Gainer Springs Group
Summary of Features
- Scale - 1st magnitude
- Scenery - Good to excellent
- How Pristine? - land cleared around springs
- Swimming - fair
- Protection - private
- Crowds - can be overrun on warm weekends
- Access - very good, canoe only
- Facilities - none
- Safety - good
- Scuba - no
- Cost - free
Off State Road 20 about seven miles west of where it intersects with U.S. 231 north of Panama City. Put canoe in on right where SR20 crosses Econfina Creek and paddle 1/2 mile downstream to Gainer run/channel on the right (westside).
The Gainer Springs run is literally a clear contrast to the darker Econfina Creek and cannot be missed on the right. At the mouth of its run, it is nearly as wide as Econfina Creek. It flows around a forested, manmade island of perhaps ½ acre in size. the whole spring pool and island area are about 300 feet long and 100-150 feet wide.
There are 5 primary areas of spring flow along the edges of the spring basin. Entering from the river to the north, the first spring lies inthe NE corner of the pool. It is a clear funnel-shaped vent about 7 feet deep that blows sand and snail shells in a small plume. The limestone opening is only a few inches wide. The second spring is just offshore from a small beach area and retaining wall in the north end of the pool. It is very similar in appearance to the first spring, except slightly smaller and with a less powerful flow. (Note Scott et al., observed this second spring as being larger than the first, with a strong boil and a vent 1.5 feet wide [2002, p. 27]--it did not appear this way on the authors' visits.
The third spring is about 20 feet to the left/west of the Spring #2 and consists of small flows from a recessed limestone bank or small grotto. Spring #4 is a series of flows from limestone cavities in an enchanting recessed grotto at the NW corner of the pool. Water flows up from exposed limestone in a luxuriantly vegetated grotto about 18 feet in diameter. Exiting SW around the island, there are other smaller flows and seeps (#5) from the high limestone bank into the run.
In the areas on land above most of these springs--and especially behind the third spring and adjacent to the manmade beach and picnic pavilion--are a series of crevices and fissures that lead down from the uplands to the flowpoints. The openings behind spring #3 are a spectacular--for Florida--line of openings in the limestone that march up the hill above the spring and are up to 25 feet deep, 50 feet long, and 10 feet across. Water can be seen flowing downhill toward the spring vents at the bottom of these openings. Smaller series of fissures and crevices lead down toward spring areas 1, 2, and 5. The fissures are as dramatic as any in Florida.
Note: Scott et al., (2002, p. 26-28) bundle these springs with the nearby Emerald and McCormick Springs and classify them all part of the Gainer Springs Group. This is in keeping with earlier classification by Roseneau et al., 1977, which did the same thing. Locals have given different names to the three areas, as does this web site.
- The springs may be accessed by boat only—signs posted on shore around Gainer warn that anyone who steps onto dry land will be prosecuted.
The large grotto is a gorgeous site, but ironically one that is immediately eclipsed by the even more beautiful Emerald Spring just around the bend. Having several beautiful springs in one’s back yard and others within spitting distance—life could be worse. The signs on the site are anything but welcoming, but one could enter the water and explore the springs as long as s/he kept off the land.
The fissures and crevices are extraordinary, but visitors may not make landfall to see them. The authors visited the site as part of a permitted field trip made by the Florida Springs Task Force in 2003.
- Walsingham Spring
- Unnamed Econfina Creek-bed Spring
- Glowing Spring, BlueSpring Group
- Williford Spring
- Sylvian Springs Group
- McCormick Springs Group
- Pitt Spring
- Williford Run Spring
- Ponce de Leon Springs
- Vortex Spring
- Cypress Spring
- Morrison Spring
Other Nearby Natural Features
- Pitt Spring Recreation Area
- St. Andrews State Recreation Area
- Falling Waters State Recreation Area