Have you ever wanted to see a waterfall in Florida? Here's your chance. The waterfall on this hike is not high at all, but it's interesting in other aspects, not to mention that it's pretty powerful. Besides the waterfall, you'll get to experience the beauty of the Suwanee River Valley. Additionally, you can extend your hike to see Florida's only Class III whitewater rapids. This hike occurred on Sunday, July 19th, 2015. My plan was to hike the Florida Trail from the trailhead at Bell Springs to at least Robinson Creek Falls. Depending on conditions, I wanted to visit the Big Shoals on the Suwannee River, but a deep-looking ford of Robinson Creek happened to be my turnaround point, as I didn't have the proper gear for fording at the time.
R/T Length of Trail: 2 Miles
Duration of Hike: 1:00
Type of Hike: Out and Back
Difficulty Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: Well-defined, easy trail; great river views not far from the trailhead
Cons: Possibly deep ford on the way to Big Shoals
Points of Interest: Robinson Creek Falls; Big Shoals
Trail Blaze Color(s): Florida Trail - Blue
Best Season(s) to Hike: Year-round
Beginning Point: Bell Springs Trailhead
Directions: From White Springs, FL: Follow US Route 41 South for 3 miles. Then, turn left onto Lassie Black Street. Follow Lassie Black Street for 1.8 miles, and then, turn left onto Morrell Drive. Follow Morrell Drive for 1 mile to a cul-de-sac. The following is not very obvious: continue straight onto a dirt road that looks like a driveway to a house. There should be a sign for "Bell Springs Tract". Pass a house on the right and continue down the dirt road to a grassy parking area. This is the start of the hike.
This short hike turned out to be one of my favorites in Florida. This was my last hike there on this trip, and I was debating whether to do it or not, and in the end I derided to. I'm glad I did. This hike is a must-do; I'm sure it would be even more spectacular if you continue to Big Shoals. You'll have to get all of the information about this hike online or from books, however, because there's pretty much none at the trailhead.
The trail starts out behind a gate going down an old forest road. There is an empty kiosk at the trailhead. At 0.1 miles, reach a confusing junction that has a sign commemorating the people who helped to make this land protected. There's a trail that goes left here, marked by an orange blaze. To my understanding, this is the main route of the Florida Trail that continues west/northwest along the Suwannee River. To the right, a short spur trail leads to a fence surrounding a stream. This spur trail is worth taking, as at the fence, you'll see the outflow stream of Bell Springs. Unfortunately, you can't see the spring itself - it's located just upstream from the opening. Back at the junction, the trail you need to take for this hike is straight ahead. This is the Florida Trail too, but at the moment, it is not part of the main route, and thus, it is known as a spur trail. Gradually descend following the blue blazes. At 0.2 miles, cross the stream from Bell Springs on a relatively new footbridge. Then, follow the stream downstream. Reach the Suwannee River at 0.4 miles at the bottom of a hill. There are great views of the river here. Right away, you'll notice something bizarre: foam in the river. The foam is caused by the rapids upstream. Part of it is also brought in from Robinson CReek Falls.
The trail bears right and parallels the river closely. At 0.7 miles, the trail rounds a swampy stream and reaches Robinson Creek. The trail follows Robinson Creek upstream, but before you take it, turn left and walk down to the bank of Robinson Creek. Then, take a slim path downstream along Robinson Creek to its confluence with the Suwannee River. This is a beautiful spot and a great view. Once you've seen the view, return to the main trail and continue upstream. After a short uphill, at 0.8 miles, reach an outcrop with a view of Robinson Creek Falls. This falls is just a cascade in the creek, but it is interesting nonetheless. The water is rust-colored in the cascade itself. Below the cascade, there is a picturesque pool full of foamy water. From Robinson Creek Falls, the trail briefly ascends and stays above the creek before joining an old road at 0.9 miles. Keep left, and descend moderately to a ford of Robinson Creek at 1 mile. This was my turnaround point. I had planned to continue to Big Shoals, but without proper footwear and hiking poles, this deep-looking ford should not be attempted. Because of the black water, you can't see how deep it is. Also, Big Shoals can be viewed from a different vantage point on the opposite side of the river, and as I've heard, the approach doesn't involve anything such as fords. I will include more details below.
Continue to Big Shoals - 2.8 Miles
Big Shoals Trail at Big Shoals State Park is an easy hike that will give you a different aspect of Big Shoals and the Suwannee River. Visit the park's website or contact the park for more information on the park's various trails. It is easy to make a full hiking day by combining this hike with the trails in Big Shoals State Park.
Year 1: 540.0 Miles
Year 2: 552.3 Miles
Year 3: 518.4 Miles
Year 4: 107.2 Miles