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Reported: May 2013

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.)



View Larger Map
Distance: 4  miles in length
Location: Jackson County
Difficulty: Easy
Tidal: No
Launch point: Public boat ramp at Hunters Fish Camp Road, Arrowhead Campground off US90 near the dam (launch fee applies) (See map, left)
Kayak/Canoe Rentals: Blue Springs Recreational Area, Cave Adventurers (links, above right)
Nearby points of interest: Blue Springs, Florida Caverns State Park, Panhandle Pioneer Settlement

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.

Paddling on Merritt's Mill Pond
(tap or hover over photo for larger view)
We launched at the public boat ramp at Hunters Fish Camp Road and paddled to Blue Springs and back, about 3.5 miles including winding back and forth through the cypress.
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Public boat ramp/launch Leaving launch area Onto the pond
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Through the cypress and back onto the pond We saw a few motorboats on the pond Turtles
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There are several homes along the shoreline One scenic view after another! Back to the public boat ramp/launch
Springs and Caves
Blue Spring is the main source of water for Merritt's Mill Pond, but other springs feed in as well. Caves can also be seen around the pond (Shangri-la, Twin Caves, Indian Wash Tub, Hole-in-the-Wall, Gator Hole, and Hidey Hole).
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Blue Spring, source of Merritt's Mill Pond and Spring Creek which feeds into the Chipola River, open Memorial Day to Labor Day Shangri-la Spring is a popular
diving site with underwater caves
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Another spring and diving site Other caves

More information on paddling at Merritt's Mill Pond (opens in a new window):

- Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission - Merritt's Mill Pond

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Merritt's Mill Pond

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