Florida Nature

A Hole Hike in Gainsville

Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park

First Discovered back in the 1880s, this sinkhole is a National Natural landmark and has been drawing curious visitors ever since its discovery. It gets its name from its funnel shape that resembles a grain hopper, and because ancient fossilized bones were discovered there, it is a legend that the sinkhole fed bodies to the devil.

132 steps take you down 120 feet onto a viewing platform where you can marvel at this 500-foot wide natural wonder.

Sinkholes are a result of a collapse in cavities that have been created in the underlying limestone. When rainwater mixes with the carbon dioxide in the air, it creates carbonic acid. As this carbonic acid soaks into the soil and down into the limestone, cavities gradually form, and sometimes cavities grow into caverns. The earth’s weight above the cavern can become too heavy, resulting in the ceiling of the cavern collapsing.

Oak trees and spruce pines tower over the sinkhole, small streams trickle down the steep slopes, and inside the walls of this natural site grow orchids, needle palms, and other lush tropical vegetation.

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There is a 1/2 mile nature trail around the sinkhole’s rim that takes you on a short hike through a natural Florida pine forest landscape. Be sure to stop into the visitors center to view the exhibits explaining the site’s natural history.

Our Suggestion: This is an inexpensive – couple of hours attraction. View the sinkhole, walk the trail, and do have a picnic lunch under the shade of the trees. Picnic tables with grills are provided. The cost to enter is only $4 per carload, and the park is located at 4732 Millhopper Road in Gainsville. Park is open Wednesday thru Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. Closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Devil’s Millhopper Geological State park is an excellent place for you and your family to learn a little about natural Florida and after your half day visit here, continue your learning adventure by visiting the University of Florida’s Butterfly Rainforest and the Florida Museum of Natural History, just a short drive away.

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