After I left Tom Merrill Recreation Area in Louisiana, I continued heading East. I took a secondary road from Interstate 20 towards Interstate 10. I spent a night in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in a Walmart parking lot. In the morning I continued driving east and I stopped in Alabama at a seafood restaurant for lunch. It was an interesting old building right on the water. The food was not as good as I was hoping for. The parking lot was packed and the restaurant was crowded. When my food came out it was not even close to what I ordered, but soon they brought the right dish. The service was excellent, but the food and was okay, but, I wouldn’t stop there again. It was near the Battleship Alabama, which I drive past almost every trip but never stopped at.
I continued driving east and stopped at the Florida Visitor Center to get a new State Park book. I asked the staff person there what state park has a campground not too far off the Interstate. I didn’t feel like driving 15 or 20 miles off the Interstate like I have for some state parks. She told me about a few of them and after reading the descriptions of a few I decided to stop at Falling Waters State Park which is about halfway between Pensacola and Tallahassee. It was only about 4 miles south of Interstate 10, and then about a mile further into the park from the entrance. Here is a link to Falling Waters State Park.
Here is an excerpt of what the State writes about this 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.”
This is one of the nicest and most interesting state parks I have been to, including those in other states. I had no idea when I picked this state park to stop in for the night that it was such an interesting park and that it had great trails to walk. Here is a link to the album of photos I took at Falling Waters State Park.
It only has about 22 camp sites, three of which are paved. The others are sand but look pretty level. Since the park was not filled to capacity, and the paved spots near the restroom were vacant, the park staff gave me one of those spots. The restrooms and shower houses are really nice and there are paved sidewalks to them. The shower rooms are large private rooms with toilets, sinks, showers, and mirrors. I really enjoyed taking a long, warm, shower after getting my campsite set up and eating dinner. I usually do not shower at night and when it’s dark but it was close to my camper and I felt it would feel good to be clean and have warm water wash over me. As I was walking on the sidewalk, I saw two pine cones which were about 8″ tall. I didn’t see any other ones that big.
I walked along the trail a while after getting to the campground, and it was starting to get dark and I was wearing sandals and the path was all sand and it was getting all over my feet. That’s part of why I felt a shower would be good at night.
Anyway, in the morning, I put on my sneakers and took my camera and walked the path which after a while took me to a lake with a sandy beach, grills, bathrooms, and a gazebo.
The sandy path then became a boardwalk that continued on through the park. It went to a waterfall, and past several sinkholes. Also, the park is harvesting the non native trees and reforesting the park with native long leaf pine trees. Some of the trees had long needles that were about 12″ long.
I was surprised when I came to a place along the boardwalk where there was a sludge pit and a sealed well head where there used to be an oil well from 1919.
I finally walked far enough and got to the waterfall. There were stairs that went from wood to metal walking down into the sinkhole near the waterfall. Walking down the stairs into the circle of the sinkhole, the further down I walked, the cooler the temperature got. There was lots of moss and plant life growing in this damp environment. The energy here felt really nice. I thoroughly enjoyed walking through this park. I would definitely love to come here again for several days. There are pictures in my photo album that would show clear print of the sign below, and there are signs I took of other points of interest along the trail.