Another weekend has passed, and we all know what that means—another installment of Trips to Nowhere. This week’s trip is brought to you by the numbers 76 and 100, the direction North, and the color Green.
We find ourselves headed toward the little pastoral town of Chipley, FL. I know you’re probably wondering, what is a Chipley, and where is that? The answer is a small town in the Florida Panhandle. But let me pitch the trip to you, first, before we get into the who, what, where, when, and why.
76 feet high…100 feet deep.
Bustling with wildlife and rich in greenery.
Accessible to all person, young and old.
May I present to you…
The Falling Waters State Park!
If you were not tipped off the subtle naming, Falling Waters State Park is home to…wait for it…Florida’s tallest waterfall. Spectacular right? Totally worth the (gorgeous) drive north, right? Right! I totally agree. Wow, we have some much in common!
Okay, let’s get into the specifics.
As you will recall, in the first installment of Trips to Nowhere, we headed south…like all the way. It was nearly on a whim (you can read more about that here), and we grabbed lunch on the way down. Our itinerary was also, more or less, determined as we drove down. This week’s trip is a bit of a departure from that.
We settled on Falling Waters SP on Saturday, so the whim is still there. I mean after all, variety is the spice of life. This week we based out of Central Florida, so the drive to the panhandle was not nearly as impossible.
We also decided to pack our lunch. Saturday evening we popped to the store to grab some lunch essentials (bread, cheese, bacon) and this morning we packed up our supplies.
The nature of this trip disqualified Mix Master Lily, but she seemed pretty okay with the choice. Jack donned his adventure harness, we packed in our lunch and set off.
We had a couple of options for this trip. We could have gone with a heavy emphasis on the scenic route and taken Route One up from Orlando. This would’ve added about 1.5 hrs to our trip, with the maximum speeds being considerably lower than on the freeways or toll roads. So, we decided to take the turnpike up to 75, through Gainesville, and across the Panhandle to Chipley.
The view along the Turnpike, I-75, and I-10 are all ridiculously nice. If Florida does nothing else, it maintains its highways. I-10 has a massive solar farm along the side of the road, that is interesting to see, but it’s otherwise a very idyllic drive.
There is a timezone change, but it didn’t really make a difference. All in all, we spent about ten hours driving there and back.
Falling Waters State Park
If you know anything about Florida at all, you know that the Panhandle can get a bit…to say the least. So, first impressions were a pretty big point of interest for us as we pulled into Falling Waters State Park.
They were really, really lovely! Both the staff and the other park guests. After everyone briefly stretched their legs, we lugged our cooler over to one of the two covered picnic pavillions. The pavillions can be rented, but they were relatively unoccupied.
The park has social distancing guidelines posted throughout areas in which people may be congregating. People, from what we could tell, seemed to be abiding these guidelines and the bathrooms were cleaned while we were there.
Now we didn’t discuss this in the first Great Trip to Nowhere because the Keys had taken precautions to avoid crowds and iniated a mandatory mask order in covered buildings. There were a good number of families at the state park.
In addition to having Florida’s tallest waterfall, FWSP also boasts a decent size lake and campground. The lake and the campground were both decently full. On the trail, there were some pretty large family groups (8+ people), both from in town and out-of-state, but everyone was giving each other space.
There is a very short walk to get from the pavilion area to the waterfalls/sinkholes. The trail map seemed to indicate it would take ~45 minutes, but that didn’t really seem the case to us and we are not experienced hikers.
The trail to the Sinkhole and the Waterfalls are paved in some areas, and a boardwalk in others. There is protective fencing to keep visitors on the pathway. There are three overlooks for the waterfall–two above the falls on either side and one below the falls.
We didn’t get to go super close the falls because there was a huge family at the bottom taking photos, but in the overlook above the falls, there were some pretty good views. Further down the paved pathway, there are other sinkholes that have been filled with an overgrowth of foliage.
FWSP was a really awesome site, and while it wasn’t the most roaring of waterfalls, it was still a wonder because Florida doesn’t have a huge variation in elevation.
Where are you kids off to for your next adventure? We’d love to hear your stories!
Are you interested in getting out there? Florida has tons (I’m not kidding, it’s like over 6 million acres) of state and local parks. We named a few that aren’t too far from a major metropolitan area in 11 Digital Nomad Friendly Campsites in Florida that Won’t Break the Bank (Read here).
You can also visit Florida State Parks website (here). Their ‘Find a Park’ tool lets you search by park type, amenity, area, and activity.
Until next time, stay safe out there!
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