» Hart Springs - Black Lagoon

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Overview Location & Specifics Conditions Resources Nearby Systems  
Portions of the following information were taken from Florida Geological Survey Bulletin 66.

To dive Hart Springs you must have a guide. Click here for information on contacting guides for this site. In addition, the guides are all volunteers, guides are not allowed to charge for services and don't expect anyone to tip them. However, I wouldn't feel bad at least making sure they had a good meal or deco beverage after the dive.

Hart Springs is located within a county recreation area 6.5 miles northwest of Fanning Springs. After crossing over the Suwannee River on US 98/27A heading east, turn north (left) on SR 26 and drive approximately 1.4 miles to the town of Wilcox. In Wilcox, SR 26 makes a 90 degree bend to the east (right). At this bend continue north (straight) onto CR 232. Drive 4.1 miles and turn west (left) on CR 344. Travel 1.6 miles, then turn north (right) into the recreation area.

Description – The head of Hart Springs Run has three merging spring runs. In April 2002, the only significantly flowing spring in this system was at the head of the middle channel and was the one sampled for water quality. The middle spring pool measures 51 ft north to south and 45 ft east to west. The depth of the pool measured over the vent was 19.9 ft. The water was clear and greenish. In the center of the spring pool, a prominent boil is produced on the surface by spring discharge. The vent is a vertical limestone fissure with 15 ft high walls. The spring pool has a nearly rectangular shape and is enclosed by a 4 ft high metal retaining wall. The metal wall extends several hundred feet southward and forms the perimeter of the entire southernmost spring and its run. The bottom is sand in the swimming area where the three spring channels merge. The northern run was not flowing, but the southernmost spring had slight flow with no boil on its surface. Exotic aquatic vegetation is abundant in the spring pool. Algae are abundant in the pool and the run. Other aquatic plants occur on the edges of the pool. From the swimming area at the confluence of the spring runs, Hart Springs Run flows northwest approximately 850 ft into the Suwannee River from the east. The springs are situated within the forested river floodplain. A 0.3 mile long wooden boardwalk follows along the north side of the spring run and the east side of the river, and footbridges cross over both the northernmost and main spring runs. An underwater cave system occurs at Hart Springs.

Utilization - The spring is within a county recreation area that provides full facilities.
4301-4349 SW 90th Ave, Bell, FL 32619, USA
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Latitude: 29.67524
Longitude: -82.94894
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Maximum Depth: 80'
 Cave Diving
 Cavern Diving
 Open Water Diving
Guided
Date Submitter Visbility Remarks
1/26/2013 ltowles 40 Cave is in good shape. Not many divers post flood - still a lot of organics on the walls that break off as particulate as you pass. Black Lagoon is covered with pond scum with 5 ft or less of vis.
5/4/2012 Don Syme 50 Arrived at Black Lagoon in the afternoon. Rick Crawford guided Orie Braun and myself to the upstream side. Had a nice slow pace up to the "Hill" before turning. Vis was about 5' in the Lagoon and improved to 50 in the system. Beautiful cave system.
10/29/2011 Jerry 80 Haven't seen this blue in years; fair flow. No gator at Black Lagoon; I think the mosquitos ate it!
8/19/2011 Jeff Hawes 50ish Dove with Wayne and Jeff from Amigos. Vis at the Black Lagoon was, well, black. Pretty neat entrance by feel anyway. Vis cleared to 50 once down in the system. Journeyed up the mainline to see some pretty spectacular sites that I have not ever seen elsewhere. The changes in the structure of the cave are pretty remarkable. Vertical fissures, bedding plane, like a surprise around everyone of the many many corners. Flow was certainly manageble, but I have not been there enough to know if it was typical... Unfortunantly, a configuration issue prevented an exit through little hart, but that has been addressed and I look forward to it next time.
12/27/2010 Phil 50 Today we made a dive starting at Black Lagoon with our guide Rick Crawford. First, I would like to thank Rick for that beautiful dive. Second, the conditions were great. Viz was 50 feet. Conditions are great but flow is there... we manage to do a little more of 1200 feet from Black Lagoon.
6/13/2010 Cindy 50 I had a great dive today. Went in at the Black Lagoon and out the spring at Hart. Flow was OK, I have seen it worse. Vis was very good, the cave looked great! The manager is checking all certs and keeping track in his computer so on the second dive you just have to show your current DAN card and pay. Pretty cool really.He also told me that the new rule change is you don't have to have 100 dives to go in at the little Hart entrance. They want people new to the system to go with a guide the first time, then you can go on your own. Look on the Hart Springs web page for more info.

