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Big Citrus Blue Spring, also known as Big Blue or Citrus Blue Spring, is truly a beautiful hidden gem found off the wild Withlacoochee River in Central Florida. A tough paddle upstream will lead you to this secluded oasis of perfectly blue water tucked away in the dense Florida forest. After a couple hours of paddling against the current on dark water, Big Blue reveals itself as a refreshing place to cool off in the hot Florida sun. Check out all the necessary tips below to find this gorgeous Florida spring!
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Getting To Big Citrus Blue Spring Off The Withlacoochee
Planning your trip to paddle the Withlacoochee is pretty straight forward. You’ll want to plug the Spruce Drive Boat Ramp into your GPS or use this to navigate to the launching point. The Spruce Drive Boat Ramp is just southwest of Dunnellon which is where the beautiful Rainbow River is. (Check out my other post here on kayaking Rainbow River to Rainbow Springs). The Spruce Drive Boat Ramp is about 1.5 hours from Orlando and Tampa. It’s just a small public boat ramp with limited facilities. Another access point to Big Citrus Blue Spring would be launch at Turner Camp Boat Ramp which you can see here. The Turner Camp Boat Ramp is right next to the Potts Preserve Campground which could be a great place to stay before or after your adventure!
Paddling The Withlacoochee In Search Of Citrus Blue
There are two options when paddling the Withlacoochee in search of Citrus Blue Spring. Launching from either Spruce Drive or Turner Camp will get you to this beautiful oasis in the middle of the forest.
Launch from Spruce Drive and you will need to go right out of the boat ramp and paddle against the current for approximately 3.5 miles upstream. The current can be tough depending on the time of year. If there has been a lot of rain like in the summer, expect some higher water levels and faster moving water. If it has been dry for sometime like in the winter, expect lower water levels and potentially more obstacles to maneuver around. This route is pretty straight forward. Paddling upstream took my good looking group about 2 hours and the float back was closer to about an hour. We visited during the summer, but before any substantial rainfall.
Launching from Turner Camp will have you floating with the current initially and a slightly longer paddle back to base. From Turner Camp to Big Citrus Blue is about 5.5 miles. With the campground being close by, this might be a great option to launch from Turner Camp and float with the current to Big Citrus Blue and continue your float all the way to Spruce Drive Boat Ramp. You’ll need a pickup or shuttle for this option, so bring two cars! The two launch points are about a 30 minute drive from each other.
Check out these maps for your Withlacoochee paddling adventure!
When To Visit Big Blue
Like mentioned above, the summer months will potentially have some faster moving water with the rain whereas the winter months may bring about more obstacles in your path with the lower water levels. Anytime is really a great time to visit except potentially after some very significant rainfall. With Citrus Blue Spring being just off the Withlacoochee River, with too much rain the river could potentially flood into the spring causing it to “brown out” which means that the beautiful blue water seen in these pictures would instead be a dark brown and similar to the river water.
The summer months will also obviously be much busier at Big Citrus Blue Spring. Though this spring is surrounded by private property, locals still frequent this watering hole to cool off during the heat of the summer. On the weekends you’ll see the biggest crowds so shoot for a weekday if possible or try heading out during the winter when there’s a lower chance of running into a crowd.
What To Bring When Kayaking The Withlacoochee River
- Sunglasses. I’ll never stop recommending these Oakley Sunglasses. I’ve had them for almost 10 years and they are still going strong!
- Hat. I’m sure you have a hat laying around, but if you don’t, here’s one of my favorites!
- Sunscreen. This water-resistant sunscreen is perfect for kayaking!
- Bug Spray. If you don’t do well with some of the harsh insect repellents, try this one!
- Goggles/Snorkel Set: I have this set of snorkel and goggles and absolutely love them!
- If you need a paddleboard to check out my favorite, the iRocker Inflatable SUP!
Swimming At Big Blue
This beautiful swimming hole is surrounded by private property. So in reality, only locals or those who have boated to Big Citrus Blue would be there to swim. If you are paddling, make sure to bring all your swimming gear so you can enjoy this cool off the beaten path spot. There’s a rope swing to take advantage of and a very deep dive spot just in the middle to explore. Once the water got stirred up, the water wasn’t as clear as when we first arrive. It had almost a cloudy look to it. There is also an extensive cave system that runs throughout this area of Florida which according to a local we ran into, this cave runs under the river to the other side where other springs are also visible.
Here’s that snorkel set I mentioned before just in case you still need one!
Places To Stay Near Big Citrus Blue Spring
Potts Preserve: This primitive campground and backcountry camping spot is a great way to stay close to where you launch if you decide to start your paddle from Turner Camp Road.
Comfort Inn and Suites: Located in the next closest town of Dunnellon, this budget friendly hotel will get you close enough to all the action. Rainbow Springs is only a short drive away too!
Where To Eat Near Citrus Blue Spring
After your paddle you’ll most likely be starving! Check out Stumpknockers On The River. This local gem is really the place to get good food at a great price with an amazing hometown atmosphere. It’s just around the corner from the Spruce Drive Boat Ramp.
If you are looking for something more towards Dunnellon and Rainbow River, check out Swampy’s Bar & Grille. They’ve got a cute patio that overlooks the river where you’ll most likely see some kayaks, tubers and even otters passing by!
Other Springs To Visit Near Big Blue
Florida has a ton of amazingly beautiful freshwater springs scattered across the state! This area in particular has quite a few within a relatively short drive. Check out a couple of these springs when you’re in the area to paddle the Withlacoochee in search of Citrus Blue Spring.
1. Rainbow River: A must see Florida spring! This beautiful river is about 7 miles long and is crystal clear the entire way! Keep your eye out for otters, gators and other wildlife as you float along one of the most beautiful rivers in Florida. Check out this detailed post for more information on kayaking Rainbow River.
2. Crystal River: This area is much more residential, but the Three Sisters Spring and Hunter Spring are two beautiful spots in the King’s Bay Area. Check out this spot in the winter for a chance to see manatees in the wild and even swim with them! Here’s a post that can help you plan your Crystal River adventure.
3. Chassahowitzka: This lesser known Florida spring is tucked away so that wildlife is plentiful and the crowds only seem to show up on weekends and holidays. A few easy cave diving options are available here which makes for a great snorkeling experience! Click here for some tips on how to enjoy the Chaz.
Please remember to respect all of Florida’s natural places by always picking up after yourself, never harassing the wildlife, and taking only pictures for memories!