For the first time, after many years exploring this narrow run, we were able to paddle all the way to Gissy Spring. Details of why follow…James
Gissy Spring Overview:
Gissy Spring is a privately owned spring that flows 0.40 miles southwest into the Rainbow River. The spring actually has 2 vents, formerly known as Indian Creek Spring #3 and Indian Creek Spring #4. The spring discharges into a circular bowl-shaped depression 80 ft. in diameter and discharges from a 15.5 ft deep sand vent strewn with limestone boulders.
Prior to 2006, Indian Creek Spring was full of debris and mud. In 2006 the land that surrounded the spring was purchased for $2.1 million by Jim Gissy, a successful investor/developer, thus the name change to Gissy Spring. Gissy invested an additional $400,000 to have the spring cleaned and restored to the clear water spring it is today.
Private Property vs Navigable Waters…
Those that have paddled up Gissy Spring run in the past have been greeted by a locked gate with several ‘No Trespassing’ signs. The run flows from Gissy Spring into the Rainbow River and this gate, a few hundred feet into the run, blocks any further access to the spring.
The question is, can a landowner of a spring legally block public access to the spring as well as the run? It all depends on the definition of “Navigable Waters“. In order to determine if water is navigable, and thus held by the State of Florida, a person need to consider whether in 1845, the year Florida became a State, if the waterway was potentially useful for public commerce or recreation. If so, absent additional considerations, title to the waters (including the land up to the high mean water line) is vested in the State and NOT the property owner. ( https://www.theclosingagent.com/waterrights/ )
In 1979 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on conditions to be a navigable water ( Established in Kaiser Aetna v. United States, 444 U.S. 164, 100 S. Ct. 383, 62 L. Ed. 2d 332 ). It was determined that 4 conditions had to be met…whether the body of water
- (1) is subject to the ebb and flow of the tide,
- (2) connects with a continuous interstate waterway,
- (3) has navigable capacity, and
- (4) is actually navigable.
Using these tests, courts have held that bodies of water much smaller than lakes and rivers also constitute navigable waters. Even shallow streams that are traversable only by canoe have met the test ( Encyclopedia.com ). For further reading…1972 Clean Water Act, Definition of “Navigable Waters, and The Public Trust Doctrine: Historic Protection for Florida’s Navigable Rivers and Lakes.
Currently, that gate has been opened and in it’s place is a new gate, that has a revolving section in the middle allowing for the passage of a canoe or kayak. We passed through the revolving gate and, for the first time, reached Gissy Spring.
The Paddle Route…
Location: The Rainbow River, is located, in Dunellon, Fl, about 20 miles southwest of Ocala, in Marion County. It flows south for half of it’s length, turning southwesterly for the final half. The mouth of Gissy Spring, entering the Rainbow River is at 29° 5’25.15”N, 82°25’33.23″W.
Launch point(s): The launch for this paddle was K.P. Hole County Park – 9435 SW 190th Avenue Rd, Dunnellon, FL 34432. Nice launch, Restrooms, Parking fills quickly! Daily user fee of $5.00, Rentals and tours.
Rest Areas: Restrooms available at the launch at K.P. Hole, Blue Run Park and several areas along the river where it is shallow enough to exit your kayak.
Important Information: Remain in your kayak or in mid-stream as this is private property up to and along the mean high water mark.
Launch was at K.P. Hole County Park. It was sunny, breezy and in the mid 80°’s. We paddled against the current, on the Rainbow River, which has a pretty strong flow. The mouth of Gissy Spring Run ( Indian Creek ) is located on the eastern bank of the river a little over a 1/4 mile from K.P.Hole. There are a couple of Bay trees out from the entrance of the run that make for a nice landmark. The water is clear and usually no more than a couple of feet deep, making for a good rest stop. Worth marking for future paddles, this spot does get quite crowded on weekends as well as during the summer months.
The run to Gissy Spring is awesome. A trip through lush hardwood and tropical forest, with Palms, Tupelo, Cypress…the water is crystal clear, has a beautiful white sand bottom and a strong flow.
Cardinal Flower and Swamp Lilies accent the waterway on this trip as the sun peaks through off and on from the thick canopy overhead. At the halfway mark is a new gate, along with the ‘No Trespassing’ signs. They have been intimidating in the past, however, we were on Navigable Water. A member of our paddle group noticed the gate had a revolving opening with no lock, that allowed passage of a canoe or kayak. She paddled on through to explore and we followed, continuing on this narrow, lush waterway to Gissy Spring.
The Spring is definitely a resort done well and again, Private Property, so remaining in the kayak is a must. The spring owners can be contacted online in order to book a night at $5,000 a night! Out of my league for sure. After viewing the spring, we headed back and relaxed in the water of the run. It is a fun paddle from the spring head to the Rainbow River. With the strong current I paddled hard, fast and enjoyed a fun trip back.
Having paddled the Rainbow River for several years, this was certainly a first…to be able to finally paddle all the way up the run to Gissy Spring. It made for another good chapter in Florida Paddle Notes!
Gissy Spring Gallery:
Guides, Maps & Info…
- Rainbow River Topo Map…
- 1972 Clean Water Act…
- The Public Trust Doctrine: Historic Protection for Florida’s Navigable Rivers and Lakes.
- Revisions to the Regulatory Definition of “Navigable Waters”…
- Gissy Spring…Gissy Spring on Facebook…
- Jim Gissy…