Posted by: Barbara Evanhoe | May 11, 2011

Manatee Spring, Florida

Yesterday, Keith and I happened to have the day off, and as we were headed into Chiefland for supplies ~ about a 30 minute drive from Cedar Key ~ we decided to include a visit to Manatee Spring State Park in our itinerary, as it’s on the way.

The entrance fee for day use was an affordable $6, so we paid the Ranger and were on our way.

The afternoon temperature was almost 90 degrees when we arrived, but the park is situated in a dense forest, so it was relatively cool on our short walk from the day parking lot to the spring, which is beautiful!

Manatee Spring Headwaters

Park literature claims that 100 million gallons of water flow from the spring headwaters each day, at a constant year-round temperature of 72 degrees.

The water forms a beautiful, turquoise blue pool as it emerges from the earth, and it is a popular swimming hole for locals and tourists too.

We were among just a few visitors yesterday, as the busy season for the park is November through March, when West Indian Manatees swim up the cooler waters of the Suwannee River to the relatively warm waters of the spring, which derives its name from this phenomenon.

There have been as many as 450 manatees sighted in a month at the spring during the winter season, but we only saw one on our visit….

Keith and His Manatee

The spring empties into a scenic stream that runs through the forest, and empties into the Suwannee River.

Stream from Manatee Spring to the Suwannee

There was a warning sign posted near the stream, that cottonmouth snakes could be found in the area.

One couple nearby were reading the sign and happened to look down into the water as one of the snakes slithered by ~ their exclamations of surprise alerted us to the snake’s presence, and we joined them in watching it swim in the opposite direction from the folks happily splashing in the water!

We had come prepared to do some swimming, but decided that we would wait for warmer weather, as the 72 degree water still felt a bit cold as we dipped our feet into the spring.

There are several sets of stairs and railings that go right down into the spring, so it is easy for people of all ages to enjoy the clear turquoise blue waters.

There is a well-maintained raised wooden walkway that follows the path of the stream through the woods and swampy areas to the Suwannee.

We walked the path and emerged on a large covered deck and boat dock with a beautiful view of the Suwannee River, which is much larger here than in White Springs where we spent the winter.

It’s a perfect spot to watch for manatees, but yesterday we were entertained by “small” 20 lb. sturgeon which were leaping straight out of the water into the air, and causing enormous splashes as they re-entered the water!

I am sorry I can’t offer a photo of the dock or fish leaping. My camera is on its last leg, and it must have figured it took enough pictures for one day when we were at the spring.

We spent an enjoyable hour at Manatee Spring, and will definitely go back in the winter when the manatees are there so Keith can fulfill a quest to see these playful behemoths in action.

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  1. […] mentioned in a previous blog on Manatee Spring, summer is not prime time for manatee sightings, but Homosassa just happens to be a sanctuary for […]


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