Looking for a compelling wildflower walk? One of Florida’s showiest parades of wildflowers clings to the bluffs at Florida Caverns State Park.
I’ve always loved rocks. I learned to boulder-hop as a kid growing up along the Appalachian Trail, collected shiny sparkly rocks and put them on my dresser, and sought out rocky places to hike.
We don’t have a lot of those in Florida. But we do have one place where boulder-hopping and rock scrambles are front and center. It’s an amazing series of nature trails perched above the floodplain of the Chipola River in Marianna – the Bluffs Trail, Floodplain Trail, and Magnolia/Beech Trail at Florida Caverns State Park. Together they’re known as the Caverns Trail System.
The boulders and bluffs are enough to make this a compelling, rugged hike. Toss in Tunnel Cave – the only place in Florida with a hiking trail taking you right through a cave – and that clinches a visit. But even better yet: in late February and early March these boulder piles are busting out in an array of wildflower blooms that you simply won’t see elsewhere in Florida.
Start with trillium. It’s a flower of the Appalachians, and in fact is found in Florida all the way south to Gainesville. But at Florida Caverns, it’s peeping out between rocks and even poking through the saw palmetto, an unexpected juxtaposition.
Atamasco lily, also known as rain lily, blooms profusely along the Suwannee River and roadside along U.S. 98 in the Big Bend. But along this trail, it clings to boulders and even peers down from above the entrance to Tunnel Cave.
Now is the time to experience this showy array of color in the showiest of settings, the craggy gardens of Florida Caverns State Park.