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.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Florida's Falling Waters SP Deja Vu

Just south of Chipley, this small state park boasts the tallest waterfall in Florida. We returned in hopes that the waterfall had more water flowing and enjoy some quiet time. There are 22 sites for RVs, 2 tent only, and a large wooded area for youth/group camping.  Well laid out. It is a well kept, quiet park with a large day visitor area with beach and playground. The bath house is part older, but clean, with 2 new family/accessible rooms. Friendly, helpful staff.   

The sites range from big rig to small rig. We were in #12 this time which had partial shade, was level sand/gravel and, like all sites, has 50/30/20 amp service plus water, of course. This was a small, but very private site due to the shrubbery and distance between the other sites.  This visit was the first time we were in a campground where no RVs had lights of any sort in the site. Really dark. Nice.  Good for stargazing. There are 6 pull- throughs. Some sites a little close together, but tolerable due to shrubbery.

The campground road is paved and has a sort of loop or cul-de-sac at the end to turn around and exit. For some of the sites it is easier to pass your site, make the loop and go back to your site for easier entry from the opposite direction.  Ours was an example of that although with our Class B, making a big turn in reverse was not difficult.
The entrance road to the campground is one big hill climb. Last year I was able to bike up it rather easily. This year not so. Hmm. The road to the day area, beach and playground is not so steep.

If you are a day visitor the trail head is at the parking lot for the playground and picnic area. Most of the trail mileage is boardwalk and concrete paths.  You can step off the boardwalk path in 2 areas to take a short dirt hike. To the right is one of those dirt trails. To the left is a concrete path leading to the waterfall and the Sinkhole Trail.

Along one of the trails lies the capped drilling shaft from an attempt to find oil in Florida circa 1919. After drilling 4912 the project was abandoned, the hole capped in 1921. Adjacent is the remains of a sludge pit where all the by-products of the drilling process were dumped. The sludge traveled down a trench to the stream feeding the waterfall, ending up in the aquifer.
If you are camping, the trailhead is at the cul-de-sac and is a dirt trail named the Terrace Trail.  Note the sign: No drinking and hiking.

  While the terracing is nice it is easier to follow the water eroded path along side. For me.  Awkward steps. 

The view along the Terrace Trail which leads to the lake. Many long leaf pines.

Partridge Pea flowers along the trail.

Pretty, but unknown to me.

A visitor to the flower.

The Terrace Trail ends at a 2 acre lake created to enable consistent flow to the waterfall. At the same time it provides visitors with a white sand beach, swimming area and fishing area. Very well maintained, the area has a bathhouse, pavilion, picnic tables and a covered bridge with benches.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail hangin' at the beach picnic area.

Two-spotted Skipper, same place.

Saw this at the creek near the beach. Don't know what it is..yet. About the size of a pineapple.

Haven't ever seen one, but there are rumors of alligators. Just saw turtles.

Continue past the lake on a concrete path known as Wiregrass Trail. Here is one of the dirt trails one can take from the lake to the waterfall if boardwalks bore you.  The terracing here is done by Mother Nature. Over the hill it follows a small creek flowing to the falls where it rejoins the boardwalk. About .3 miles.

But, continue on the concrete path, Wiregrass Trail, and it turns into a side boardwalk along a ravine to the waterfall.

Down the steps to the waterfall observation decks. There is an upper and lower deck.

A Blue-tailed Mole Skink on the boardwalk. A Federally Threatened lizard that dwells in parts of Florida. A rare find I've read. Interesting coloring. As they age the blue tail turns to a pinkish hue. Their diet is cockroaches. Every Florida home should have one.

I was trying to get a shot of this Ebony Jewel-winged Damsel Fly when it came too close to a spider web. In a nano-second the spider came from nowhere and wrapped the struggling fly. By the time I pushed the shutter button the fly was wrapped and the spider heading back to the corner of the web. So quick.

This is the damsel fly on the railing before it made its fatal flight.

 On to the falls.

Approaching the falls from the boardwalk. There are two observation decks. One gives a view from the top, the other about half way down toward the sinkhole.

The falls are fed by three small creeks. They can be seen as you walk the dirt trails. The falls are the tallest in Florida, 73 feet, and fall into a perfectly cylindrical sinkhole. This is called a solution pipe. There are quite a few in Florida, but this is the only one easily accessible.


The water then flows an unknown distance to the aquifer.

Nice little rainbow and fern lined walls of the Falling Waters Sink.

The upper deck has a bench overlooking the stream and falls. Mesmerizing, like a campfire or ocean waves.


The falls were home to a grist mill during the Civil War and a distillary thereafter. Concrete footers can be seen along the boardwalk.

One trail we missed this time due to reconstruction for accessibility, is the Sinkhole Trail.  It is a .3 mile boardwalk loop circling several "bottomless" sinkholes and a chance to view a superb forest. The sinkholes here are funnel shaped. Next to one sinkhole outside the loop is a massive Southern Magnolia.

As you leave the sinkhole trail and waterfall you arrive at the day park and playground. At this entrance is a small butterfly garden created by a local Boy Scout troop.


Spicebush Swallowtail


Palamedes Swallowtail

A tiny newt.

Gulf Fritillary


Horace's Duskywing

Duskywing Skipper. Variety?


Golden Silk Orb Weaver. The female is 5 times larger than the male sitting upper left. There are many of their webs along the dirt trails. We had a massive one guarding the entrance to our campsite.  It was high enough for us to enter under it.

The very nice large day visitor park. Playground, restrooms, pavilions, picnic tables and grills.

And there's a bat house. Actually several. Great for bug control. They have modernized them since we were here last. Urban renewal.

Walk from the parking lot there is very windy concrete trail that leads back to the beach.

Or take a road that leads to the group/youth camping area. Room for plenty of tents.  There is available water, and an area for group campfire and ranger interpretive sessions. Follow the trail through the camp area and you end up....at the beach.

New growth from a recent prescribed burn along the road to the day park area. The burn took place only three months ago. Prescribed burns are scheduled about every 2-3 years here to reduce undergrowth and encourage regrowth of native plants.

A current project at the park is removal of all the non-indigenous loblolly pines that were part of a plantation before the state acquired the property. This area is adjacent to the campground. Once the debris is cleared the reintroduction of native grasses and longleaf pines will be performed.

No tree art, but some post art. Tried to contribute, but corks don't hammer into posts too well.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Overnight at Leon County's Coe Landing


A favorite stop-over when heading west or visiting the granddaughter at FSU. This county park is just west of Tallahassee. It is the end of a usually uneventful 5 hour drive on the back roads for us.  We used to stay in site #7, a back-in, but have changed to #11, a pull-through. Both are on the lakeside part of the loop and well shaded. See my previous blogs on this park.


Nice and quiet, shaded, and rarely crowded. Aged, but clean bath house.
Twenty sites with 30/20 amp and water. Level gravel.  Six have a lake view, and two are pull-through.

The "inside" sites are spacious, private by distance and level gravel.

Early morning calm at the campground dock. This must be the camp host's boat. It is always here. And, so is he. Strict, but nice guy.
A new dock this visit. Private lot adjacent to the park.

Cormorant drying off after morning fishing. Seems like he's always here, too.

Blue Dasher dragonfly sips some water from the moist gravel.

In Florida hidden danger almost always means....gator is present.

 Nice pavilion for the day visitors.


 And a short boardwalk gives a good view of the swamp between a portion of the lake and a play area .

A well built boat ramp. This is well used in the early morning and late afternoon. Fishing the lake is big time here. There is ample room to fish, also.

Fish from your boat...

...or the pier near the pavilion.


Someone left us a painted rock overnight.