Leon Sinks Loop
ElevationAscent: 117' 36 m
Descent: -119' -36 m
High: 71' 22 m
Low: 16' 5 m
GradeAvg Grade: 1% (1°)
Max Grade: 5% (3°)
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“An easy three mile hike between many sinkholes.”— Justin Hammond
Family Friendly Great place to get the kids outdoors and experiencing nature. An easy hike for any child 5-6+
- This hike can easily be completed in under two hours, including time to enjoy the scenery and views
- Although swimming isn't allowed at Leon Sinks Geological Area, the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park and several nearby beaches make a nice post cool-down afterwards.
To begin, hike a short distance along the Sinkhole Entrance Trail to reach the Sinkhole Trail. Turn right to start a counter-clockwise loop that's just shy of three miles when combined with the Crossover Trail (as mapped) or four miles with the Gum Swamp Trail.
You'll soon pass by a series of dry sinks (sinkholes that have not sunk enough to reach the aquifer). Cone, Turner, Palmetto and Big Eight are a few of the roughly dozen dry Sinks on the trail. Some have spur paths that can be traversed down into them, others have steeper sidewalls, preventing visitors from venturing down. The ground rises and falls around these Sinks, and while quite easy, provides the most difficult part of the hike.
A half-mile in, you'll encounter the first wet sink. The views of the aquifer-fed Hammock Sink are excellent! From the boardwalk's position just a few feet above the water, the steep wall of rock across the pool towers above the deep blue water. Depending on the position and reflection of the sun, you may be able to see down into the sink as the ground slopes away toward the entrance of a cave hiding beneath the surface. Note that swimming is now allowed, no matter how inviting the water seems on a warm day.
Continuing a short distance up the trail brings visitors to area's largest sink, Big Dismal. The sheer sides of this deep sink drop 75-100 feet from the viewing balcony to the water below. Covering an area larger than a football field, this immense sink may strike a touch of fear into those who peer over the edge.
Further on down the trail, past Magnolia and Black Sinks, you'll come to the Lost Stream. This creek runs below the trail as it disappears into the ground, only to reappear a few yards away, having made a journey underneath a naturally formed bridge. This is one of the great examples of the karst, limestone bedrock that has been made porous by ground/rainwater, upon which much of North Florida is built.
Just a short distance from here is the west junction with the Crossover Trail and Gum Swamp Trail. Heading straight onto the Crossover Trail will shorten the return distance back to the trailhead and there are a few more dry sinks before reaching the conveniently placed boardwalk that leads over Center Swamp. Here, Cypress trees cast eerie shadows in the late evening.
Past the boardwalk is another junction with the east end of the Gum Swamp Trail and the Start of the Sinkhole Trail. Look for the optional Gopher Hole Spur Trail. A bit of scrambling up a seemingly out of place boulder reveals a "Gopher Hole" at the top from which the water in the sink below can be glimpsed. Once back on the main loop, make the short return trip back to the Sinkhole Entrance Trail and return to the trailhead.
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ADA Accessible, Flora & Fauna, History & Background
Land Manager: USFS - Apalachicola National Forest Office