Florida is flat, there is no way to deny it. Whereas other regions of the United States sport mountains reaching over a mile into the sky, I’m thrilled to find even low-lying hills in our state. That’s one of the many reasons Ravine Gardens State Park strikes a chord in its visitors: two ravines up to 120 feet deep!
My friend Katie and I weren’t sure what to expect when we arrived; what does a 120-foot ravine look like in Florida? The park includes a 1.8 miles driving loop, and we opted to roll through it in the car in order to spend more time at the overlooks and in the ravine itself.
We climbed down on the promising-sounding Nature Trail, connecting to another trail below. The vegetation looked green and lush, Sable Palms and even bamboo fronds creating a dense canopy. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds zipped from the available wildflowers, resting daintily on thin branches above our heads.
Down, down, down we descended, the slope and trees beginning to form a half-roof above. Suddenly, near the beautiful suspension bridge, the trees fell away and a meadow of blossoms swayed beside the path. Katie and I discovered the thin stream that created the small valley, tracing it to the springs bubbling up with both grace and force. A wooden bench faced the water, and I fervently wished I had a book to pass the day away in this secluded spot.
Following the stream, we found that the water widened into a calm pool, covered with green aquatic plants and turning a whimsical wheel. Another smaller, arched bridge crossed one section of the pond, adding to the dreamlike quality of the park.
Katie and I visited Ravine Gardens State Park after an intense, three-day training, and had begun our trip tired and hot. However, after each new discovery, from the suspension bridge to the spring to the idyllic pool, we found ourselves more and more energized. By the end of the 1.8-mile loop, we buzzed with excitement. Though only 146 acres, the park encompasses dozens of natural wonders all year around.
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About Erika: Erika Z. is a writer, birder and photographer living and working along the Emerald Coast of Florida. Her love of the outdoors and sense of adventure leads her to explore Florida’s state parks, state trails and historic sites in her free time.