Friday, September 08, 2006

Florida Waterfalls

If your idea of paradise is a narrow finger of sand covered limerock surrounded on 3 sides by salty water, you (should move to Italy and get the hell out of Florida ...just kidding .. sorta' ... ) will have to accept a few realities.

There are no mountains here, (I think Italy has mountains) and barely any hills. The highest point is a little over 300 feet above sealevel and it is dramatically higher than the rest of the state. Florida is barely out of the sea ...if you've ever done the "deadman's float" survival technique with only your nostrils and mouth above water ... that's Florida.

So there will be no sweeping views from atop lofty mountains (I hear the Alps are spectacular) while you are here visiting Florida. We are really shy on mountain accessories like cliffs and waterfalls too, (now, Italy ...there's a peninsula with great waterfalls ...) but if you get out there and really search, you can find a Florida fall or two.

Here is one.


This is Steinhatchee Falls on the Steinhatchee River. (Just shut up right now, mountain state people with waterfalls on steroids ... )

If you don't live in Florida (God bless you!) you just can't imagine how rare a waterfall is here. Our rivers are mostly tea colored, and sloooooow. It's the subtropics and they are in no hurry to go anywhere else. Lucky for all of us, the land along the river is owned by all of us, thanks to some well spent tax dollars.

On Labor Day, I took Jr., Kate, and good buddy Ty along for a day of exploration. We traveled through Dixie and Taylor counties searching for places seen on maps, but not yet experienced. That's where we found "The Road To Nowhere", but first we found the falls.


If you do live where streams rush about frantically, loudly announcing their presence long before you see them, you might be astonished at how quiet our Florida streams are. They're thoughtful, not frenetic.

So, we get pretty excited when we can actually hear rushing water south of the St. Marys River. I'm not sure the kids believed me when I said we were going to find a waterfall, but they were thrilled at what we found. The shoes came off and in they went.

One difference between a Florida waterfall and more northerly falls is you still can't relax your gator vigilance as the water on either side of the fall rocks is dark and deep.(There are no gators in Italy) A sign of how remote the falls are, is the fact that we had them to ourselves the entire time we were there... on a holiday weekend.


The knuckleheads clambered about, skipped stones (Ty was the master), and generally had a great time exploring something they usually only see on a vacation to the Smoky Mountains. After awhile, a thunderstorm came upriver and chased us back into the Jeep to continue our quest.


We left the falls as we found them and continued on in search of a place called Hagen's Cove ...

... but that's another post.

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Laura said...

Wow, I never knew we had a bonafide waterfall here in Florida. Just showed the pictures to my hub. I think we'll have to take a trip up that way. Can you tube on the river there?

Also... no hills in Florida? Could I differ with you? LOL.
I seem to remember quite a few big ones in g'ville. In fact, the Olympic track team with Grete Waitz stayed in Gainesville sometime in the 90's, training on the "hills" in Alachua county. :)

'course, if you're comparing them to the hills up north, then you'd win. But for this native flat Floridian, those are hills indeed. :)

roger said...

no gators in italy. exploring is fun. thanks for the inspiration.

Hurricane Teen said...

I love the way you linked the word "hell" to the Disney World site!!!!! That is seriously the hardest I've laughed in a long time! And it's so true...

Have you ever been to Big Shoals on the Suwannee River? There's class 3 rapids there at high water, and they're extremely dangerous because there are NO markings upstream warning boaters of rapids. But the ones you went to look nicer than Big Shoals because Big Shoals usually has a few people around.

Can't wait for the next post!

OldHorsetailSnake said...

That waterfall has to be about as tall as Florida's mountain, right?

Deb said...

Wow...and I thought Minnesota was flat!

And thanks HurricaneTeen, I never would have caught that myself. :)

Anonymous said...

me and dad almost went up their today and went fishing but we went to a lake in russo bye crystal river tmart

Floridacracker said...

I'm like you, I see sand dunes as hills, but I was comparing us to place with bigger hills. We have great hills around Pensacola, Gville, and near Orlando, but you know other states laugh when we call those hills.
I don't think I'd tube a dark water river like the Steinhatchee ... a little too gatory.

you are welcome.

Hurricane Teen,
Did I do that ;)
Yes, I know Big Shoals. Cool place.

Why yes, yes it is.

Is it really? I don't know why, but I picture everywhere else as hilly or mountainous.

Any fish?

The MacBean Gene said...

