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Trip report: May 2013

Merritt's Mill Pond...

Paddling on an Unexpected Treat in the Florida 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 discovery on our trip to paddle the nearby Chipola River. Fed by Jackson County’s Blue Springs and numerous other smaller 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. Ideal for kayak or canoe. (Detailed map and photos below.)

Florida Panhandle, Merritt's Mill Pond, paddle, kayak

Merritts Mill Pond Paddling Map

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Distance: 4 miles in length
Location: Jackson County
Difficulty: Easy
Tidal: No
Launch points: Public boat ramp at Hunters Fish Camp Road, Arrowhead Campground off US90 near the dam (launch fee applies) (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Blue Springs, Florida Caverns State Park, Panhandle Pioneer Settlement


Blue Springs Recreational Area  (rentals)

Cave Adventurers  (cave diving equipment)

 Page Summary:

  1. Paddling at Merritt's Mill Pond
    - Launch and Pond
    - Blue Spring
    - Other Springs and Caves
  2. More Information and Resources

Paddling at Merritt's Mill Pond... Comments and Photos

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. Wildlife includes alligators, turtles, snakes, and birds such as hawks, herons, kingfisher, and swallow. 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.

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. One scenic view after another, it was almost too much to take in! There are some homes along the shore, and while there are motor boats on the pond (fishing or diving), the many underwater stumps limit the speed and number.

Launch and Pond

Through the Cypress

Blue Spring

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. 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. We were there off-season, so could only view from the water.

Other 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).

More Information and Resources

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