I stood atop a ridge, overlooking a majestic vista beneath my feet. Reflecting a deep blue from the sky above, the water of the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers came together in a giant “V”, currents coursing together for the remainder of the journey to the Gulf of Mexico.
The park showcased the riparian landscape from multiple views, from a wooden outlook to a winding trail bordering the Suwannee River. These waterways were once used as critical thoroughfares for steamships, pieces of which are on display within the park. Ironically, as I gazed down at the river, a train whistled by on a bridge just outside the park’s border. It was the train that displaced the steam ships, which were then partially displaced once more by the car I took to reach the park.
From the overlook, I made my way past the campground, the cabins available for rent and the boat ramp to continue walking on the Suwannee River Trail. The water levels were low, and the banks of the Suwannee were sandy and quite visible beneath the clear water of the river. The colder temperatures had brought yellow-orange color to the canopy, while sabal palms remained bright green below. The slopes below the trail were dotted with cypress knees and other rocks, creating a beautiful tangle all the way down to the shoreline.
Down at the edge of the river bubbled “Little Gem Spring,” a second-order magnitude spring that pushes fresh, cool water up from the aquifer to the surface. Surrounded by stones and more cypress knees, the spring water flowed swiftly into the tea-colored, tannin-rich current of the Suwannee River. Springs like this are common on the Suwannee, but Little Gem Spring is unique in how much power bubbles up within such a small space; it certainly does look like a gem from above!
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About Erika: Erika Z. is a writer, birder and photographer living and working along the Emerald Coast of Florida. Her love of the outdoors and sense of adventure leads her to explore Florida’s state parks, state trails and historic sites in her free time