Staring over the lip of this impressive spring, it feels like you’re looking into a bottomless pit.
Steep and broad, it drops 42 feet, which is why Suwannee County provides a high launch platform for jumping into the spring.
Wrapped in ribbons of turquoise and blue, it’s a wild place, the natural shoreline accented only with a few staircases to help you get to the water’s edge.
Royal Springs is a beauty, a rare natural swimming hole off the beaten path along the Suwannee River.
Resources for exploring the area
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Address: 20051 157th Lane, O’Brien
Hike: 0.5 mile double round-trip (horseshoe)
Land Manager: Suwannee County Parks
The park opens at sunrise daily except on Wednesdays, when it opens at 11am.
Pets are not permitted. Please look after children, as there are steep dropoffs.
Walkways are accessible to observation points. Access to the spring basin is not accessible due to its rocky edges and natural setting.
From the intersection of US 27 and US 129 in Branford, follow US 129 north for 5.5 miles. Turn west on CR 349. Follow this rural road for 8.9 miles to the turnoff onto 198th Terrace, where there is a sign. Continue 0.7 mile to the turn onto unpaved 157th Lane, which leads right into the park.
About the Park
The springs are the main feature of Hugh Byron Hollingsworth Sr. County Park in O’Brien, just north of Branford in Suwannee County.
Most visitors are here to dive or jump into the spring and swim. Swimmers can access water level by taking either of the staircases on the east side of the spring.
The lip of the spring is rocky. The diving platform is there for a reason, as it launches you out over the deepest water. Diving in from other locations is not safe.
Although there is no camping on site, the park is a stop for paddlers following the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail so they can take a break on shore.
Boaters can use the ramp to access the river. In addition to the boat ramp, the park includes picnic grounds between the parking area and the spring.
A horseshoe-shaped trail wraps around the spring, providing access to the Suwannee River on either side.
Walking down the sidewalk to the right of the dive platform, it leads you behind a screen of forest on the bluff.
The trail continues to an observation deck with a prime view down into the spring and across to the platform.
After the developed path ends, you’re free to roam. A well-beaten but unmarked trail traces the outflow of the springs beneath ancient cypress trees.
It climbs up along a hilly slope. Along the way, you circle a small spring in a tight spot.
The beaten path leads you along the steep slope above the spring run as it flows over rapids to meet the Suwannee River.
Return back along the same beaten path to the developed walkway up and around the spring basin.
Going the opposite way from the parking area, the sidewalk provides an accessible route for visitors to get to two entry points to the spring.
The first provides spring-level access to jump into the depths from a rocky ledge. The second goes to a shallow shelf for a more gentle dip in the water.
The paved path ends at an observation deck overlooking the Suwannee River next to a boat ramp.
While there is no camping on the grounds of Royal Springs, there are several private campgrounds not far away:
Cave Dive Camp
Ichetucknee Family Canoe & Cabins
Ichetucknee Springs Campground
River Run Campground
As well as O’Leno State Park, about a half hour away.
Learn more about springs along the Suwannee River
See our photos of Royal Springs
More places nearby to enjoy a splashing good time.
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