We are fascinated by Florida’s natural springs. Many of them produce the headwaters of rivers that supply the lowlands with nourish fresh uncompromised water. One of those springs is in the panhandle about 15 miles south of Tallahassee.
History of Wakulla Springs
As you enter the area known as the panhandle – Florida’s westerly protrusion – you enter Wakulla County, named for a river lumbering through the forest to the gulf. That river is the Wakulla River that has it’s headwaters at the largest spring in the world, Wakulla Springs. While the water flow is 300 million gallons a day, which is less than Silver Springs at 550 million gallons, the reason it is considered the largest is the underwater cave system that produces a good size lake.
In 1850 a visitor saw mastodon bones at the bottom of the lake which led to years of study by scientists who found more bones of other animals at a depth of 190 feet. More studies have continued for over a hundred years. Some of the results are in the Florida Museum of History at Tallahassee. Needless to say the area has been used by man and animals for thousands of years.
State of Florida Takes Over
The state of Florida opened a state park called Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park in 1966. The park has over 6000 acres for swimming, camping, hiking and other activities. But what makes the park unique is the lodge. Edward Ball built the lodge in 1935 and sold the area to Florida in the late 1960’s. The lobby at the lodge is massive and is adjacent to a large gift shop that still has Edward Ball’s custom built 70 foot granite bar.
If you have a weekend retreat on your mind, this is a place to get away from city life or beach life. The lake supports a large swimming area – but I warn you about the temperature of spring water! There are great trails around the river along with canoe rentals nearby. If you must stray from the park, you are 30 minutes from Tallahassee, 30 minutes from St. Marks on the Gulf and less than 90 minutes from Apalachicola, Florida, the former oyster capital of Florida.
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park is a must see for Florida road trip people. Even those from Georgia can easily make their way south.