Springs Fever: A Field & Recreation Guide to 500 Florida Springs.
3rd Edition by Joe Follman and Richard Buchanan

St. Marks Spring/River Rise

Leon County

Summary of Features

  • Scale - 1st magnitude 
  • Scenery - fine 
  • How Pristine? - dock and cleared land near spring 
  • Swimming - very good, excellent snorkeling 
  • Protection - unknown 
  • Crowds - very small 
  • Access - only by boat; very strenuous 
  • Facilities - none 
  • Safety - good 
  • Scuba - yes 
  • Cost - free


Google Maps link at www.nwfwater.com/Water-Resources/Springs/Featured-Springs/St-Marks-Rise. From downtown Tallahassee, go south on Monroe Street, which becomes State Road 363 or Woodville Highway. Turn left on State Road 267. After four miles, turn left on U.S. 98 and proceed to point where the highway crosses the St. Marks River. A boat launch is on the NE side of the bridge. Put in boat and go 6+ miles upriver to the St. Marks Spring/river rise.

Spring Description

The spring is the primary river rise of the St. Marks River and also contains substantial flow from several nearby springs and upriver drainage. Water flows from beneath a large limestone shelf from a depth reported to be about 85 feet (Rosenau et al., 1977, p. 241-2). The spring pool is over 100 feet in diameter, and water flows from the spring around an island. Water in the pool was clear to about 18 feet on date of visit (May 2001) and blue-green in color. No boil was visible, and the spring looked like a bottomless pit with sunlight shafting into it.

Except for a partially cleared area above the spring, land around the spring is dense hardwood and floodplain forest. There is an old dock at the spring, but no other structures were visible. Along the edges of the basin and downstream of the spring, the St. Marks River is thick with eel grass, hydrilla, elodea, and other water plants. The area is abundant with fish, birds, and other wildlife. The spring flow—the fifth greatest on average of any Florida spring system, likely contains the water from the upper part of the St. Marks River as well as flow from both Horn and Natural Bridge Springs. It may also contain water from Rhodes and some of the other unnamed springs/sinks in the Natural Bridge area.


Local Springiana

As a single spring/flowpoint, St. Marks is one of the largest springs in Florida.

Personal Impressions

The authors had wanted to get to this spring for many years, but were not able to obtain permission from landowners who live near the spring basin until May 2001. The river's flow is fairly strong, so only canoeists with excellent strength and stamina can make the upriver trip from the public boat ramp at Newport.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features