Indian Creek & Gissy Spring

Indian Creek & Gissy Spring

Stumpknocker at Gissy Spring
Stumpknocker at the mouth of Indian Creek

For the first time, after many years exploring this narrow run called Indian Creek, 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 into Indian Creek and travels 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…

icon-information-lrg-orangeThose that have paddled up Indian Creek in the past have been greeted by a locked gate with several ‘No Trespassing’ signs. The creek 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 a waterway is navigable, and thus held by the State of Florida.

Florida Navigable Waters…

In 1845, Florida was granted statehood and admitted to the Union, and simultaneously was granted title to all lands beneath navigable waters, by virtue of its sovereignty.

The state constitution addresses the issue of sovereignty lands in Article X, §11 where it states: “The title to lands under navigable waters, within the boundaries of the state, which have not been alienated, including beaches below mean high water lines, is held by the state, by virtue of its sovereignty in trust for all the people. ” This constitutional provision establishes what the state owns by virtue of its sovereignty, “lands under navigable waters,” and for what purpose these lands are held “in trust for all the people.” Title to these lands, as well as administration, management, and control, is vested in the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund…Florida Bar Journal Vol 76 No. 1 January 2002

A person needs 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 waterline) is vested in the State and NOT the property owner. ( )

In 1979 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on conditions to be navigable water ( Established in Kaiser Aetna v. the 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 the 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 ( ). 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.

You can read a more detailed account of Paddlers’ Rights on Navigable Florida Waterways here.

A call to remove my post…

The Letter
The Letter

On April 23rd, 2020, I received an email from Kathryn Gissy Saft Esq., a lawyer representing Jim Gissy’s interests The email revolves around the above-mentioned post from October 16, 2019, titled Gissy Spring. Ms. Saft stated that the spring, and the run, are NOT navigable waters under Florida law and is therefore, along with the land beneath the water, private property.

I was told to “immediately remove the aforementioned blog post and confirm your compliance with this demand within three (3) business days“, or “face consequences of being responsible for anyone paddling up there and stealing personal property or equipment“. In a subsequent email, I was provided a 2006 Boundary Survey for Gissy Springs, being advised to check any survey of the Rainbow River to confirm that Indian Creek and the spring, are not navigable waterways.

The survey provided did not confirm anything but the Mean High Water Mark for the Rainbow River. Specifically noted in the Survey Report that was included, the surveyor specifically states that the survey does not include a survey of the spring and run, states that portions of the submerged lands may be subject to Sovereign Ownership Rights of the state of Florida and concludes that Riparian Rights, Rights of Accretion or Reliction, Submerged Land Rights, Wetland Jurisdictional Boundaries or any other water rights of any nature were not determined by this survey.

In summary…

This obviously leaves the issue still unsettled for paddlers. This can be easily settled if Ms. Saft would provide information that deeds to Mr. Gissy the sovereign land of Florida above and beneath Indian Creek and the Indian Springs, of which there are 4. Documentation must also show that Indian Creek is not a navigable waterway.

As paddlers, we often run into situations like this and it is always helpful to understand our public rights on Florida’s waterways. My original post will remain up, though I will gladly amend it when presented with the information needed. I continue to state that it is always up to each person to respect private property rights along Florida’s waterways.

icon-information-lrg-orangeImportant Information: Remain in your kayak or in mid-stream as this is private property up to and along the mean high watermark of the Rainbow River.

The Paddle Route…

Indian Creek
Indian Creek and Indian Creek Springs Group

Gissy Details:

Location IconLocation: The Rainbow River, is located, in Dunellon, Fl, about 20 miles southwest of Ocala, in Marion County. It flows south for half of its 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″ aW.


Kayak Launch IconLaunch 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! A daily user fee of $5.00, Rentals, and tours.


Distance IconPaddle Distance: K.P Hole launch to Gissy Spring and back is 1.4 miles. We did paddle further on the Rainbow River, however.


Duration IconDifficulty: Moderate. A medium to strong current in some sections, tight and twisting in some sections.


Duration IconAverage Paddle Speed: 1.5 mph.


Width Depth iconWidth and Depth: The width is from 10 – 20′ on average while depth ranges from 8″ to a few feet.


Current tidal IconCurrent – Tidal: The current is moderate flowing from Gissy Spring into the Rainbow River


Side Paddle IconSide Paddles: Rainbow River


icon-restroomsRest Areas: Restrooms are 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.


icon-information-lrg-orangeImportant Information: Remain in your kayak or in mid-stream as this is private property up to and along the mean high watermark. The gate is currently locked halfway up Indian Creek and paddlers are encouraged to respect private property rights on Florida waterways.

K.P.Hole Launch…

KP Hole - Canoe & Kayak Launch
KP Hole – Canoe & Kayak Launch
At Gissy Spring Run
James at Indian Creek

The 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. 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 makes 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.

Indian Creek & Gissy Spring:

Gissy Spring
Entering Gissy Spring

Paddling Indian Creek 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 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, in my understanding, 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, we are surrounded by 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 was a fun paddle from the springhead to the Rainbow River. With the strong current, I paddled hard, and 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!

Indian Creek & Gissy Spring Gallery:

Guides, Maps & Info…

Rainbow River/Indian Creek…

Florida’s Navigable Waters…

Riparian Rights…

Gissy Spring and more…