Visiting Florida's state parks and beyond in our Roadtrek. This is how we saw it all. Hopefully, the posts will give you some useful information. Questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Visit to Florida's Falling Waters State Park


A nice, quiet small park in the panhandle near Chipley, that has the tallest waterfall in the state of Florida.  There is a lot of reconstruction going on but we still got to see a lot.  All the more reason to return when it's finished.


Our site, #17, was a little different as it was two tier.  It is a larger one, level packed sand. The fire pit, another picnic table and clothes line were a little removed on a lower level. Plenty of shade.

The paved loop was more a windy road with a cu-de-sac at the end which has 4 sites and a campfire circle on it.  The sites seemed a little smallish, but a couple of big rigs managed to squeeze in.


The park roads leading to the campground and the recreation area are a hilly challenge.


Along the road neat 3-4' carvings decorate a few trees.  Here a Pileated Woodpecker...


...and a Horned Owl.

There are three designated trails in the park.  From the campground one can take the Terrace Trail to the lake that passes through a planted pine woods.  This area was harvested and replanted by a pulpwood company prior to the area becoming a state park.

The trail is conveniently terraced for ease of traversing or one can by-pass the terracing.

The trail is about a 15 minute walk to the lake and recreation area.

At the Falling Waters Lake and recreation area are plenty of picnic tables, two pavilions, a youth camping area, ranger fireside chat area, and restrooms and showers.

There is a very nice white sand beach and designated swimming area.  The water is still and brackish, and there are alligator and snake warnings.  But, that doesn't stop the kids.

Leaving the lake the trail meanders through more planted pines and turns into Wiregrass trail, a 20 minute walk through pine flatwood to the waterfall.

At one point you have a choice of dirt trail....

....or, boardwalk. It's a small park, you have time to take both.  There are plenty of boardwalks in this park.

Along the boardwalk is an abandoned, capped oil well, one of the first attempts in Florida to find oil.  In 1919, drilling started using a steam driven rig and wooden derrick.  Drilling ceased at 4912' with no viable commercial success.  The well was capped in 1921.

Further down the boardwalk is this trough-looking thing.  Talking to the ranger it is possibly the remains of a distillery that operated for the men working at a nearby frontier railway construction site.  There are also remains of concrete footers in the area from a Civil War era grist mill along the trail.

One of the springs and creeks that lead to the waterfall.


A small spring head adding water to the falls.  The water is coming out of the brownish muddy area at the lower right corner.  Very difficult to see the flow here.

The 73' falls from the boardwalk above.  The lower platform is being rebuilt and is closed off.  From there you can see the limestone sinkhole that the falls cascades into.  It is a 20' cylindrical 100' deep sinkhole.  The water then disappears into a cave at the bottom.

The top of the falls.  There had been a long period of rain in this area and we expected to see more flow.  But, we were not disappointed in seeing a small flow.  Maybe, next visit.

Below the falls and close by is the sinkhole trail. It is a boardwalk trail allowing visitors to see the sinkholes.  This trail takes about 20 minutes. Or more if you are taking photos. 

There are many sinkholes along the trail.  None had visible bottoms.

At the recreation area is a small butterfly garden....

.....and a bat house.  There are about 18 species of bats in Florida. Four of the species will use a bat house.  Care to invite a bat colony to your yard?

An inhabitant of the butterfly garden.  Zebra Swallowtail.

A Cardinal visits the campsite.
Some interesting flora in the park:

Last fall colors.


Long Leaf Pine

Flaming Azalea 


Gray Beard, or Fringe Tree 

The back side of the entrance sign.  Very colorful illustration of the waterfall.

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