The Sunshine State is flat; some would say boringly flat. It struggles to have the spectacular waterfalls of some other states of the USA. However, the sight of water cascading down is one of the most spectacular things you can see. The waterfalls of Florida have been created because of depressions and sinkholes. In many cases, you will be above the waterfall looking down as the water heads away from you.
Florida has a number of state parks to maintain and preserve the natural environment. Tourists tend to head for the many entertainment centres that are in the State, such as Orlando. However, those who are interested in pristine natural environments should visit these parks and the waterfalls that can be found in some of them.
1. Falling Waters Sinkhole Trail, Chipley, Washington County
The two-mile trail in the Falling Waters State Park culminates in Florida’s largest waterfall, where water falls an impressive 73 feet.
If you follow the boardwalk, you will come to an observation point from which you can look down on the sinkhole which is 100 feet deep and 20 feet wide.
The park is a great place for exploring other small sinkholes surrounded by lush vegetation, ferns and huge trees.
Fishing and swimming are popular activities for campers who can choose from over 20 campsites.
If there has been rain, the waterfall is even more impressive than usual.
2. Morikami Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach
The waterfall in these Japanese Gardens is man-made, but it is nevertheless impressive.
The waterfall is called Roji-en, which translates as ‘’Gardens of the Drops of Dew’’. You would not be able to tell that it is man-made if you did not already know.
You can imagine yourself transported to Japan as you walk around.
It is a tranquil place where you can walk through bamboo groves and pine forests before coming across cascading waters as well as a lovely lake.
If ever you feel the need to relax and you are close by, head there immediately and just sit and enjoy the environment.
3. Big Shoals State Park, White Springs, Hamilton County
The impressive whitewater rapids in Big Shoals State Park do not provide the typical waterfall views.
Bluffs 80 feet high look down on the Suwannee River and from those bluffs there are lovely views over the park.
The park’s 28 miles of trails are great for trekkers and bikers while those enjoying white water rafting can expect to be confronted by Class III waters.
Only experienced kayakers and canoeists should contemplate taking on the rushing water.
Cycling, fishing and bird watching are more sedate occupations enjoyed by others.
4. Rainbow Springs, Dunnellon, Marion County
Rainbow Springs’ waterfall was built in the 1930s and has proved popular with visitors ever since.
Florida State manages the facility, having bought it in the 1990s.
The 3 man-made waterfalls in Rainbow Springs are certainly a major attraction for visitors.
There are excellent views of the waterfalls from the numerous trails that run around the region.
The vegetation is lush with impressive oak and magnolia trees while the waters are crystal-clear.
Facilities available for visitors include swimming, tubing and snorkelling.
All in all, it is a great place for campers and a popular spot for families.
5. Devil’s Millhopper Nature Trail, Gainsville
The trail around a huge sinkhole descends via staircases from which visitors get wonderful views of the waterfalls that nature has created.
This state park is a geological wonder within Florida.
As visitors descend the 236-step boardwalk going down to a huge sinkhole, 120 feet deep and 500 feet wide, they see a number of waterfalls flowing over the limestone rocks.
There is a pool at the bottom that is fed by 12 different springs, each of them a small waterfall that together creates a wonderful photo opportunity.
6. Disappearing Creek at Camp Branch, White Springs
The Suwannee River flows through Camp Branch before creating rapids and a waterfall that drops into a sinkhole.
Hikers taking the Florida Trail regularly see this impressive water feature as they walk around.
This is a conservation area that attracts visitors who enjoy the natural environment.
The ravines and bluffs provide great viewing points of the river with the total trail being around 7 miles long.
It means you should come prepared and you will certainly need comfortable footwear.
There is somewhere to eat at the end of the trail at Live Oak but take a sandwich with you as well as water and insect spray; you have been warned.
7. Florida Trail, Econfina Creek, White Springs
This hike of just less than 18 miles offers spectacular scenery, including bluffs and ravines looking down on fast-flowing water.
It finally ends up flowing into Deer Point Lake which provides fresh water to Panama City and Bay County.
There are rapids and small waterfalls along the way, a wonderful natural environment full of interesting bird life and natural vegetation.
Geologic features have been carved out of the rock by the waters.
Quite naturally, in fine weather you are likely to be joined by others on the trail.
8. Steinhatchee Falls, Taylor County
Florida’s widest waterfall is known as Steinhatchee, situated in a lovely spot that is both important in Florida’s history and a geological gem.
It is by no means the largest waterfall but it is located in an area of natural landscapes and mixed hardwood forests covering almost 1,800 acres.
If you walk the 3-mile trail you will see Steinhatchee and possibly some of the fauna that live in the region, such as tortoise, deer and wild hog.
Campers regularly stay in this district where they can enjoy canoeing and fishing.
Families enjoy the falls and its surroundings on a day trip.
9. Falling Creek Falls, Lake City
The boardwalk trail in Falling Creek Falls takes visitors to a small waterfall, with a drop of just 10-12 feet over limestone.
The water goes down into a ravine before disappearing underground.
The setting is lovely and with the boardwalk little more than half a mile long, it takes little effort to get there.
The facilities of picnic tables and a children’s playground do not intrude into the natural environment.
It is a great place for a family day out and covers just over 200 acres.
Interesting fauna is a further attraction for those who are hiking.
10. Lake Osprey Trail, Oscar Scherer State Park, Osprey
One of the newest trails in Florida is Lake Osprey, named as such because there is a chance of seeing these lovely birds as they fish.
There is an upland region from which springs emerge to produce fast-flowing clear water.
The trail is actually wheelchair-friendly.
A small lakeside beach near the Nature Centre is a great place to relax.
Swimming is allowed while others take to the waters for canoeing or kayaking.
The water is constantly fed by the springs so it is never stagnant.
11. Hidden Waters Preserve, Eustis
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A series of great trails in the preserve are a delight to trekkers.
An aerial view of the area shows a number of sinkholes with the largest being the Eichelberger Sink.
The terrain is very interesting with several steep slopes and erosion creating funnels down into the sinkholes.
In dry weather, the water may be merely a trickle.
When the weather is wet, the water gushes down ravines with some force, making a sound similar to thunder.
If you head down, you will find the Lake Alfred Trail and an expanse of water that adds to the attraction of the area.
12. Weeping Ridge Trail, Torreya State Park, Bristol
Torreya State Park is one of Florida’s oldest, dating back to the 1930s.
As well as the interesting botany and geology, it holds reminders of the Civil War, a plantation, Gregory House dated at 1849, and some interesting water features.
The waterfall has a drop of 25 feet with the volume of water pouring down dependent upon the season.
Rugged is the best description of the park with its steep inclines.
The trail itself starts near the car park and heads through the hardwood forest, ending at the waterfall.
The campground is at a junction on the trail.
You will see the power of water by observing how it has eroded the rocks over the years.
If it is wet, take care because those rocks can be slippery.