Freshwater Fishing:

Santa Fe River - Try bank fishing at Ira Bea Oasis Road off CR 138 and in Ginnie Springs. Both Suwannee bass and largemouth bass offer excellent fishing opportunities. A large population of redbreast sunfish provides the best fishing the river has to offer. Try fishing for this species near fallen trees or stumps.

Suwannee River - Largemouth and Suwannee bass are abundant and both species can be caught along the shoreline near fallen tress or stumps. Redbreast sunfish and spotted sunfish are the most abundant game fish in the river and are easily caught near shoreline brush and stumps. The peak season is May through September.


Wildlife Watching:

Fanning Springs State Park - Animals typically observed in the mixed forest community include white-tailed deer, gray squirrel, red-shouldered hawk, pileated woodpecker, barred owl and a variety of snakes. The less densely wooded festival area provides open spaces for several gopher tortoises. Manatees may enter the spring run during cooler weather.

Hart Springs County Park - Many migratory and local bird species abound, such as the great blue heron, snowy egret, white ibis, king fisher and even a flock of wild turkeys. The red-shoulder hawks use this park each spring to nest and raise its young. Sightings of the Florida panther, white-tailed deer, bobcat and manatees have been documented.

Santa Fe River / Suwannee River / Springs - It's easy to spot several varieties of turtles in these waters. Put on a mask and snorkel and watch schools of gar, bream, mullet and bass move through the clear spring water, and beavers work in this area. Typical bird species found in these habitats include Mississippi and swallow-tailed kites, broad-winged hawks, Acadian flycatchers, summer tanagers, and prothonotary and hooded warblers. Owls, pileated woodpeckers and red-shouldered hawks may be seen year-round. Many species of reptiles and amphibians are present also.

Otter Springs - Otter Springs is teeming with wildlife activity! Early in the morning, otters, raccoons and birds can be spotted near the spring and along the spring run. While strolling through the park, deer, gopher tortoises and turkeys are commonly seen along the trails and the park drive. Interested in birding? Many great species including the Swallow-tailed Kites and Red-Shouldered Hawks soar in the expansive sky over the park. Other animals that have been seen at Otter Springs include Manatee, Gray Squirrels, bobcats, a variety of fish and snakes, alligators, owls and Pileated Woodpeckers, just to name a few. Only in a natural Florida setting, such as Otter Springs, do you have the opportunity to experience such wonders. See www.ottersprings.com


Paddling:

Santa Fe River Canoe Trail - This trail passes through hardwood hammocks and river swamps and past numerous springs. It's perfect for beginners, because the river has slow current and gentle curves. The 26-mile long trail begins just below River Rise Preserve and ends about three miles upstream of the confluence of the Santa Fe and Suwannee rivers. The Santa Fe forms the entire northern boundary of Gilchrist County.

Suwannee River - The Suwannee River Wilderness Trail is a canoe and kayak trail managed by the Florida State Park Service that runs for 207 miles of this beautiful and primitive river with many stopover points, some developed and some primitive. The Lower Suwannee portion of the trail runs from Branford, just outside of Gilchrist County to the north, to the mouth of the river at the Town of Suwannee on the Gulf of Mexico. The entire western boundary of Gilchrist County is the Suwannee River and its associated trail. Because of the many boat ramps and canoe launches along the river, you don't have to follow the entire length of the trail. Paddlers can set their own pace and vary the length of their journey to their heart's content.

Otter Springs -Visit Otter Springs and paddle approximately the one mile of beautiful and scenic spring run leading to the historic Suwannee River. Round trip to the river takes roughly an hour; it's perfect for the experienced and inexperienced paddlers alike! For the ambitious, when you reach the Suwannee River, head north and experience the expansive Suwannee River, or put in a canoe or kayak at Hart Springs and journey down to Otter Springs for a great day trip. The paddle is a great opportunity to capture amazing photos!


Hiking:

Fanning Springs State Park - This mile-long nature trail takes hikers through an upland mixed forest and floodplain swamp. Along the trail are several large sinkholes.

Hart Springs - Visitors can enjoy a scenic stroll, on the half-mile boardwalk, that takes them down the spring run and out along the famous Suwannee River. Benches are provided for relaxing and observation stations are placed throughout the trail so visitors can enjoy scenic views of the flora and fauna living in the cypress hammock.

Otter Springs - Visit Otter Springs and paddle approximately the one mile of beautiful and scenic spring run leading to the historic Suwannee River. Round trip to the river takes roughly an hour; it's perfect for the experienced and inexperienced paddlers alike! For the ambitious, when you reach the Suwannee River, head north and experience the expansive Suwannee River, or put in a canoe or kayak at Hart Springs and journey down to Otter Springs for a great day trip. The paddle is a great opportunity to capture amazing photos!


