, the right branch provides both a ramp and a staircase down to the swimming beach along the edge of the spring basin.
The left branch burrows deeper into the old growth cypress that line the edge of the spring. Some are short but have broad bases. Others have incredible height and tall cypress knees.
The boardwalk lets you peer out between them to the aquamarine waters of the spring run.
After a quarter mile the boardwalk ends at an observation deck overlooking the spring and spring run.
For those getting into the water, a catwalk leads down to a floating platform over the spring, with ladders to lower yourself into the water.
Morrison Springs is part of the paddling trail developed by DEP for the Choctawhatchee River basin. On that trail, paddlers have places to camp overnight on longer runs, or to take out at various locations for shorter runs.
Past the parking area, follow a narrow unpaved road to a boat ramp in the floodplain. From here, you can put in kayaks and canoes to explore the spring and the spring run, or paddle down to the Choctawhatchee River.
Paddleboards are not recommended unless swimming is permitted at the time of your visit.
See our photos of Morrison Springs
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
In the middle of the Florida Panhandle, Ponce de Leon Springs is along the upper end of a belt of shimmering springs that feed the Choctawhatchee River basin
Pouring out 28 million gallons of water a day, the crystalline depths of Vortex Spring in Ponce De Leon have intrigued divers for more than forty years. But it’s not just about diving: the privately-owned spring is a summer destination for family fun in the water.
With a dozen launch points and more than 15 springs along its 16 mile length, Holmes Creek, a tributary of the Choctawhatchee River, is a must-do paddling trip along a remote waterway.