Expect a pull and pull situation the first 200 feet into the Cave from the Little Hart Entrance. I would love to see a poor mans scooter, aka rope, put in that section. It would keep people off the floor and protect the cave a bit. The lower section is my favorite part of the cave with great Georthite formations. Please take care around them. They only take 20,000 or so years to form. Have a great dive out there. The park has made a LOT of improvements in the last 5 or 6 years. Take the family, it's a great place.
12/26/2009 Karine less than 10 Basin was clear, but the river has started to reverse inside the cave. Vis was getting worst as we were going down inside the cave. The water was also getting cooler as this was river water. At the T, our guide Rick decided to call the dive off as the vis was probably less than 10 ft and it was all tannic water.
11/14/2009 Walter Pickel 50' Great dive exploring the Ocala Junction Room, The Maze and other assorted T invested areas downstream from Black Lagoon. Ended the dive with a nice swim up the mainline. Viz is getting back to normal but the walls are still stained from the floods.
9/27/2009 Walter Pickel 30'-40' The basin lives up to its name. There was some ambient light around 5' (it was a great blood red from the tanic). The line is thread bear at 25' and viz opens up around 45'. Very nice dive with a good positive flow (nothing like it used to be though). Definitely worth the effort to try to setup a guided dive here. Let me know if you would like to.
9/11/2009 Jerry 25'-50' I made a couple of dives at Hart today. The first was in Black Lagoon; the basin vis is about 6-inches. It clears nicely at about 25 or 30 ft. There is a decent flow. The vis is between 50 and 60 ft. There isn't much particulate in the water column any more although the walls still have quite a bit of silt on them. I also checked Little Hart. There were quite a few tree limbs tangled in the line in the first 400 ft. These have been removed. Every thing is fine for opening on Oct. 1.
8/12/2009 Jerry 40 to 50 Conditions are improving rapidly; there is good flow, basin now clears at the top of the crack at about 35 ft. Great dive
8/2/2009 Jerry 30 to 40 System is now open to divers---decent flow, still a lot of particulate on walls and line.
2/16/2009 Jerry 40 Better vis upstream; still quite a bit of particulate. Did not see a gator---ALL 3 of us were looking. Good dive
1/26/2009 Jerry 50 Flow wasn't bad; easily got to the end of the gold line. Water was nice and clear; no particulate. 5 to 6 ft gator nestled in just above the entrance slot.
1/17/2009 Walter Pickel 50' The flow is up substantially since my dives there in November. Visibility has a tendency to deteriorate when the flow at Hart goes up. Viz was a dusty 50' with heavy particulate.
11/2/2008 Walter Pickel 40'-50' Nice leisurely dive...Viz was cloudy due to divers coming from Little Hart past Black Lagoon. Flow was positive and very manageable.
10/21/2008 Jerry 50' Brought a second set of tanks and dove this after Little Hart; they really seem to be two different systems. Flow was still up. Cave was a little dusty since few have been in there since the flood. All in all it was a great pair of dives.
8/29/2008 Jerry 1 ft /- River is up and cave is blown.
8/5/2008 Jerry 50' Did the downstream section; flow is very low. This part of the cave is hardly dove and looks absolutely pristine. Flow was still pretty good down towards Little Hart because the passage constricts. Great dive.
7/9/2008 Barbara Dwyer 60-80 Lovely, lovely! The flow is swimmable (my first dive there), lots of water lettuce over the black lagoon. A team exited immediately before we went in so the cavern was a little silty but great vis at 20' and beyond. Let's keep this cave undamaged, folks!! It made my heart glad after looking at all the damage in the mainstream caves.
7/2/2008 Jerry 50 ft I had a great dive at Hart yesterday. The vis is in excess of 50 ft and most of the flood debris has flushed out. The basin is tannic but cleared to blue water at 10 ft. The flow is minimal. The system has almost fully recovered from the flooding. The Black Lagoon is now open for diving under the normal rules and guest/guide ratio. Also, even though we were out there right at dusk there were no mosquitoes!
5/17/2008 Jerry 40 to 50 ft Water level is still up in Black Lagoon; basin vis is OK. Vis in the cave acceptable; there is alot of silt and debris on the walls from the flooding and the flow is up---not up for Hart but up from what it was pre-flood. System is open for diving upstream of Black Lagoon with a temporary 1:1 guide/guest ratio. Keep your fin blast off the walls and the vis should stay pretty good.
2/23/2008 Bob Schulte 60-80 Basin vis was lousy, probably due to the heavy rains. Once in the cave the vis was great.
2/6/2008 Rick Crawford 70'-80' Conditions at Black Lagoon were excellent today. Good vis in the basin and 70'-80' vis in the cave system. Water lettuce is back.
1/19/2008 Walter Pickel 60-80 Thanks again to the CDS for hosting the 2008 HECC (Hart Spring Educational Cave Clinic). Cave was gorgeous (as always). Nice positive flow making a downstream jaunt possible at the end of the dive. Thanks to Jerry, Beth, Jill and anyone else who got rid of most of the lettuce and putting in the stairs.
1/4/2008 Jim Wyatt 80-100 feet Basin was very clear. Vis in the cave was great. What a beautiful dive. Very little evidence of divers in there.
12/22/2007 Jerry 60 to 80 ft Basin was crackling clear; cave was equally clear with none of the usually perticulates in the water. The flow was minimal (for Hart). After the dive we threw most of the water lettuce up on the banks hoping a cold snap would kill it. Basin looks great without it.
12/20/2007 DogDiver 90 Wow, my first dive here. With the Suwannee so low, the path was firm and dry. However, a wagon would have been nice to get back to the spring. Newly installed steps and platform were nice additions.
12/11/2007 Anthony Strazzulla 80' The black lagoon was covered, but the water was very clear below. The flow didn't seem too bad. Dove to 1/3s upstream, then went about 50' downstream. Amazing cave! No sign of the gator.
11/21/2007 Ryan Eastman 100 The viz in the cave was very nice. The black lagoon was covered with lily pads, and we did not see the gator. Flow was moderate. Temps in the cave around 70, and the lagoon was slightly cooler.
6/16/2007 Scott Byars 80 Not much has changed from Rich's report... still fantastic. Very low flow.
6/9/2007 Rich 100 Lagoon was covered with lily pads and seemed to be gator free! Usual blackwater entrance but vis in the cave was spectacular, went upstream to the end of the gold line and then recalculated and went downstream. Gorgeous dive, definitely a must-do with the flow being down right now
12/31/2006 Eric Deister 70 First time in there, My guide was Jerry M. After a nice little hike back to the spring, we made a hole in the Lilly pad covered spring, viz was low in the cavern but opened up to crystal clear when we got to the main line. Went upstream to the end of the line and turned. The flow was pretty good and was great coming out allowing us to drift out and check out the goethite covered floor. If you ever get a chance dive this…
11/25/2006 Walter Pickel 75' Did a great dive here today as part of the NSS/CDS Fall In. Jerry Murphy was our guide. Viz in the basin was nonexistent but as soon as you popped into the system it went to about 75'. Nice to see blue water for a change vs. the normal yellow. The flow is DOWN and this is a great time to dive this system.
3/26/2006 Frank Lavallee 50' I made a dive there today. This was my second dive there since diving it for the first time last year. The last third of the trail was pretty muddy and covered with water, so we had to walk to the right of the trail between the trees to stay on dry ground and have solid footing.

