DEVILS MILLHOPPER GEOLOGICAL STATE PARK
In the midst of north Florida's sandy terrain and pine forests, a bowl-shaped cavity 120 feet deep leads down to a miniature rain forest. Small streams trickle down the steep slopes of the limestone sinkhole, disappearing through crevices in the ground, and lush vegetation thrives in the shade of the walls even in dry summers. A significant geological formation, Devil's Millhopper is a National Natural Landmark that has been visited by the curious since the early 1880s. Researchers have learned a great deal about Florida's natural history by studying fossil shark teeth, marine shells, and the fossilized remains of extinct land animals found in the sink. Visitors can enjoy picnicking and learn more about this sinkhole through interpretive displays. The park is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. Located two miles northwest of Gainesville, off State Road 232.
NATURE OF THE AREA
Squirrels, rabbits, and a variety of reptiles and amphibians can been seen when in the park. Birds of the pinelands and suburbs are also commonly sited.
HISTORY OF THE AREA
As a significant geological formation, Devil?s Millhopper is a National Natural Landmark that has been visited by the curious since the early 1880s. Researchers have learned a great deal about Florida?s natural history by studying fossil shark teeth, marine shells and the fossilized remains of extinct land animals found in the sink.
Devil?s Millhopper gets its unique name from its funnel-like shape. During the 1880?s, farmers used to grind grain in gristmills. On the top of the mill was a funnel-shaped container called a "hopper" that held the grain as it was fed into the grinder. Because fossilized bones and teeth from early life forms have been found at the bottom of the sink, legend has it that the millhopper was used to feed bodies to the devil. Hence, Devil?s Millhopper.
Florida sits upon a foundation of limestone rock. Although this stone is very hard, it can be easily dissolved by weak acid. Rainwater becomes a weak carbonic acid thru contact with carbon dioxide in the air. As it soaks into the ground, passing through the dead plant material on the surface, the acid becomes even stronger. When this acidic water reaches the limestone layer, small cavities form as the rock is slowly dissolved away. A large cavern is formed as this process continues over a long period of time. Eventually the ceiling of the cavern becomes so thin that it cannot support the weight of the earth above it. When the ceiling collapses, a sink is formed.
The sinkhole is 120 feet deep and 500 feet across. A one-half mile nature trail follows the rim, and there is a 236-step stairway to the bottom of the sink. The state purchased this site in 1974, and the stairs were completed in 1976. Until that time, access in the area was limited.
This is a popular spot for a quick escape from town for a picnic. Dogs on a hand-held 6-foot leash are welcome.
A one-half mile nature trail meanders along the top of the sinkhole, and a boardwalk system descends to the bottom of the Devil's Millhopper. Dogs on a hand-held 6-foot leash are welcome.
Pets are welcome in the park as long as they are on a six foot leash. They are permitted in the picnic area and nature trails.
Take I-75 to C.R. 222 (Milepost Exit 390 - Old Exit 77) and drive east 3.8 miles. At 43rd Street, turn left. At the next traffic light, turn left onto Millhopper Road. Park entrance is located approximately 1,000 feet on the right.