08/06/2014 10:54 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

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.

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.

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.


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.


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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