The fountain of youth

Our last day in Florida found us searching for the fountain of youth at Ponce de Leon Springs State Park. Named after the Spanish explorer who set off for Florida in 1513 to find that magic fountain, the springs’ temperature stays at 68° all year. I was amazed to learn that it produces fourteen million gallons of water every day!

Following a short hike along Sandy Creek and Spring Run, I stuck my feet in the water to see if it would work some magic on my poor, tired tootsies. There were no miracles to be had. My feet just got pruny. Following this failed experiment with the fountain of youth, I opted not to immerse the rest of my body. It’s wrinkled enough as it is!

We had planned to start for home after visiting Ponce de Leon but our Airbnb host recommended we visit Falling Waters State Park. After my summer spent chasing West Virginia waterfalls, it seemed fitting to visit Florida’s tallest waterfall. Despite the recent rain, the waterfall itself wasn’t all that remarkable. What was super cool was climbing down a wooden stairway to the opening of a deep cylindrical sinkhole in order to look up at the 73 foot cascade.

I was unable to get all of this unique waterfall in one picture.

Being just a few steps beyond normal, I liked that the final destination of this falling water is unknown. It gurgles into a crevice at the bottom of the sinkhole and journey’s on! I like to think that it goes to Ponce de Leon and burbles to the surface as a spring but, if that were the case, I’m sure those wiser than I would have figured it out long ago. Also, I can’t imagine that waterfall producing anywhere close to fourteen million gallons a day!

Another outstanding characteristic of this state park is the boardwalk that showcases huge fern covered sinkholes and large trees. The hike there, less than a mile long, was described as challenging because of the hilly terrain. Sorry, Florida. If you want to see real hills, y’all need to visit West Virginia!

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