I wish you wouldn't have those ads for mountain homes in NC. Florida filled up with people so the overflow moved to NC. It would be cheaper to move to Italy than NC. Now NC is filled up with FL. people and they're moving up here. We have three couples from Stuart (FL.,not VA)and one from Sarasota on our street alone. All that flat land must be getting to y'all because Floridians are comming to our mountains and waterfalls like New Yorkers to Miami in March. :)

pablo said...

Geez, barefoot! Aside from common lacerations, aren't there parasites to worry about down there in the tropics? And shouldn't #1 Daughter be off at college or someplace by now?

Wayne said...

Well that's a very handsome waterfall, though I know what you mean about the slow brown rivers. I've been reading a little John Bartram, and one of the things I noticed was how he described southeastern rivers as pure and clear, definitely not brown and muddy. Their current status, and I see it all the time, appears to be due to soil erosion through development. He didn't mention Florida waterfalls though!

As for living in Florida (and I used to, and that may have something to do with it) - with all due respect - I can't imagine myself becoming sufficiently cold-challenged even to visit. This is actually good news.

Floridacracker said...

My Google Adsense ads read my site and respond with like ads. I find them amusing mostly, but vexing when I fuss about development and then get developer ads on my site. It's just the Adsense Bots reading and responding but it does make me wince when the type of ad you described pops up.
Trust me, I know NC/TN is filling with Floridiots. One half of me wants to apologize and one half is glad they're gone.

I feel your pain.

She still likes going places with her Daddy. Should I discourage that? She's commuting to college this first year. She and her friends have a carpool system. I'm in no hurry to see her move out, even tho I know ...

As for barefeet, you're kidding right? Not many parasites (maybe leeches) to bug you in these clean N.FL rivers. Now south FL canals ...that's another story.

Floridacracker said...

Most of these tea rivers are actually pretty clear, just dark due to tannins. Definitely not a muddy dark...speaking of FL, not the SE region.
Gee, it's okay to visit. I certainly like visiting GA around Blue Ridge. Mercier Orchards apple doughnuts and coffee in North Georgia on a fall morning. Sweet.

Wayne said...

FC - the tannin rivers are a different fish, that's true, although I haven't run across what Bartram said about it. Honestly it's very hard to read much of Bartram at any one time, and so I make slow progress.

As to visiting Florida - I've had a couple of very gracious invitations and I do visit my sister in Tallahassee. There's a little matter of driving anxiety attacks that I've meant to blog about, because they are quite interesting, but haven't yet, and that's all that keeps me from actual visits.

Nonetheless I've no temptation toward living there. If I hadn't invested in Athens already, I'd move still farther north.

Floridacracker said...

Are you reading John B. or William B.? Just curious.
Have you read Muir's "A Thousand Mile Walk To The Gulf".
Neat GA descriptions post CW.

Wayne said...

FC - it is John, mid 1700s. I haven't attempted Muir yet, but I will try it. I don't know if Bartram ever got down to Florida - we have Bartram Trails all around here.

I'm still not sure what makes these guys so impenetrable to me - the 18th century language is part of it probably - and there's also something about the extremely dense richness that just doesn't allow skimming.

Mrs. S said...

I still think Florida sounds more fun than Italy... but that could be just me.

We had waterfalls in Ontario, close to where I grew up, and maybe some day I will blog about our canoe getting dumped out at the bottom of one of them. Maybe.

Floridacracker said...

Mrs. S,
That would be a great tale!

William, son of John is one of my favorite travel writers. His walk through FL in the late 1700's is one of my favorite books.
Your right about the prose though.
Muir's book is neat because he walked through the post civil war south on a naturalists quest. He starts in the TN mountains, walks down to Savannah, across FL to Cedar Key where he meant to sail to S.America, but got malaria.
Really good tale.

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

Those pictures are absolutely gorgeous and you are right about those of us who live above sea level, we do have many waterfalls. But, we are still fascinated by them when we see one. We get very excited and want to jump right in.

I love the cold rushing water over the big round bolders in the Smokey Mts. too. We live 2 1/2 to 3 hours from there by car...longer if I drive my street bike.

Juli said...

Do landfills count as hills??

Floridacracker said...

Who doesn't like a waterfall?

The ones near Miami do.

Girl Gone Gardening said...

Holy smokes, thats not a waterfall!


Now, at least we have waterfalls in Indiana!! ;)

Floridacracker said...

I know, I know ... but it's all we've got! Have mercy!

andrea said...

I know this post is old... but im dying to go somewhere like this place... would you plz tell me how to get there? i live in south florida..

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Anonymous said...

There is a real waterfall in Washington County just outside Chipley. It's in a state park called Falling Waters. Of course when there has been no rain for months it dries up. I grew up a couple of miles away from it.