Paddle, swim, fish or cave dive at Merritt’s Mill Pond in Marianna

June 8, 2020

Entrance to the Jackson Blue cave at Merritt’s Mill Pond. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Spring fed pond a natural wonder to explore

What do Jackson Blue, Shangri-la, Twin Caves, Indian Wash Tub, Hole-in-the-Wall, Gator Hole, and Hidey Hole have in common? They are all names of springs feeding into the crystal clear waters of beautiful Merritt’s Mill Pond in Jackson County.

Located just east of Marianna, Merritt’s Mill Pond is actually a 202-acre reservoir fed mostly by one spring named Blue Spring or Jackson Blue. Considered to be one of the most beautiful springs to explore by divers, Jackson Blue’s main vent is a limestone cave close to 5,000 ft. in length. It is a first magnitude spring, discharging an average of about 76 million gallons a day, and is the head waters of Merritt’s Mill pond.

Several smaller springs feed into the four-mile long pond, creating a haven wildlife viewing as you explore on your kayak, canoe, stand up paddle board or boat.

Towering stands of cypress trees draped with Spanish moss are scattered throughout the pond along with oak leaf hydrangea and ferns dotting the limestone rocks along the banks. A variety of birds can be viewed such as herons, cormorants, ibis, kingfisher and cave dwelling black vultures. Turtles are a common sight as they often sunbathe on old floating logs.

There are three main accesses points to Merritt’s Mill Pond. A boat ramp located off of Hunter Fish Camp Road, a park maintained by Jackson County named Blue Springs Recreation Area and Florida Caverns RV Resort at the southern end of the pond. The boat ramp has adequate parking and easy access for boats and paddlers. Blue Springs Recreation Area boasts picnic tables, playground, volleyball court, rest rooms and a designated swimming area with lifeguards during the summer season.

Blue Springs Map download.

Interested in diving at Merritt’s Mill Pond?
Cave Adventurers offers diver equipment for rent along with pontoon rentals. They also offer lodging geared for divers on Merritt’s Mill Pond. To learn more, click here and Hole in The Wall House.

Shangri-La spring on Merritt’s Mill Pond. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

To dive Jackson Blue you will need to sign in at Cave Adventurers and pay a fee of $25 for first the day, $10 for all consecutive days and $150 for annual pass.

How to get there:
Merritt’s Mill Pond is accessible off US 90 in Marianna by taking SR 71 north 1.1 miles to SR 164. For the boat ramp, go 1.8 miles and then south on Hunter Fish Camp Rd. to the ramp. To get to the Blue Springs Recreation Area, continue on SR 164 to Blue Springs Road and turn right.

Merritt’s Mill Pond is renowned for its trophy redear (shellcracker) fishing. The pond currently holds the State record for shellcracker at 4.86 pounds and until recently held the world record fish.

More than forty years ago the federal government owned the Blue Springs site and operated an officer’s club for members of Graham Air Force Base.

Blue Springs Recreation Area: 
Open Memorial Day through Labor Day
5461 Blue Springs Road, Marianna, Florida 32446
Telephone: (850) 482-2114 Alternate: (850) 718-0437
For off season rentals contact the Parks Dept. at: (850) 718-5210 
Open 7 days a week 11a.m. – 6 p.m. (CST) through Aug. Then weekends through Labor Day
Holidays 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Admission Fee: $4.00 per person

Camping: Florida Caverns RV Resort 
4820 US Highway 90, East 
Marianna, Florida 32446 Phone: 850-482-5583