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Visiting The Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, Gainesville, Florida

Updated on November 22, 2016
FloridaFacts profile image

Since completing university, Paul has worked as a bookseller; librarian; and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.

The boardwalk, Devil's Millhopper, Gainesville, Florida. It is quite a steep descent and reasonably physically demanding coming back up.  The boardwalk might not be suitable for an older person or someone who is physically disabled.
The boardwalk, Devil's Millhopper, Gainesville, Florida. It is quite a steep descent and reasonably physically demanding coming back up. The boardwalk might not be suitable for an older person or someone who is physically disabled. | Source

If you have never experienced the Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, Gainesville, Florida, then I would certainly recommend going.

It is a great place to visit for families, groups, couples and individuals of any age, although it does mean walking up and down some steep steps if you wish to go down into the sinkhole, which may not be suitable for some people.

The Devil’s Millhopper is a limestone sinkhole, essentially an enormous cavern that has eroded and collapsed, leaving a deep, bowl-shaped cavity.

The geological feature has a depth of 120 feet. There are 12 springs flowing down the walls of the sinkhole, some of them forming mini waterfalls.

Because of its depth and shade, the base of the Devil’s Millhopper remains relatively cool, no matter how hot or dry it is up at ground level.

The combination of water and sheltered conditions means that the vegetation in the Millhopper is always lush, resembling a miniature rain forest.

History

The Devil’s Millhopper has been a North Florida landmark for over a hundred years and curious people have been visiting it since the 1880s. In the mid 1970s wooden steps and boardwalks were constructed, making it easier to descend into and ascend from the sinkhole by foot.

Fascinating remains of Florida’s natural history have been found in the Devils Millhopper, including ancient sea shells, and the fossilized remains of shark’s teeth and extinct land animals.

The sinkhole got its name because its appearance was thought to resemble the hopper of a mill and the bones in the base were thought to be from animals going down to visit the devil.

Another view of the boardwalk that leads down into the sinkhole.  There are numerous places to stop and catch your breath or admire the view.  You will also notice that the temperature change slightly as you descend.
Another view of the boardwalk that leads down into the sinkhole. There are numerous places to stop and catch your breath or admire the view. You will also notice that the temperature change slightly as you descend. | Source

How Sinkholes are Formed

Sinks are essentially collapsed underground caverns.

Florida rests on a foundation of limestone, which is hard, but susceptible to weak acid which dissolves it over time.

Rain water mixed with dead vegetation can form a weak acid as it soaks into the earth. The limestone underneath can be dissolved gradually. Initially small cavities form, but eventually these can join to form one huge cavern.

The ceiling of the cavern can eventually collapse, if and when it becomes too thin to support the weight of the earth above it, forming a sink.

A marker4732 Millhopper Rd, Gainesville, FL -
4732 Millhopper Road, Gainesville, FL 32653, USA
get directions

The paystation, Devil's Millhopper, Gainesville, Florida.  Entrance fees Fees at the time of writing are $2 for each pedestrian or bicycle, and $4 for each vehicle.
The paystation, Devil's Millhopper, Gainesville, Florida. Entrance fees Fees at the time of writing are $2 for each pedestrian or bicycle, and $4 for each vehicle. | Source

Directions and opening times

The Devil’s Millhopper is at

4732 Millhoppper Road

Gainesville

Florida 32653

(see map above)

Telephone (352) 955-2008

The park is open from 9 to 5 from Wednesday through Sunday.

It is closed all day Monday and Tuesday.

Nature trail at the Devil's Millhopper Park.  As well as exploring the sinkhole, the park is a great place for exercising your walking legs and experiencing nature.  The main trail goes around in a circle back to the visitor center.
Nature trail at the Devil's Millhopper Park. As well as exploring the sinkhole, the park is a great place for exercising your walking legs and experiencing nature. The main trail goes around in a circle back to the visitor center. | Source

Entrance fee

There is a pay station on the way in.

Fees at the time of writing are $2 per pedestrian or bicycle, and $4 per vehicle.

The money is important revenue for the park and helps with the upkeep and running of this beautiful public place.

The visitor center at the Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park.  Inside you will find lots of information on the sinkhole displayed in the form of interpretive displays, such as a geological explanation of how the sinkhole formed.
The visitor center at the Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park. Inside you will find lots of information on the sinkhole displayed in the form of interpretive displays, such as a geological explanation of how the sinkhole formed. | Source

Other facilities

There is a visitor center between the parking lot and the entrance to the sinkhole where you can find out more about the geology and history of the Devil’s Millhopper through interpretive displays.

The visitor center also has restrooms for use of visitors to the park.

A picnicking area is nearby and there is also scenic nature trail that curls through the pine forest that makes up most of the Devil’s MillhopperState Park, which I would certainly recommend if you fancy a stroll.

© 2013 FloridaFacts

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