Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

The River by Land is a Pulpit Trail

Wednesday April 8, 2015
Florida Caverns State Park
Marianna, Florida



While David is out doing his blood draw in Marianna this morning, I do a load of laundry at the campground bath house.  $1.50 to wash, $1.00 to dry.  I love staying in campgrounds with laundry facilities and hoard my laundry, if I can, until we are camped at one.  I don’t really mind laundromats that much except that they tend to be a lot more expensive.

After lunch we hike the River and Sink trails which can be reached from the campground.  My favorite parks are the ones where I don’t have to drive my car.

This will be a different view of the river from the one yesterday.  It’s a nice wooded trail in the Upland Hardwood Forest I talked about in my first post from Florida Caverns. Not what you usually see in the rest of Florida.




Some sink holes are dry, and others are wet.  We even see one that still has metal trash in it.  No pictures of that one.



The light on this one makes it look blue and inviting for swimming but not a good idea.




We’re hiking along when we see we have just missed the trillium here too. DARN!





But then I spy these guys.  We haven’t missed the Jack in the Pulpit!


And there he is sticking his head out.




As we walk, we notice these piles of rolled sand balls.  Some are just hills but others are literal towers with a vertical tunnel going down through the center.  We don’t know what they are but they are all over the place.  

Later a ranger tells us they are made by the grasslands crayfish (crawdads in some parts)  not the stream- and swamp-dwelling kind. These crayfish rarely visit open bodies of water, preferring to spend their days in water-filled chambers three to six feet underground. Burrowing crayfish are seldom seen, exiting their burrows only in spring and summer on rainy or very humid nights to forage for food or search for mates. Their chimneys typically stand testament to wet ground, where the water table is very close to the surface.   That would certainly explain why we find so many on this River Trail.





We reach the river bank and  find large trees growing along it.  Testament to how long this river has been protected.   This makes me very happy.

The Chipola River begins in Houston County Alabama just north of here with Cowarts and Marshall Creeks which come together 6 miles south of the Florida Line to form the river.  I always thought a creek was smaller than a stream, that you could jump over a creek but had to wade across a stream, so I’m not sure how two creeks can form a river but perhaps it’s just a regional term.




We find a nice sitting bench for enjoying the sights and sounds of the river.  From here the river  makes its way to the Apalachicola River a total of about 50 miles from where it began in Alabama.




The river looks brown or green depending on the light.



We see some of the big cypress we paddled by yesterday.  The size of these trees is awesome in the true sense of the word.




The Chipola drains a basin of 781 square miles and has an average flow of 980 million gallons of water daily.  Water quality here is considered high largely due to the protection of the watershed.





Now that we’ve noticed the jack in the pulpit, we see it everywhere along the trail.  It is definitely the wildflower of the day.







It’s so tempting to poke a stick down into the chimney but that wouldn’t be nice.  Looks like a lot of work for a fella only 2-3 inches long.








Now what do we have here?   Boy do these orange beauties stand out. They are pretty seriously technicolor.  





So is this stunning butterfly.  He seems to be called the red spotted purple but he sure looks blue to me.




It’s gotten warmer and warmer all through the afternoon so when our short 3.5 mile hike is finished we head back to Winnona and put on our suits.  Time for a dip in the spring.  We can walk there from the campsite.  LOVE THAT!

Here’s the side you aren’t allowed to swim in.




And here I go into the side you are allowed.



FANTASTIC!   I have the whole place to myself.  Or I will until David comes in.







You just walk right out to the end of this floating dock and dive/jump into the cooling blue water.  It’s 35’ down so no problem hitting the bottom.





David says his feet sink if he just lays back.  He has to move his hands or kick his feet.  Not me, I just stretch out and it’s like lying in bed.



This is my kind of day with a walk along the river, a dip in the spring and then a walk back to the campsite starting between two springs.  We did a hike and had a swim and Ruby had the day off.



Tomorrow we’ll be going under ground to see how beautiful it is there. 
Temperatures are supposed to be in the mid 80’s outside so it will be great to be in the cool cave.


  1. The river looks so calm and peaceful - really pretty. I don't even like the word "sinkhole", and wouldn't want to be anywhere near one.

  2. No gators in the spring? Brave girl!

  3. Burrrr.... That water is way too cold for me. You two are very brave.

    We visited those caverns and thoroughly enjoyed them. Glad you're having fun.

  4. Another fabulous day! I love the jack in the pulpits and those funky looking crawfish towers!

  5. So much to see at ankle height with the low jack in the pulpits and the sand ball towers and the neon orange mushrooms - such an amazing contrast to the huge cypress trees. I'm sure the fairies must love it there! The pic of the back of the bench really draws me in. Sounds like the perfect place to be with the river to kayak and the trail to hike and the spring to swim in, and all within walking distance!

  6. Wonderful day for a walk and swim.

  7. I love seeing the varying vegetation. So different from the west.A relaxing day indeed. Holding you both in thoughts today as you wait for test results. POSITIVE THOUGHTS!!

  8. I am really not a natural water swimmer having grown up in swimming pools my whole life, but that beautiful blue water really would have pulled me in for sure. How pretty and you had it all to yourselves!! I was a competitive swimmer and a life guard but my husband says I would drowned if I ever got thrown into natural water...haha!

    I love the Jack in a Pulpit!! So very cute. Too bad you missed the Trillium. The pink are my favorite. Those little neon orange mushrooms really jump out with all the brown surroundings. And the crayfish mounts are so neat. Glad you found out what they are.

    It is always fun to leave the vehicle home and walk to where you are headed. Sounds like another wonderful day:)

  9. What a lovely place for a float :) Have never seen Jack in the Pulpit, very cool!

  10. We see jack in the pulpits here as well. It's an interesting looking plant.

  11. What a lovely day! Great hike, and those Jack-in-the-pulpit are beautiful. I think they're one of my favorite wildflowers. The turquoise water looks so inviting -- but I also wonder about gators in the springs. You certainly are in your element. That's a delightful photo of you in the water. :-)

  12. Send some of that water out here to California...it is looking pretty dry around here.

  13. What a great place for a swim! And you had it all to yourselves, too. I'm officially jealous! ;c)

  14. Love the Jack in the Pulpit:o))) The crayfish mounds are really interesting. Glad the weather warmed and the spring emptied just for you and David...what a glorious time in the beautiful water!!! Oh and I'm a floater too;o)))

  15. Looks lovely. I particularly like the walk-to-the-water part. Oh, the life . . .

  16. I noticed nothing after the Jack in the Pulpits. Haven't seen them since I was a kid.

  17. your pics of the Jack in the pulpits and the trilliums inspires me to stop at Big Foot park in Lake Geneva when I leave work this afternoon. It's Earth Day and I wanted to go somewhere but the weather is so awful I didn't think I would. It's not out of the way and I can step in to the trees to avoid some wind and see what's blooming. Swimming outside sounds absolutely decadent!

  18. Beautiful butterfly!!! Neat to learn about the sand chimneys and see the big trees! Lovely spot to swim indeed! That was definitely a pulpit trail!

  19. Lots of interesting stuff along the trail. My legs sink when I float, as well. I think it may have something to do with the different construction of men and women:)

  20. Mid 80's? You must be kidding. It is sooo cool and damp since we have arrived in Indiana. Please enjoy your temperatures for the four of us, OK?

  21. That Jack in the pulpit has eluded me and Im always jealous every time you post a picture of them. You looked like a child on a hot summer day cooling off in that inviting spring, big smile!
    The chimney that the grassland crayfish builds reminded me of the sand that the sand crabs spits out when burrowing in and out of their hole.


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