Ruth Spring - Branford, Florida
Also called Sulfur Spring, the second magnitude
Ruth Spring feeds the Suwannee River just a few
miles north of Branford, Florida.
Divers in Ruth Spring
The submerged cave system that
feeds the spring is popular with
scuba divers, as is nearby Troy
Spring State Park.
A sulphur spring?
Ruth Spring is called Sulphur
Spring by local residents and
visitors sometimes can smell a
sulphur like odor from the water.
Ruth Spring - Branford, Florida
A Second Magnitude Spring
|Copyright 2014 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Updated: July 18, 2014
Suwannee River Points of Interest
Spring meets the Suwannee
The water from Ruth Spring flows
about 550 feet to Florida's famed
Suwannee River. It is one of a
number of springs in the Branford
Ruth Springs Tract
The spring is part of the Ruth
Springs tract, a 649-acre preserve
established by the Suwannee River
Water Management District.
Ruth Spring is one of an array of natural
springs that feed the Suwannee River near
Florida's Troy Spring State Park.
Still called Sulphur Spring by many local
residents, it produces a noticeable sulphur
smell at certain times. Such springs were
once highly regarded for the curative powers
that some believed could be found in their
It is thought that Florida has more natural
springs than any other place on earth. This is
due to the state's unique karst topography
and the pristine waters of the Floridian
Karst is a type of porous topography that is
created when water erodes soft rock such as
limestone to create caves, sinkholes and
springs. Since much of Florida rests on a
base of limestone, it is blessed with some of
the world's most impressive springs.
There are a total of eight different categories
of springs in Florida. The largest of these are
First Magnitude springs such as Silver
Springs, Rainbow Springs and Jackson Blue
Springs. These all flow at volumes of more
than 64.6 million gallons of water per second.
Making up the next level are the Second
Magnitude springs like Ruth Spring, which
produce 6.46-64.6 million gallons per day.
Fanning Springs, lower down the Suwannee,
was once listed as a First Magnitude spring
but its flow diminished over time and it now
falls in the same category as Ruth.
The first people to make use of Ruth Spring
were the prehistoric hunters and gatherers
who drifted into the Suwannee River valley
thousands of years ago. Called Paleo people
by archaeologists, they came in pursuit of
ancient game animals such as mastodon.
Florida's natural springs were ideal places
for hunting and killing such animals because
they often waded into the water. The ancient
American Indian hunters could then surround
the spring basin and attack them from higher
ground with spears or lances.
As the environment of Florida changed over
thousands of years, the mastodon and other
such animals became extinct and the ancient
people adapted to survive. The Paleo time
was followed by the Archaic, Woodland,
Mississippian and finally historic time
The Suwannee River was a center for heavy
population through all of these time periods.
Its natural springs remained important
sources for food, although the type of
animals hunted changed from mastodon to
bison (buffalo) and finally whitetail deer.
By the time the Panfilo de Narvaez and
Hernando de Soto expeditions marched
through Florida in the early 1500s, the
Suwannee had become a natural border
dividing the Timucua and Apalachee nations.
Its importance as a place for hunting by both
groups is evidenced by the fact that they told
the Spanish it was the "River of Deer."
While many natural springs were adapted or
dammed over time - often to power mills or
create swimming areas - Ruth Spring has
remained largely pristine.
Its basin or spring pool is about 75 feet long
and 51 feet wide. The bottom is sandy and
scenic limestone outcrops surround the
spring, which actually flows from a vent on its
western side. The water is around 6 feet
deep at the point it flows from the submerged
cave that creates the spring.
Water flows from the spring basin via a small
stream or spring run. The run travels through
a low floodplain forest to the Suwannee River
which it enters about 550 feet away.
Part of the 649 acre Ruth Springs tract, the
spring is on the lands of the Suwannee River
Water Management District (SWRMD). It is
accessible for swimming, picnicking and
To reach Ruth Spring from nearby Branford,
travel west on U.S. Highway 27 for 4.8 miles
and turn right on County Road 425. After one
mile turn right onto a dirt road that leads into
the Ruth Springs tract. Follow this dirt road
for 1.1 mile and turn left onto the short dirt
road that leads 0.1 mile to the spring.
Please click here to access a map from the
SWRMD for help in finding the spring.
There are no facilities at the spring.
While visiting Ruth Spring, be sure to stop at
Troy Spring State Park. Just a short distance
north CR 425 from the entrance to the Ruth
Springs tract, the state park features picnic
areas, nature trails, beautiful Troy Spring and
the wreck of the Civil War era steamboat
Suwannee River at Ruth Spring
The historic river, seen here from
the end of Ruth Spring Run, is of
considerable width and depth in
the Branford area.