Leon Sinks, Apalachicola National Forest

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Sink holes and Florida, this usually brings to mind houses and cars being sucked up into the earth; however, it is a much more natural and usually less dramatic process than that. There is a large aquifer under much of Florida, made up of the swiss-cheese like limestone that has been eroded away. In some places, this water comes up in the form of beautiful natural, cold-water springs. In other places, it sinks down into the earth. Some of the most interesting geography exists right here.

Leon Sinks Geological Area is one park where visitors can get a glimpse of this process, just down the road from Wakulla Springs, one of the places the waters flow back up (but I’ll save Wakulla for another day’s post). It has 4.4 miles of trail (according to floridahikes.com) made up of two trails that can be done separately or in one big loop. One side has the trails that view the sinks, and the other side is swamp. (A swamp, unlike a marsh, is a wetland that supports woody growth such as trees–lots of them in Florida, and they are beautiful!)

There are two types of sinks, dry and wet. Dry sinkholes are large holes, and you often don’t know they are there without some geological help. Wet sinkholes are pictured on this page. The one below is called Big Dismal because it is huge!

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The ecology of the park is diverse. The swamp area has beautiful cypress knees. Higher up, long leaf pines begin anew in the sandy soil. And the sink holes provide more diverse wetland flora.

Leon Sinks is a good walk for families because the trail is well-marked and relatively smooth (bring out the jogging stroller); however, you’ve got to walk at least a mile in and a mile back out to get to see one of the big sink holes. There is a moderate, car-based fee for parking. This could be an excellent stop if you head towards Wakulla or St. Marks.