Merritt's Mill Pond - Paddling on an Unexpected Treat in Florida's Panhandle
Merritt's Mill Pond near Marianna, Florida, a crystal clear spring-fed pond surrounded by cypress forest, is a beautiful setting and a pleasant surprise on our trip to paddle the nearby Chipola River. Fed by Jackson County’s Blue Springs, the 4-mile, 202 acre pond was created by a dam built in the 1800's for an old grist mill. With six caves, this is a popular destination for cave divers. (Detailed map and photos below.)
This is a photographer's dream with cypress forest, springs and caves, and the crystal clear water flowing over eel grass beds where a variety of fish can be seen. Known nationwide for fishing, Merritt’s Mill Pond has produced state and world record redear sunfish; other fish include largemouth bass, bluegill, spotted sunfish and carp. While there are motor boats on the pond, the many underwater stumps limit the speed and number. Wildlife includes alligators, turtles, snakes, and apple snail, and birds such as hawks, herons, kingfisher, and swallow.
Jackson County’s Blue Spring Recreation Area is a popular summer destination (open Memorial Day to Labor Day). The park has picnic, restrooms, swim area, beach, playground, paddle boats, volley ball. The first magnitude spring, which is the main source for Merritt's Mill Pond and Spring Creek, produces over 70 million gallons per day. The spring emanates from underwater caves where rare Georgia blind salamander and Dougherty Plain cave crayfish are found.
More information on paddling at Merritt's Mill Pond (opens in a new window):
Paddling in Florida - Kayak, Canoe