Bicycling:

Nature Coast State Trail - This 32 mile paved "green zone" links diverse wildlife watching areas, a lovely natural swimming spring, and the wild and historic Suwannee River from trailheads inside the rural North Florida communities of Cross City, Old Town, Fanning Springs, Trenton and Chiefland. Trail users may want to start off in Trenton at the Historic Train Depot and follow the trail southwest to Fanning Springs, where they can enjoy a picnic or swim at the state park. 

 


Horseback Riding:

Nature Coast State Trail - Horses are welcome to use the dirt portion of the 100-foot wide right-of-way but are not allowed on the paved section of the trail. 

 

 

 


Diving / Snorkeling:

Blue Springs - Diving is not permitted at this cluster known as Blue Springs, but a mask and snorkel are all that's required for good look at the fish and swaying plant life that inhabit the 20-foot deep pool.

Fanning Springs - Snorkelers and swimmers enjoy the 20-foot deep spring basin, which is fed by two springs: Big Fanning and Little Fanning.

Ginnie Springs - The springs are very popular with families who come to swim, snorkel or tube, as well as with serious divers who choose to venture into the extensive underwater cave system. The white sandy bottom is about 18 feet below a limestone shelf.

Hart Springs - Though diving is not permitted, make a big splash and cool off in the year round 72-degree water. Enjoy snorkeling the crystal clear underwater environment. See more at www.hartsprings.com.

Rock Bluff Springs - These springs are one of Gilchrist County's most beautiful hidden treasures. Although it is privately owned and accessible only by boat, it is very much worth a visit. The springs are located on the Suwannee River, just upstream of the CR 340 boat launch. To enjoy the swimming and snorkeling of this area, anchor boats in the shallows and stay in the water (the shoreline is private).

Otter Springs - Diving is not yet available, contact the park for updates. Snorkeling and swimming are readily available in the springs where you can check out the underwater environment and take a peak down into the "crack" of the springs. Also available year round, Otter Springs has a heated pool.


Hunting:

The Gilchrist Club - Offers membership hunting to the avid sportsman. Located on 23,000 acres, off SR47, you can find in this place several types of game, such as deer, hogs, turkey and quail. The club is open year-round for its members convenience.
For hunting regulations, you can contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at www.floridaconservation.org or the Suwannee River Water Management District at 9225 CR49, Live Oak, FL 32060, phone number: 386-362-1001. Or you can call The Gilchrist Club directly at (352) 226-0580.


Camping/RV:

Blue Springs Campground - This all-natural camping area along the Santa Fe River allows visitors to interact with wild life and to enjoy shaded sites under majestic oak trees throughout the park. It offers primitive and full hookups. Bring your tent or your RV and relax around our beautiful springs and bathhouse. (Sorry, no pets allowed).
For information, please call (386) 454-1369 or visit www.bluespringspark.com

Ellie Ray's Resort & Lounge - Situated on the banks of the beautiful Santa Fe River, it's a popular 99-site RV park and a fun place for the whole family. Located just a short distance from it, is the Itchetucknee Springs Park, and the Santa Fe flows into the Suwannee just a few miles away. Please, call (386)935-9518 or visit www.ellieraysriverlanding.com

Ginnie Springs Outdoors, LLC. - This river-front park boasts 200+ acres of wilderness campsites, many of them situated along the river bank. In addition to primitive sites, some are available with electric, water and RV-hookups, along with family and full group locations. Water activities abound, and the park offers tiled bath houses with warm showers, a country store with camping supplies, snacks, drinks, ice and more, Laundromat and dump station. Please, call (386) 454-7188 or visit us on the web at www.ginniespringsoutdoors.com

Hart Springs - This campground is an enjoyable experience, set under a large canopy of sprawling oaks. Throughout the area there are primitive sites as well as sites offering water and/or electric hookups, grills and tables. This area also provides a dump station for the camper's convenience. Located in the campground are restrooms with hot and cold showers. For your ease of mind there is a staff person who resides on the premises of Hart Springs. Contact us at (352) 463-3444.

Otter Springs - Looking to sneak away for the weekend, or maybe a week or a month? Year round, we offer RV and tent sites with electric, water and sewer hook-ups, primitive tent and group camping areas, as well as fully-equipped cabins. Bring friends and family along for a fun camping experience; snow birds are welcome! For availability or to make reservations, contact the park at (352) 463-0800. To check out the park in more detail, go to our Facebook page.

Gilchrist County Chamber of Commerce • 220 S. Main St. • Trenton, FL 32693
352-463-3467 • FAX 352-463-3469 • Email kcorbin@gilchristcounty.com