As a spring hunter, I love to check out the springs and make my own decisions about them. On of the ones we stopped at on this summer's spring hunting trip was Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park, which is located in High Springs. This spring used to be privately owned and operated, but was purchased by the state in 2017, and was turned into the state's 175th state park.
Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park is located close to Ginnie Springs and Poe Springs. There is a $6 per car admission fee to get in. The first time we went it was far too busy, but when we went back after it was turned into a state park it was a much better experience. The boardwalk described below is gone, because it was destroyed by Hurricane Irma. The jump platform has also been removed, because it was structurally outdated and unsafe.
This review below is from when it was privately owned (and overly exploited). Our experience going with it being a state park was great! Less busy, more enjoyable, better managed. We also camped there for four nights. You can read our camping experience here.
We went to the main spring many times over the four days that we camped at this park. One of the perks of camping at a park with any springs is that you can avoid the crowds and enjoy the spring. You can go to the spring early in the day and late in the day, and avoid the big crowd that comes in between that time. By camping at the springs we often have times when we have the spring all to ourselves, or there are just a couple of other people in there at the time. It's fantastic!
Gilchrist Blue is a gorgeous spring, and it is so much better now that it is a state park. They have removed the jump platform, which makes it more enjoyable for people to snorkel and swim around. You know longer have to worry about people jumping on you while you are swimming. There are plenty of picnic tables to leave your belongings, and head into the spring. You enter the spring like a beach, with it being very shallow in areas. It's deeper over the spring vent.
You can rent kayaks at this park and use them to take the spring run all the way back to the Santa Fe River, which is beautiful. I really missed the long boardwalk that went all the way back to the river, winding along the spring run. It was lost due to the hurricane, which is a shame, because it provided a unique and beautiful experience.
Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park is shallow enough for kids, making it a family friendly spring.
Before the state took this park over I thought it was sorely being over exploited and mismanaged. It's in much better hands now and the experience we had this time around showed that to us. It's a great spring and we will be back!
Here are pictures from our stop at Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park (the boardwalk no longer goes back to the river, it's a short walk now):