Florida Guide > State Parks
Devils Mill Hopper Geological State Park is situated 2 miles north of Gainseville, just off stste route 232.
You would just have to visit a park so named and indeed it is the only geological park in the whole of Florida.
The name is actually part derived from it's shape which mimics the hoppers used by farmers for grain. Ancient bones and bone remains were found at the bottom on the sink hole giving rise to the legend that people had been fed to the devil.
There is a 120 feet sink hole here and this was formed some where around 12000 years ago. A sink hole is formed when acid rain eventually seeps through the vegetation (getting stronger all the while) til it eventually hits limestone rock and eventually destroying it. This forms a cavern which in time falls in to create the hole.
This one is 500 feet across and 120 ft deep and there are 230 steps to get down to the bottom, where you will find the temperatures are considerably lower due to the many little water falls and streams which flow more or less continuously.
Normally this water drains away, but occasionally heavy rain fills it and in the nineties an extra heavy storm filled it to 30 feet; however, this drained away in less than a week.
Saturday is a good day to visit as the rangers are present to answer your questions and tell you all about the geological history. If there is a big enough group they will provide a guided tour (call ahead on 386 462 7905).
There is a trail that leads you round the sink hole for roughly half a mile. The vegetation is lush due to all the numerous streams and small water falls. Here you will see ferns, orchids and needle palms. Needle Palms only grow where there are sink holes or ravines.
Among the trees are Tall Spruce Palms, Swamp Chestnut Oaks and Live Oaks. You will see squirrels, rabbits and birds and may see deer and wild turkey.
You will be surprised to see that this park is bordered by houses; an incongruous meeting of the old and new. There are 3 distinct eco areas; Hammocks with low vegetaion, Sand Hill where the soil and fires ensure plenty of pines and Swamp which hosts all the vegetation which enjoy the wet conditions.
This park costs £2 and is open wed to sun only. The entrance is on an honour system. It is not suited to those in wheelchairs as the climb back up from the sink hole is challenging even to the fittest.
If you have time, visit the near by San Felasco Country Park.
Devils Millhopper Geological State Park
4732 Millhopper Road
Gainesville, Florida 32653
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Page added on: 4 May 2007
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