Blue Springs State Park is gorgeous recreation spot in the community of Blue Springs six miles east of Clio, Alabama. It is open daily for swimming, picnicking, camping and other outdoor activities.
The highlight of the park, of course, is Blue Springs. This beautiful natural spring is an important source of water for the west fork of the Choctawhatchee River and flows at a rate of 3,600 gallons per hour. It is formed by the natural karst topography of the region. Water rises to the surface by dissolving passages through limestone strata to form springs.
The spring cave is clearly visible in the center of the upper of the two swimming pools in the park. These are popular places on warm days as local residents and visitors alike flock to the park for a chance to cool off in the 68 degree water. The spring pools maintain a constant temperature year round and the water feels ice cold in the summer but warm on cold winter days.
The site has a rich history. Prehistoric Native Americans discovered the spring thousands of years ago, coming to hunt and fish in the vicinity. Muscogee (Creek) families escaping from the Battle of Hobdy’s Bridge passed by in 1837 as they made their way to Florida.
Blue Springs was always a popular spot for recreation. It may have even moved around a time or two! Local legend holds that the spring originally flowed from a spot north of today’s Choctawhatchee River bridge. For some reason it suddenly dried up but burst to the surface again south of the bridge.
An attempt to convert it to a profitable health spa began in 1890 when Harrison’s Hotel was built in the community. Dreams of a prosperous future there were dashed to some degree when the spring dried up and moved south yet again! This time it rose in a spot called Whigham’s Lime Sink. The owner, J.E.T. Whigham, took advantage of his good fortune and built the Blue Spring Hotel there in 1900. The 28-room facility offered a bath house and other amenities.
Visitors flocked to the springs and the hotels also hosted various gatherings including reunions of aging Confederate soldiers. Blue Springs was noted for its annual 4th of July festivities and people paid $1 a day for a room and three meals at the hotel. Fried chicken was served everyday and was so good that it is still remembered today.
The glory days passed as they often do. The hotel shut its doors in 1924 and the pools finally closed in 1938. The spring remained in private hands until 1963 when J.D. McLaughlin sold it to the state.
Alabama has developed a great park around Blue Springs. Amenities include the pools, picnic areas, a stocked fishing pond, campground (including RV hookups), hiking trails, playgrounds and more.
Blue Springs State Park recently doubled in size thanks to a 100-acre addition made possible by the Forever Wild Land Trust in 2013. A new 2.1 mile Magnolia Trail opened at the park in 2018. It takes hikers through pine woods, wooded slopes and floodplain areas. It is considered an easy to moderate hike and offers beautiful views of the west fork of the Choctawhatchee River.
The park is at 595 Alabama Highway 10, Clio, Alabama. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (October 1 to February 28) and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (March 1 to September 30). Admission is $4 for ages 12-61 and $1 for ages 62+ and 4-11. Kids under 4 are admitted free with an adult.
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