Among the more popular north Florida cave dives, Little River is strategically located between Devils Eye and Ear and the Ichetucknee Jug Hole, and sites such as Peacock and Cow Spring. Depths throughout most of the cave are 30 m/100 ft or less. One of the most interesting features occurs in the first 60 m/200 ft, where you descend an underwater corkscrew to get to the main part of the cave.
Getting to Little River is absurdly easy. You just head north out of Branford on US-129. Three miles later, you will turn left at County Road 248 and continue another two miles to the spring.
The turn off is marked by a green sign on a pole. You can also see power lines overhead as you approach (there is a substation at the intersection).
Arriving early is best — especially weekends. Past 9:00 all the best parking spots will be taken by nondivers and the water will be filled with swimmers and snorkelers.
Diving Little River
A feature unique to Little River is that, to reach the point at which the cave levels off to a largely constant depth, you must descend a corkscrew-shaped tunnel. You begin by going straight in and down at a 45-degree angle, then level off at around 18 m/60 ft to go around the corkscrew — and then descend again down a steeply sloping tunnel.
Depending on water levels, depths in most of the cave average around 27-30 m/90-100 ft. This increases the likelihood of decompression, even with Nitrox.
Little River consists primarily of one main tunnel, with a few offshoots and bypasses. On the way to the “split,” divers have the option of bypassing the main line by way of the Mud Tunnel (although most of the mud has long since been swept away by diver traffic).
At 275 m/900 ft, however, the main line actually divides, giving divers a choice of continuing on by way of the Serpentine or Merry-Go-Round Tunnels. The tunnels re-join at the start of the large Florida Room.
Just past the end of the Florida Room, divers can take offshoot tunnels to the “New” and “Old” Deep Sections, where depths can approach 27 m/120 ft or more. In the same neighborhood is the start of the Small Creek Tributary, a low, silty tunnel that has been explored out to beyond 1,400 m/4,500 ft (this is a very advanced cave dive).
Continuing on the main line, divers reach the Dome Room, where the cave bottom goes up and over a substantial sand breakdown pile. At this point the nature of the cave changes dramatically.
Instead of large, rocky passageways, swept clean by current and diver traffic, the cave becomes low and wide. Here a thick layer of mud and silt covering the floor. If you have scootered to the Doom Room, park your DPV and take it no further.
By swimming carefully, and avoiding silt outs, you can continue on to the Well Casing. This is exactly what it sounds like — a point at which a local farmer sunk a well to take advantage of the crystal clear water flowing below his property.