Merritt’s Mill Pond, situated a little to the east of Marianna, FL, is a 202-acre basin supplied primarily by the Jackson Blue Spring. Bordered by limestone rocks, lush ferns, and gorgeous cypress trees, the pond is an excellent destination for those who want to escape to nature.
The headwaters of this four-mile pond are the “Jackson Blue,” which produces over 64 million gallons of water daily into the reservoir. A few smaller springs contribute to its continuous flow too. Visitors come from near and far to marvel at the crystal-clear waters, which are said to be some of the most beautiful in the state.
Part of the pond’s formation is due to a manufactured dam. Blue Spring’s original barrier was erected in the 1830s, but it was removed because it was too near to the spring and did not enable the grain mill wheel to work.
The pond has been at its current length since around 1866 when a new dam was erected at its current location. Later on, the embankment was sold and extended, resulting in the current size of the pond.
Swimming, Scuba, Paddling and Other Activities
This pond is an oasis for outdoor lovers who enjoy time by the water. Boating, swimming, and snorkeling are some of the best things to do in the area. Paddleboarding and kayaks are great for exploring the smaller springs, which are home to numerous types of wildlife.
Three ways to access the pond include an entry from the Jackson Blue Spring Recreation Area, the Florida Caverns RV Resort, and the Hunter Fish Camp Road. Guided tours of the pond are offered by nearby companies, too.
Cave diving is also very popular year-round, but the proper certification is required to do this safely and is enforced. Before 2008, scuba diving access was limited to the same summer hours that were open to the public, but that was overturned to give divers more time in the water.
The water is around 10-12 feet deep along the several miles of the pond, which create the perfect environment for exploration.
Fishing is another sport that can’t be overlooked at Merritt’s Mill Pond. The most commonly caught fish include largemouth bass, bluegill, spotted sunfish, and redear sunfish. The pond now has the record for the largest redear sunfish in the state at 4.86 pounds and held the world record fish until recently.
Aside from the abundance of fish, many other critters call the pond region their home. Alligators, snakes, turtles, and large birds like hawks and kingfishers can be found in the area.
Lodging and Camping
The Florida Caverns RV Resort is based right on the banks of Merritt’s Mill Pond and has RV pull-through sites, furnished campers, and cabins to book a stay in. The property is pet-friendly, has its own boat ramp, and is set on 22 acres visitors can enjoy quick access to water activities like snorkeling, swimming, and boating.
Full-service hookups and complimentary WiFi are just a couple of the establishment’s amenities, and they are open for overnight, short-term, or long-term guests.
Address: 4820 Hwy 90, Marianna, Florida 32446 (RV Resort address on the pond’s edge)
Season: Memorial Day to Labor Day (year-round for scuba divers)
Hours: 9:30 am to 6 pm