Florida Caverns State Park

Named for its underground wonders, Florida Caverns State Park provides access to the state’s only air-filled limestone cave. As mentioned previously, the Florida panhandle region is famous for its Karst topography in which the limestone bedrock is eaten away by the slight acidity of groundwater. This creates caves, which can eventually collapse into sinkholes. Further progression of this model though can produce caves, wherein the water seeps into bedrock and widens fissures over time causing a hollowing out. Additional seepage of groundwater into the created cave space then deposits minerals in the forms of stalagmites, stalactites, draperies, and more.

Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Flowstone and stalactites, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Flowstone and stalactites, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Underground pool, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Underground pool, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Draperies and stalactites, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Draperies and stalactites, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Multiple formations, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Multiple formations, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

After touring the cave, I began with the trails in the Bluff area, which travel through floodplain and upland hardwood forest. This forest area of the Chipola River Floodplain here mitigates erosion after rains by catching and depositing soil washed away from upstream. Barely 50 feet higher in elevation lies the bluff area of upland hardwood forest, a buffer zone between the saturated floodplain environment and the dry pine forests of the hills.

Bluff Trail, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Bluff Trail, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Me in the upland forest of the Bluff Trail, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Me in the upland forest of the Bluff Trail, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Chipola River floodplains from the bluff, Bluff Trail, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Chipola River floodplains from the bluff, Bluff Trail, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Chipola River floodplain, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Chipola River floodplain, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Tunnel, Tunnel Trail, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Tunnel, Tunnel Trail, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

From there I went to the other side of the park and hiked the two multi-use trails that were both primarily upland forest. In general they were less scenic than their bluff area counterparts, but had some nice features in the way of a few old-growth trees and a blue spring.

Fence Trail, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Fence Trail, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Sink Trail, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Sink Trail, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Cool orange fungus on tree, Fence Trail, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Cool orange fungus on tree, Fence Trail, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Blue hot springs, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

Blue hot springs, Florida Caverns State Park, Florida

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