Once we reached the basin, a white float marked the tree that the permanent line was tied to. Visibility in the basin was pretty good, as long as you didn't get the bottom stirred up. It was nice to be able to see what the winding descent to the main passage looked like for a change.

At about 65- 70' in depth, the water temperature made a drastic change from 62 degrees to 74 degrees and the visibility increased to 50' plus.

We explored both downstream and upstream for several hundred feet. The flow was manageable in most places and didn't require a lot of pulling and gliding or heavy exertion, even for this 60-year old cave diver.

We ascended back into the basin and into the much cooler water and made 2 decompression stops - 4 minutes at 20' and 19 minutes at 10'. The total dive time was 102 minutes. The mix used was EANx 32.
12/24/2005 SLIM 35-40 Guided bye Kelly. Black Lagoon is down but some mud spots on the path back. Covered with Duckweed. Sink is cold and dark.
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Description Type Date Author Remarks
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Sslect Search Radius:
System Depth Cave Cavern OW Last Report Distance (mi)
 Overview Information Available for Hart Springs - Little Hart  Hart Springs - Little Hart 80 True False False 8/18/2017 0.2
 Overview Information Available for Rock Bluff Spring  Rock Bluff Spring 65 True False False 5/10/2015 8.7
 Overview Information Available for Fanning Springs  Fanning Springs False False True 6/12/2011 6.2
 Overview Information Available for Otter Springs  Otter Springs 55 True False False 1/17/2011 2.2
 Overview Information Available for Sun Springs  Sun Springs True False False 11/14/2009 2.2
 Overview Information Available for Little Otter Springs  Little Otter Springs True False False 2.7