This Florida County has Over 50 Natural Springs and has Been Called "The Springs Capital of the World."

L. Cane

When many people think about visiting Florida, they may think of the beaches in the panhandle or the attractions in central Florida. But for those willing to take a wider view, and visit an area of the state that is somewhat off the beaten path, you could find an oasis that boasts many freshwater springs hidden away in canopied wetlands. Because of this, the destination, Gilchrist County, sometimes goes by the moniker "the springs capital of the world." Below are some of the natural attributes one can find in Gilchrist county:

The Gilchrist Blueway Trail: This 55 miles of trail is meant to protect the natural resources in the county. Within it are over 50 springs, and some are unnamed. Most springs are 72 degrees and visitors can enjoy swimming, tubing, or paddling. In addition to water activities, it's sometimes easy to see wildlife while enjoying the water, as this area is home to over 300 species of vertebrates. If you enjoy history, you may want to know that according to Vist Gilchrist County, some places on the trail may be barely altered from the prehistoric era. One can paddle the entire path as a single journey or enjoy smaller segments. For those who want to remain on land, there are scenic trails to explore on foot or by bike.

Fishing and Exploring in the Santa Fe and Historic Suwannee Rivers: If you'd rather fish or explore rivers, you have access to the Santa Fe and Suwannee Rivers on the Trial, which houses bass, catfish, and sunfish. The Suwannee is even considered one of the last "wild" rivers in Florida and houses jumping sturgeon.

Popular Springs and State Parks in Gilchrist County:

Ginnie Springs Park is private, but encompasses several different springs and is quite popular with younger visitors because of its amenities like volleyball courts and WiFi-access. There are also concessions and a general store. Admission for adults is $20 in season and $15 out of season. Children's admission is $5.

Ruth B. Kirby Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park is typically less crowded than Ginnie Springs and is also part of the Florida State Park system. The park contains a collection of natural springs, including the large second-magnitude Gilchrist Blue, and smaller springs like Little Blue Spring, Naked Spring, Kiefer Spring, and Johnson Spring, all of which provide scenic, photographic opportunities. Paddling, snorkeling, and swimming are popular activities, but one can also take in the wildlife, which includes turtles and fish such as spotted sunfish, largemouth bass, bluegill, and channel catfish. Daily admission is $6 per vehicle.

Fanning Springs State Park: Fanning Springs is also a second-magnitude spring that offers 72-degree waters that allow for the viewing of underwater wildlife such as turtles, bass, mullet, flounder, and occasionally manatees during cooler weather. Although there is plenty of enjoyment within the Park's waters, there is lots to do on land as well. There's a boardwalk for hiking through the natural beauty that is reminiscent of old Florida, volleyball courts, and a playground. If one is lucky, one may see deer, squirrels, hawks, woodpeckers, and owls. Daily admission is $6 per vehicle.

Gilchrist county is located in north central Florida within proximity of Gainesville and Jacksonville.

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