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

Steinhatchee Rise

Taylor County

Summary of Features

  • Scale - 1st magnitude
  • Scenery - good-very good
  • How Pristine? - house next to rise, roads and trails nearby
  • Swimming - poor
  • Protection - good
  • Crowds - small
  • Access - very good, land and canoe
  • Facilities - none
  • Safety - unknown
  • Scuba - unknown
  • Cost - free


The site can be reached by land from two locations:

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address: 


1.  From the intersection of U.S. 19/98/27A and State Road 51, drive south on U.S. 19/98/27A a short distance over the bridge for the Steinhatchee River.  Turn off road into grass after about 200 yards beyond the bridge at a small opening in the trees onto a dirt road that leads directly to the backwater behind the river rise and take footpath to rise.  Look for the Water Management District sign for river access #5.

2.  From the intersection of U.S. 19/98/27A and State Road 51, drive south on U.S. 19/98/27A for a half-mile and turn right (west) at sign for Steinhatchee Falls.  Follow signs to boat launch about 1 mile and canoe (or walk along the bank) upriver ¼ mile to river rise across from a house.

Spring Description

The river rises in an area of jumbled land, peninsulas, exposed limestone, and thick woods and shrubs.  Water flows up in a riverbed just below a fork in the river, with a house on the west side.  A large tree had fallen into the water almost atop the river rise.  At the point of the rise, the river is about 80 feet across but narrows downriver.  Water backed up behind the river rise into the two forks suggests (incorrectly) that the rise is further back.  On the eastern fork, there is a canopied area of pools, trees, humped land, and exposed limestone.  Banks along the river near the rise are steep and up to 15 feet high.  The water is dark, and no boil was visible on date of visit (Feb. 2001).  The depth could not be determined.  The river flows another 12-15 miles to the Gulf of Mexico.


Personal Impressions

The house right at the river rise mars the site and makes visitors feel like trespassers.  The terrain in the area is unusual in both its topography and its flora.  It is evident that the river is flowing beneath the land above the river rise, and that this land also floods in times of high water.


Before emerging at this spot, the Steinhatchee River flows underground for a distance of three miles.

Before emerging at this spot, the Steinhatchee River flows underground for a distance of three miles.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features

An Essay on Steinhatchee Falls

Now, we might as well admit up front that Florida does not have a great deal to contribute to the world’s collection of waterfalls.  The highest waterfall in the state is a fairly impressive sounding 67 feet, for a waterfall in the panhandle near Chipley in what is now called Falling Waters State Recreation Area.  And while it is a very interesting geological phenomenon, the water actually falls into a deep sinkhole.  There are some other falls, mostly in north Florida, but most usually only tumble a foot or two.  A couple of waterfalls on or near the Suwannee are larger—up to six feet.

Steinhatchee Falls has an exotic ring to it, and so I checked it out one day one my way from Tallahassee to Melbourne.  The site is only about five minutes off the main highway (U.S. 19/98) between Perry and Chiefland.  There is not a whole lot to see along this road except for forest and farmland, and my anticipation grew as I neared the turn-off where the highway intersects with State Road 51 at the flashing light and the “town” of Tennile.  Turning south on SR 51, I drove about a mile and then turned left at the sign for Steinhatchee Falls.  The road turns to dirt, and another sign at a t-junction leads to the right and another mile or so the falls.

The Steinhatchee River is about 50 feet across at this point, which is about a mile below where the river rises to the surfaces after flowing underground for several miles.  The water is brown and not very clear.  Getting out of the car in the little parking area, I heard the falling water before I saw it.  Oh, let’s stop pretending, there is no a real waterfall at all.  There is one little shelf that goes across most of the river, and the water drops a foot before resuming its lazy pace to the Gulf of Mexico.  In one corner, the fall is a little wider, and a canoe could pass through with ease through what might optimistically be called a class one shoal.

Did I mention the nice park at Steinhatchee Falls?  There are a couple of picnic tables and grills, and a clean portable restroom at the site.  I was the only there on a weekday morning, but it would be a nice little place to have a picnic on a weekend and let the sound of the little tumble lull you to sleep.