THE BLOG
08/06/2014 10:54 am ET Updated Oct 06, 2014

Florida's Secret Geography

Growing up in South Florida I wasn't exposed to much besides beaches and strip malls. I was raised with this notion in my head that Florida was just a boring, flat state with not much to offer besides humidity and Disney World. Looking back, my geographically limited childhood could be to blame for why I am now so inclined to get out there and travel.

After moving up north to Central Florida, I soon became exposed to some of the gems that Florida had to offer. From beautiful springs and vast rivers to dense forests and hilly fields, I was beginning to see a side of Florida that I didn't know existed. Now that I had gotten a little taste, I of course needed to see more.

After doing some research on hiking routes throughout the state, I came across some information on a few trails that featured caves along the way. At first I didn't believe it. Caves? Florida? No way. I couldn't imagine that Florida could be home to such an unbelievable geological formation. But after doing some more research, lo and behold, caves in Florida were a thing.

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Self portrait atop the entrance to one of the systems.

Maybe it was because I was just so used to the urban sprawl of South Florida that I found the presence of caves to be fascinating. Following the discovery of this information, I set out to go and find these caves for myself. A few hours in the car took me towards the hilly lands of the West Coast. After finding the trail head and beginning my trek, I was met with beautiful yet dense vegetation.

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A split in the Earth.

Almost out of nowhere this amazing rift appeared giving me a look inside. Though it didn't appear big, that opening was rather large. The view from inside looking up was even more extravagant.

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The actual cave entrance was slightly hidden. Nestled under a large oak tree, I had to duck beneath ground and over the roots to make my descent.

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Once at the bottom I was in awe. I really couldn't believe what I was seeing and the fact that I was seeing it in my own backyard. The cave that I found myself in broke off into two smaller rooms, both of which were pitch black and only accessible by getting down on my hands and knees. When I was younger I used to have this saying; "It wasn't a good day unless I got dirty" or something along those lines. Judging by the amount of dirt and mud that I was covered in by days end, it was safe to say that my day was a good one.

Further along the trail that I had started on more caves and systems were to be found. However, I decided to save those for another day. My adventure was complete for now and a successful one it was. I knew that there was more to be seen and I couldn't wait.

Interested in seeing some caves and caverns for yourself? Check out the Florida Caverns State Park! This park offers a more touristy approach with guided tours daily. Feeling more adventurous? Join a grotto! Florida has numerous groups throughout the state that are dedicated to the exploration and conservation of these amazing geological features!

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