Number 19 on the Deployment Bucket List was to visit a state park that I had never been to before. I had lived in Northwest Florida for more than 20 years before I married the Army and moved across the country. But sadly, I had never visited many of the state parks in my area. I guess it’s just something you always think you’ll get around to and never do, but since it was on my list, I had to go to one, obviously! I chose to visit Falling Waters State Park in Chipley, Florida. Many of my friends have been camping here and had good things to say about it. I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. So, I sweet-talked my sister-in-law and baby nephew into joining us and loaded up the girls.
We drove the 40-minute trip along I-10 from DeFuniak Springs to Chipley. [According to Google Maps, it would take 1 hour, 19 minutes from Eglin AFB and 1 hour, 11 minutes from both Tyndall AFB and Fort Rucker, AL.] It was easy to find, I just typed the address into my phone’s GPS and it took us right to the park. (Address: 1130 State Park Road Chipley, Florida 32428)
There is an entrance fee into the park. We paid $5 per vehicle. However, it is only $4 for single-occupant vehicles and $2 for pedestrians/cyclists.
Falling Waters State Park covers 171 acres of land and boasts the highest waterfall in the state of Florida. It is also home to several sinkholes. These giant fern and moss-covered pits are visible from the boardwalk leading back to the waterfall.
Fun Fact: according to the internet, these sinkholes were once used as hideouts by the Native Americans during the Seminole Wars. There have been artifacts found in the park that date back thousands of years.
There are 3 short trails throughout the park. While, they may not be long (2 miles combined!), the trails are very hilly and the stairs had us huffing and puffing at times. No worries though, friends, it’s still an easy hike, I’m just out of shape!
We took the trail from the main entrance past the butterfly garden to the waterfall.
Falling Waters State Park’s main attraction, it’s waterfall, at 73 feet high, drops down into a 20-foot wide cylindrical ‘sink’. I was told before we went to the park that we might want to call ahead and make sure that there is water flowing over the fall. Apparently, in times of drought or low water table, the waterfall is little more than a trickle.
The day we went, there wasn’t a ton of water raging over the fall, but it was enough to impress the kids and show up in the pictures I took and that was enough for me! According to the park rangers, the waterfall is really a sight to see right after a heavy rain.
After snapping some pictures at the waterfall and enjoying it’s cool mist, we continued on the boardwalk to the lake for a swim. The kids had a blast swimming and playing on the sandy ‘beach’. There was even a ‘professional’ sand-castle-builder (apparently, that’s a thing now) there building an elaborate sand castle.
The lake at the park would make a good place to practice canoeing, kayaking, or paddle boarding. We saw several families letting their kids practice by themselves. It’s a fairly small lake and there are not any motor boats/jet skis to watch out for.
If I had been a more efficient and thoughtful trip planner, I would have brought a picnic for us to eat and plenty of drinks for the kids. There are several picnic tables at the lake. However, I’m rarely that thoughtful or efficient. So we had to drag the soggy, but thirsty kids out of the lake to go get something to eat.
We changed in the public bathrooms at the park (which I’m happy to add were very clean) and called it a successful day of state-park-seeing. [There are campgrounds at the park, if you want to stay the night and explore some more the next day.]
I highly recommend this park to anyone in the area. For a measly $5, we saw the tallest waterfall in the state and had a fun afternoon of swimming and hiking. That’s a good deal, in my book!
Have you been to Falling Waters State Park? What did you think?