Little River Springs

Little River Springs is a popular natural spring in north west Florida. It is located off of the Suwannee River in O’Brien, Florida, in an area known as “Spring Country”. 

Little River Springs is a popular destination for swimming, cave diving, picnicking and more.

Dangers in Little River Springs

Natural bodies of water always carry a level of risk and danger.

Tragically, people have been injured, and have even died while visiting Little River Springs.

Visitors should use extreme caution while visiting and swimming because there are a variety of dangers.

  • The water is shallow in some areas, and surfaces can be slippery.
  • The are dangerous currents in the water, including a surprisingly strong water flow from the spring vent, and strong and dangerous water in the Suwannee River.
  • Underwater overhead cave environments are always exceptionally dangerous. Entry should not ever be attempted except by properly trained and equipped professionals.
  • There may be snakes, alligators and other dangerous wildlife present.

The Water of Little River Spring

The natural spring water in Little River Springs rises from the Florida aquifer, deep beneath the ground.

The water from Little River Springs is known to flow through a deep underwater cave system beneath the water’s surface. It is known to extend for approximately 1,200 feet, or almost a quarter of a mile.

Little River Springs is a second magnitude spring, so the water flow from the spring vent is very strong.

After rising from the spring vent, spring water accumulates in a spring basin, or a pool.

The spring pool is approximately 108 feet from north to south, and approximately 93 feet from east to west.

The depth over the spring vent varies according to local water conditions, but is approximately 11 feet. Other areas in the spring basin are more shallow, and can be as shallow as 2 ft. deep in some locations.

The spring basin floor is a mixture of exposed limestone and sand. Spring water rises from a stretched crack in the limestone floor.

After filling the spring basin, the water flows into a beautiful spring run for approximately 150 feet, before it eventually flows into the Suwannee River.

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Water Quality

The spring water of Little River Springs is usually a beautiful, clear and emerald blue.

There is a stark contrast in the water color as the spring run ends and flows into the dark brown, tannic waters of the Suwannee River.

At times, high river levels on the Suwannee River can cause “brown-out” conditions in Little River Springs.

Brown-out conditions occur when the dark, tannic water of the Suwannee mixes and darks the spring water, reducing visibility.

Water Pollution and Environmental Damage

Data shows persistent elevated nutrient levels, primarily nitrate, in rivers and springs throughout the District.

Nitrate, in some instances, is the limiting nutrient that can cause imbalances in the ecosystem and impact the health of springs, rivers, and estuaries. Increased nutrient loads not only adversely impact the ecological health of rivers and springs but also the health of Gulf estuaries downstream.

-Suwannee River Water Management District

Like all springs and rivers in Florida, the water quality in Little River Springs is at-risk of contamination and pollution from a variety of sources, including:

  • Human and animal sewage
  • Excessive nutrient loading
  • Groundwater pollution
  • Other contaminants and pollutants

All springs in Florida are threatened by over-pumping of the Florida Aquifer, which can reduce or reverse spring flow, or “kill” springs entirely.

Many springs in Florida have stopped flowing, reversed flow or disappeared.

The shoreline at Little River Springs has also been damaged in the past by a variety of factors, especially erosion of the fragile river banks, and other damage to the spring run and basin.

The State of Florida, the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) and Suwannee County have all contributed resources to help stabilize and protect Little River Springs.

Water Temperature

The water of Little River Springs remains a constant 72 degrees F year-round.

There is often a noticeable temperature difference between the cold spring water and the Suwannee River.

The Suwannee River water is often warmer than the spring water in the summer, and colder during the winter.

Visiting Little River Springs County Park

Little River Springs is one of the most popular springs near the town of Branford, Florida.

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The spring can become crowded during hot summer months, especially on weekends and during summer holidays.

Because of its rural location, Little River Springs is usually not very crowded except for the previously-mentioned busy times.

If you want to experience the spring in a calm, peaceful way or even have the whole place to yourself, try to visit on a weekday or during the spring, fall or winter when local schools are in-session.

Little River Springs County Park

The area around Little River Springs has been developed into a well-maintained county park. It is administered by Suwannee County Parks and Recreation.

The park has a raised wooden boardwalk and two scenic overlooks, allowing visitors to see the spring from above. It is especially beautiful and fascinating to see the crystal clear water mix with the dark, tannic water of the Suwannee River.

A concrete sidewalk and steps allow visitors to enter the spring without causing damage to the fragile natural shoreline.

There are three picnic areas with charcoal barbeque grills. There is also a paved parking area and accessible sidewalks.

There are portable restrooms on-site, but the restrooms do not have running water. The public restroom cleanliness varies and depends on the courtesy of other visitors to the spring.

Walking Trails

There are two natural walking trails near Little River Springs.

The trails meander through approximately 125 acres of natural area. Visitors often see deer, many bird species, and other native animals.

Camping

There is not any option for camping at Little River Springs Park. Signs are posted saying that camping and campfires are prohibited.

There are other camping options nearby.

Little River Springs Park Hours

Little River Springs Park is free to enter.

There are park rules and hours in effect. The park’s opening hours are from:

  • 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. from April through October.
  • 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. from November through March.

Little River Springs Park is closed from sunrise to 11:00 a.m. every week on Tuesday for maintenance.

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The park at Little River Springs sometimes closes due to flooding on the nearby Suwannee River. 

Little River Park Rules

There is an on-site sign which lists rules for Little River Springs Park. These are a few of the rules, among others:

  • Alcohol is not allowed.
  • Camping is not allowed.
  • Dogs are not allowed, except for service dogs.

Cave Diving in Little River Springs

There is an extensive underwater cave network beneath Little River Springs. It is known to extend for approximately 1,200 feet, or almost a quarter of a mile.

Cave diving is exceptionally dangerous and should only ever be attempted by properly trained and equipped professionals.

Do not enter any overhead environment, like a cave, unless you are a properly trained and equipped professional!

There are other cave diving sites in the region, which are often combined into a single trip.

Other nearby springs and cave diving locations include:

Sources

Nearby Cities

  • Branford
  • Gainesville
  • High Springs
  • Lake City
  • Tallahassee

Region

  • Central Florida
  • Florida Panhandle
  • North Florida
  • Northwest Florida

Activities

  • Canoeing
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Paddle Boarding
  • Picnicking
  • SCUBA Diving
  • Snorkeling
  • Swimming

Camping

Nearby Camping

Related Spring Group

Suwannee River Springs

Contact Information

Phone: (386) 362-3004

Suwannee County Parks and Recreation

Location

Address: 24891 105th Ln, O’Brien, FL 32071

Directions

Little River Springs is located in a rural area.

The nearest towns are Live Oak, which is approximately 24 miles away. The small town of Branford is approximately 5 miles away.

Google DirectionsApproximate Distance
Tampa to Little River Springs177 Miles
Gainesville to Little River Springs51 Miles
Lake City to Little River Springs28 Miles
Tallahassee to Little River Springs106 Miles
Jacksonville to Little River Springs86 Miles
Orlando to Little River Springs158 Miles