FALLING WATERS STATE PARK
Huge trees and fern-covered sinkholes line Sink Hole Trail, the boardwalk that leads visitors to Florida's highest waterfall. Falling Waters Sink is a 100-foot deep, 20-foot wide cylindrical pit into which flows a small stream that drops 73 feet to the bottom of the sink. The water's final destination remains unknown. Only a few miles south of I-10, the park provides travelers with a quiet, serene stop on their journey. Visitors can see beautiful native and migrating butterflies in the butterfly garden, take a dip in the lake, or have a family picnic. Hikers can experience the verdant, gently sloping landscape of North Florida. Park rangers host interpretive programs in the amphitheater. Full-facility campsites nestled in a shady pine forest provide the perfect excuse for an overnight stay at Falling Waters. Located three miles south of Chipley, off State Road 77A.
The park?s history is colorful. During the Civil Was era, the waterfall provided power for a grist mill which was operated for several years by Duke Horne. After it was abandoned, timbers fell into Falling Waters Sink. Some of them were recovered in 1962 and are on display in the park. A whiskey distillery was once operated legally just above the waterfall and furnished the spirits for a wine shop established to meet the demands of men at the frontier railway construction site that was to become the town of chipley. An apparent earth fault in the area attracted a serious wildcat effort to find oil in 1919. The drillers, taking periodic samples, drilled past the 3,900-foot mark and got a blow of gas; but no oil in commercial quantities flowed and the well was capped and abandoned in 1922. Long before the grounds were donated to the state, the area was the site of a plant nursery. From the early 1920s until some time in the 1930s when the economic depression caused the nursery?s failure, non-native plants were taking hold. As a result, exotic species such as mimosa, Japanese privet and date palm can still be found.
The most obvious feature at Falling Waters is the sinkhole characterized by conical depressions with steep limestone walls where ferns and mosses take hold. Around the sinks and near the bottom of the hills, you can detect the slope forest with its well-developed, closed canopy forest of upland hardwoods on steep slopes and ravines. The trees found there are white oak, Southern magnolia, sourwood, American beech and flowering dogwood. Wild azaleas reach peak bloom in the spring. The upland pine forest rolls with widely-spaced pines, few under story shrubs and a dense groundcover of grasses and herbs. Broad, open areas encourage growth of fields of wildflowers such as meadow-beauty and Osceola?s plume. Fox squirrels, red fox, red-headed woodpeckers, bobwhite, quail, as well as many other animals inhabit the pine forest.
This 171-acre park has 24 campsites nestled in an upland pine forest. Each site has a picnic table, ground grill, and clotheslines. Water and electric are available and there is a dump station for your convenience. reservations for Falling Waters State Park can be made through the Florida Park Service's Central Reservation Sytem. If you are an energetic and gracious person who has the desire to provide hospitality and assistance to campers, Florida Park Service style, we have a job for you. Monitoring activities in the campgrounds and maintain the facilities and sites would be your duties in exchange for a campsite without charge for the duration of the agreement. If interested please contact the park office for further information.
The campground has a campfire circle and amphitheater for camper gatherings and summer interpretive programs presented by one of the Ranger staff. Spend the evening with a Park Ranger and watch a slide show at the amphitheater, or sit around a campfire and take in an interpretive talk and experience why the real Florida is so special. These programs are given on Saturday evenings and are free to registered campers.
The youth camping area is designed to accommodate organized groups of all ages, and has a capacity of 50 individuals. This camping area has two large fire rings, picnic tables, water, and an old fashion out house. It is located close to the lake area of the park in a hardwood forest. Fees for the youth area are per night per person (adult or child).
The park has a two-acre lake with a white sand beach. It is a great place to relax and get your feet wet. The swimming area of the lake is sectioned off for safety, and has a sand bottom. There are picnic tables, benches, and restrooms under shade trees. You can fish at the lake in designated areas with a Florida Freshwater Fishing License.