Wakulla Springs a treasure in our backyard

Wakulla Springs is less than a half-hour south of Tallahassee.
Photo credit: Matthew Donaldson

Wakulla Springs is one of Florida’s many state parks. Its beauty extends beyond its exotic wildlife and cold waters.

It was founded in 1931 by a Virginia businessman by the name of Edward Ball. The spring was once the home to an indigenous group of native Americans’ who gave the land its extravagant name, Wakulla. The modern translation of the word has two meanings starting with the most commonly known: “mysterious waters.” It also has been translated as “river of the crying bird.”

The historical past of Wakulla Springs goes as far back as 12,000 years, suggesting that Paleo-Indians lived by the spring and were decedents of a people who crossed into North America from eastern Asia during the Pleistocene era.

With the abundance of historical presence in Wakulla Springs, it made the spring a hotbed for scientific interest starting in 1850 when the bones of an ancient mastodon were discovered at the base of the spring floor. Since the discovery scientists have identified the remains of nine extinct animals that date back to the last glacial period.

Scientists have recovered enough mastodon remains that they have rebuilt a full-size mastodon that can be seen at the Tallahassee Museum of Florida History.

Not only can you get an unlimited amount of history at Wakulla Springs, but there is an array of activities for family, friends and even just yourself. The park has a full lodge that includes a hotel with 27 unique rooms that contain vintage furniture giving visitors the option to stay in after a long day in the park.

Wakulla Springs has up to 9 miles of hiking trails running through the park. While entering the first trail, Dave Harris an avid visitor and hiker, was on his way out from his weekend three-mile hike through the park.

“Wakulla Springs is a fresh breath of air that I look forward to every weekend,” he said. “I’ve been coming here since I was a child and being on the trail or just in the park period gives me a sense of peace.” Commonly the trails are used as downtime in between waiting for boat rides that run every 30 minutes, a popular activity at the park.

Starting from 1875 glass bottom boat tours have been an attraction at Wakulla Springs.

Geo-seeking is a new, innovative activity at Wakulla Springs that allows people to go geocaching in their parks. Bret Marvs explained while inputting his location into his GPS: “It’s easy, it just requires the person to bring their own GPS. You use the GPS to locate treasure left by others in Wakulla Springs by inputting the coordinates given.”

Wakulla Springs is part of the Operation Recreation GeoTour that spans from Key West to the Florida Panhandle. If someone is one of the first 75 to visit 40 caches, they win a geocoin.