In the heart of Georgia, the curious water that naturally flows from the ground of Indian Springs State Park has captivated locals and visitors alike for centuries. With a mere 650 residents, the surrounding town of Flovilla is more of a hamlet than a city. But as the home of Indian Springs State Park, this Georgia town draws flocks of visitors and regulars to its spring waters year-round.

The natural spring water smells — and tastes—potently of sulfur. Nevertheless, people continue to drink the water for the long-held beliefs of its healing properties. These understandings of the healing power of Indian Springs started hundreds of years ago with the Creek Indians that called this area home.

Find Mineral Water, Museums and More at Indian Springs State Park

A blue lake with green forestry surrounding it on a sunny day

Indian Springs is (Possibly) the Country’s Oldest State Park

Before the Europeans ever stepped foot on the land now called Indian Springs State Park, it was well tread by the local Creek Indians. In 1825, following a devastating Civil War between the Upper and Lower Creek Indians, as well as intervention from U.S. troops, the Creeks were under enormous pressure to cede their land and join the plantation economy. Creek Chief William McIntosh ultimately signed a treaty that traded all Creek territory in Georgia for land along the Chattahoochee River. Chief McIntosh would later be killed by other Creek Indians for failing to act in their interest.

As part of a compromise with the U.S. federal government in 1826, the land around the natural springs, including Indian Spring State Park, would be protected as public recreation areas. According to the Georgia State Parks, this agreement made Indian Springs State Park, “the oldest state owned recreation area in the country.” So while it wasn’t the first park to gain the title of “state park,” its history as the oldest public recreation area still makes this place special.

Hike or Bike your Way to the Dauset Trails Nature Center

From Indian Springs State Park, you can hike the 5.9-mile Indian Springs multi-use trail for a walk among the region’s southern hardwoods. If you’re looking for an interesting halfway stop, the Dauset Trails Nature Center has you covered.

Hikers will find classic Georgia flora like blazing azaleas, jack in the pulpits, and trilliums at the Dauset Trails Nature Center. With more than 20 miles of trails that can accommodate hikers, bikers, and horseback riders, it’s easy to spend an entire day at the nature center alone.

Dauset Trails started as a rehabilitation facility for injured animals. Today, the nature center still takes in orphaned and injured animals and protects them in exhibitions. Visitors can view the animals that the center has cared for prior to their release back into the wild along the rounded, half-mile Animal Trail. Dauset Trails has cared for river otters, barred owls, alligators, farm animals, and even cougars.

Keep in mind that the owners prohibit dogs in the nature center.

Explore More History At The Indian Springs Hotel and Museum

The Indian Springs Hotel & Museum with white beams and walls and gray roof

Just a couple years prior to signing away Creek Indian land to the Georgia state government, Chief McIntosh built the Indian Spring Inn in 1823. Today, the structure still stands and operates as a hotel and museum. The building claims the title as the only standing “antebellum Spring Inn” in Georgia.

Visitors can tour the Indian Spring Hotel and Museum on weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

The Mineral-Rich Water is Free to Contain and Take Home

aerial view of water spout pouring water into brown bowl held by person off screen

With all the hype around the homeopathic abilities of this natural spring water, it’s surprising that no one has attempted to bottle and sell the water. In fact, the opposite is true. Anyone is allowed to visit, bottle, and take some of the mineral dense water home with them for free. Some even claim that it’s the only water they’ll drink.

Around the park you’ll find stone structures, which were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Inside one of the open buildings — the Spring House–you’ll find a well with a spigot where you can fill up as many containers as you can carry of the Indian Springs water. The park places the actual limit at 25 gallons per vehicle, and prohibits the use of glass containers.

There’s Interesting Science Behind the Natural Spring

The belief in the mineral richness of the artesian spring is backed by science. A natural spring is water that naturally filters through earth layers, and becomes infused with chemicals and minerals in its underground pool.

Eventually pressure will force the underground pool to overflow, exposing it to the surface after passing layers of granite. These extra components in the water explain the spring’s eggy smell and milky appearance.

Are There Really Health Benefits?

Woman wearing gray shirt and purple braids drinks water from water bottle, with trees and colorful walls in the background

Ever since people have begun to drink the water, rumors about benefits have circled around locals and visitors alike, specifically that the artesian spring water helped treat digestion issues, gout, rheumatism, and even cancer.

In a 2017 article from the Jackson Progress-Argus, Sherri Ellington reported that a modern chemical analysis of the water revealed silica, chlorine, sulphur trioxide, carbon dioxide, sodium oxide, potassium oxide, lime, magnesium carbonate, aluminum oxide, ferrous oxide, manganous oxide, and phosphoric acid were present in the water.

According to a study conducted by researchers from a medical school in the Netherlands, these minerals present in the water, particularly magnesium, potassium, and sodium, in the right balance can have a favorable impact on blood pressure, and can benefit the function of many other bodily processes.

While there may not be a 100 percent conclusive answer today, the beliefs of many hold firm that the wealth of minerals in the water washes out toxins in the body and can even support healthy plant growth in the garden.

Camp Near the Healing Springs

Whether you choose to paddle through the wide waters or McIntosh Lake or splash around the shallow Sandy Creek, a foray into the dense forest of Indian Springs State Park is sure to be tranquil. And your trip doesn’t have to be confined to one day. The whole park spans 528 acres, so campers have access to 60 tent, trailer, and RV camping plots across that land. Ten cottages and a group shelter are also available for reservation at the local campground.

All campsites are equipped with electric, and fees for one night’s stay starts at $30. A sewage dump station, laundry facility, restrooms, and plenty of stone pavilions are also accessible. Fortunately, you can start planning your Indian Springs State Park for any season, as the park is open year round.

The enchanting, thick middle-Georgia forest has inspired couples to make Indian Springs State Park their wedding destination. While wedding parties are encouraged to stay at Indian Springs, the park officials ask that they notify staff ahead of time when reservations are made.

Madelyn Ottem

Madelyn Ottem

Madelyn spent seven years as a photojournalist in the Air Force. She has lived all over the world as a military kid and enlisted Airman, but no destination settles her soul more than the steely-blue Smokies.