Falling Waters State Park Features Florida’s Tallest Waterfall
If you think all the waterfalls in Florida are horizontal think again. Falling Waters State Park is home to Florida’s tallest waterfall, a flowing stream that drops 73 feet into a 100-foot deep sinkhole before disappearing underground, perhaps into an underground river. Fed by a series of springs that form natural drainage cuts though the limestone bedrock, this natural geological feature is dependent on seasonal rains to give it its sometimes spectacular flow.
Sitting atop one of the highest hills in Florida, Falling Waters State Park is located a few miles south of Interstate 10 off highway 77 in Washington County. At 324 feet above sea level, Falling Waters Hill is only 21 feet shorter than Britton Hill, Florida’s highest point located in nearby Walton County. The hill’s limestone-base is riddled with underground caves and sinkholes, and the pine forest is home to wildlife which makes for some great exploring.
State Park Activities and Facilities
The Sinkhole Trail is partially paved and accessible with a boardwalk that leads to the waterfall past several sinkholes. It is a leisurely 45-minute walk through a hardwood hammock. A wooden stairway leads down into the sinkhole so you can view the waterfall from below.
The Wiregrass Trail is an easy 20-minute walk through pine flatwoods. It crosses one of the streams that feeds the waterfall and passes by an abandoned and capped oil well which was one of the first attempts in Florida to drill for oil.
The Terrace Trail is a 15-minute walk through a planted pine forest and leads to the camping area.
Prior to oil drilling, the area had a gristmill in the mid-19th century that was powered by the waterfall and ground cornmeal. In 1891 a whiskey distillery furnished spirits to the railroad workers who laid the tracks for the Pensacola and Atlantic Railroad as it passed through Chipley, Bonifay and DeFuniak Springs.
Falling Waters State Park is located at 1130 State Park Road three miles south of Chipley, Florida and about 28 miles east of Ponce de Leon Springs State Park. The park is open year round from 8 a.m. to sunset. Entry fees are $5 per vehicle with a maximum of 8 people. Pets are permitted in designated areas as long as they are on a leach no longer than six feet long. Camping is $18 per night plus tax and includes water and electricity.
If the weather has been dry, you might want to call the park to make sure the waterfall is flowing. When drought conditions persist, the falls is reduced to a trickle. Also, if you go in the warmer months, be sure and bring bug repellent. I was last there in the early spring, but the mosquitoes were starting to gather in the sinkhole even then. For more information call 850-638-6130.
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