On the northern edge of Gainesville, the Devils Millhopper Nature Path showcases all angles of the primary geologic function in Devils Millhopper Geologic State Park, a 500-foot-wide, 120-foot-deep sinkhole.
Youll walk it up leading and into its depths along a 132-step series of stairs and landings to the bottom of this National Natural Landmark.
Resources for checking out the area
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Open 8 AM to 5 PM. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Leashed animals are welcome, however are not allowed on the staircase into the sinkhole.
There is a visitor center with an orientation film and washrooms, plus picnic benches out at the parking lot.
Beware of toxin ivy, which is common along the sides of the walkway. Except in winter season, mosquitoes are constantly intense here.
Location: GainesvilleLength: 0.9 mile loop/ 1.6 mile round-tripTrailhead: 29.705809, -82.394255 Address: 4732 Millhopper Rd, GainesvilleFees: $2 bicyclist or pedestrian, $4 per vehicleRestroom: at the interpretive centerLand supervisor: Florida State ParksPhone: 352-955-2008
Nearby destinations within a simple drive of Devils Millhopper.
From Interstate 75, take Gainesville exit 390 and head east into Gainesville on SR 222 for 3.4 miles, passing Santa Fe Community College. Drive 1 mile to NW 53rd Ave (Millhopper Road) and turn left. The park is on the right within a quarter mile.
A half mile in, you reach a bridge over a gorge that wouldnt watch out of location in the Great Smoky Mountains. It arches over a creek steeply downhill towards the sinkhole.
UPDATE 6/9/2019: This loop stays damaged because of damage to the bridge. You need to stroll out-and-back on the path in either direction to the bridge, now making this a 1.6-mile hike (formerly 0.9-mile loop).
This is the existing turn-around point as the bridge was damaged by Hurricane Irma (along with the stairs into the sinkhole) and its unknown when the park can pay for to replace it. Backtrack the way you came.
A short movie is offered in an open-air theater. The paved trail ends up being a hard-packed sand course under the hickory and loblolly pine.
Ferns and wildflowers grow lushly around the cascadesAs you drop deeper into the sinkhole, the landings afford much better panoramas of the within this unique world.
At 1 mile, a stone marker keeps in mind Devils Millhopper as a Registered Natural Landmark. The brand-new staircase down into the sinkhole starts just behind it with a boardwalk.
Deck at the bottom of Devils MillhopperThe final landing is a broad observation deck overlooking the bottom of the sinkhole. At the time we reviewed– the day this brand-new staircase opened– the sink was full of water.
, if the leaves arent too thick you can capture a look or two down into the sinkhole.
When the bottom has lots of waterAt the top, turn right for a fast walk over to the bridge over the gorge. Its blocked off from this end.
The wood forest is heavy on oaks and hickories, so when the leaves are on the trees, you cant see the sinkhole for the forest.
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You can definitely feel its presence, off to the left, where fencing prevents drawing close to the edge.
A few of the more uncommon species found down here are wakerobin, a range of trillium that blooms in late winter, and needle palms, which are more often discovered along humid spring runs.
Drive 1 mile to NW 53rd Ave (Millhopper Road) and turn left. The park is on the right within a quarter mile.
From the parking lot, follow the paved course past the ranger station and around the interpretive center, where several displays offer analysis of the geology and cultural history of the Devils Millhopper.
If the water level is high, youll hear the noise of running water, a great sign that youll see waterfalls later on in this walk.
Depending on the time of year and the leaves in the way, you can in some cases see the waterfalls along the far wall of the sinkhole. Theres no other method to go however up! Start your method back up the staircase.
There are regular benches along this topside nature path, so its not an obstacle for folks with restricted movement.
Devils Millhopper Nature Trail around the rimWhen you reach the T intersection, turn right, so the plunge down the sinkhole is the last part of the hike.
Along the rim of Devils MillhopperAfter a quarter mile, the path winds past an interactions tower and into a scrub forest, where silk bay and rusty lyonia are amongst the bigger shrubs in the understory.
Park Brochure (PDF) Park Website.
Bridge damage makes this an out-and-back hikeReturning back to the point where you first met the fence along the edge of the sinkhole, keep passing by the exit, following the fence.
Listen for the sound of water and look towards it to be rewarded with views of the various tall waterfalls that put out of the water table when water abounds.
They tumble down the rocky sides of the sinkhole behind the lavish plants and trees.
Leashed animals are welcome, but are not allowed on the staircase into the sinkhole.
Depending on the time of year and the leaves in the way, you can often see the waterfalls along the far wall of the sinkhole.
Reverse and follow the fenceline back to the walkway to the exit course to the interpretive center, reaching the parking area after 1.6 miles.
The boardwalk parallels the creek streaming into the ravine. The creek tumbles down a series of rock outcrops. Look carefully at plants on the ledges.
Its not always this way, but heavy rains this season can make it so. Stroll to the end of the observation deck to see the waterfall coming down the near side of the sinkhole wall.