Florida is one of the more difficult states to find waterfalls (though apparently North Dakota is even more difficult). There aren’t many significant drops in a state where the highest point is only 345′ above sea level! Two similarly named falls, Falling Waters Falls and Falling Creek Falls, are two of the more impressive waterfalls. There’s at least one other waterfall that’s easy to find, though it requires that your definition of waterfall be as expansive as possible…no height requirements, drop requirements, etc. Just the fall that water is naturally falling!
Steinhatchee Falls is upstream from Steihnatchee, Florida. In terms of geography, it is right in between the two other falls mentioned above. If you designated a whole day and were willing to drive some distance, you could hit all three falls, though it would be best to do this after a good rainfall. If you had to skip one, Steinhatchee Falls would probably be the one (though it did have more water flowing than Falling Water Falls, which I visited at a later time). I think the biggest drop is about 1′, not much more than that! I will say, though, that the scenery around the falls is particularly beautiful. There’s a park right nearby the falls, and on a comfortable day, it would be a great place to come for a picnic. It’s rather isolated, so it doesn’t get that crowded, though there were three or four other people there when I visited.
From US-19/98/ALT-27/(County-55), turn onto FL-51 and head southwest. If you’re headed north along US-19/98, it would be a left turn onto 51.
Head south along 51 for 1.75 miles Steinhatchee Falls Road and turn left.
You will be posed with two options after a short distance. Turn right and head to the end of that road, which leads you right to Steinhatchee Falls.
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: not applicable
I made a special trip just to try and see Falling Waters Falls, and I succeeded…well, mostly. With the highest point in Florida being only 345′ above sea level, there just aren’t many chances for waterfalls in the state. I’ve found two before (including the surprisingly impressive Falling Creek Falls). I visited Falling Creek Falls, which is not nearby Falling Waters Falls, last December, and there was just enough water flowing to make it worthwhile. My visit today to Falling Waters Falls, though, was a little bit more disappointing, only because there wasn’t much water flowing over the falls.
While Falling Creek Falls is maybe 5′ or so tall, Falling Waters Falls is 73′ tall. Even without much water flowing, I was truly intrigued by the sinkhole that had formed because of the flowing water. It is a pretty big drop! The sinkhole may have been more interesting than the falls itself, at least today.
So it would definitely be worth visiting the falls if you live in the area. What about if you don’t live in the area? Well, if you’re enjoying the beaches that are not terribly far away, it should be. But visit when there’s been some rain. It doesn’t help there really aren’t any other falls nearby, either. There’s a waterfall known as Hidden Falls about 60 miles away in Haleburg, Alabama, but when I drove there, there was fencing blocking any obvious path. Even with the lack of waterfalls, I still enjoyed the sunshine and warmth, considering it’s about 40 degrees colder in Michigan right now.
From I-10, take the exit for Chipley. There will likely be a sign for Falling Waters State Park.
Head south on FL-77 for a mile or so to State Park Road (Country Road 77A). Turn left onto State Park Road.
Follow this road to the entrance. I only paid $4 for entry, and then drive to the parking area. The hike to the falls is very short.
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy, though not wheelchair accessible)
Length of Hike: 0.3 mi round-trip
The upper portion of Falling Water Falls (in December 2012)
I think I have spent more time trying to figure out if there are any significant waterfalls in Florida than actually visiting waterfalls in Florida. It’s difficult, since Florida is so flat. When you do a search, you will most likely find Falling Waters Falls in the Panhandle, which is the obvious winner in the Florida waterfall contest. By pure determination and hunting through Google’s images, I found at least two other waterfalls: Steinhatchee Falls and Falling Creek Falls.
Falling Creek Falls was actually WAY more impressive than I expected. And that was all due to lowered expectations. Of the pictures I had seen, I was expecting an EXTREMELY small waterfall. Now, I know it’s all relative, but at 5 or 6′ tall, it was much taller than I expected. And that can often lead to much more happiness than over-expecting, only to be let down. So, to say the least, I was thoroughly pleased, and wondered why this wasn’t advertised more. Florida is beautiful and sunny, but it often seems monotonous, at least geologically speaking…so it seemed nice to find something a little more out of the ordinary. It also helped that even though it was nearly the beginning of winter, in this part of Florida, it had a very September-ish feel, at least to a Michiganian.
This little gem of a waterfall is not very difficult to find. At the junction of I-10 and US-41 north of Lake City, head north on US-41 for a very short distance, only about 0.2 miles.
Right off of US-41 is Falling Creek Road. Turn right onto Falling Creek Road, and head down to the park.
At the park, follow the beautiful boardwalk to the falls (to your left).
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy, I think a wheelchair could even do this.)
Length of Hike: 0.6 mi round-trip