The Unique River Sinks

by: Doug Alderson, Outdoor & Nature Expert

A friend first took me to River Sinks south of Tallahassee in 1979. In waning afternoon light, we viewed the slanting sun rays as they struck azure pools of water, and we admired large pine and hardwood trees towering over the sinks. She swore me to secrecy that I wouldn't tell anyone about them. "They're special," she said.

In the 1980s, the manager of the River Sinks tract, the U.S. Forest Service, sought to trade the area because it wasn't contiguous to the main body of the national forest, making it difficult to manage. A group was formed, Save Our Sinks, and they helped to raise awareness about the uniqueness of River Sinks and their importance to the aquifer. Cave divers began to explore the underground connections and it was soon apparent that the nearby Leon Sinks was connected to River Sinks and then to Wakulla Springs. Most of the river sinks remained in public ownership, and it became apparent that they were special to a lot of people.

Eventually, the state of Florida bought the connecting tract between Leon Sinks and the main River Sinks tract. The tract extends across 319 on the west side, too, to protect more sinks.

On a recent hike through the River Sinks tract, my twenty-something daughter was my guide since she knew the trails better than I did. We gazed in wonder at Sister Sinks, also called Promise and Go Between Sinks. A narrow land bridge separates the two. Then we hiked to Keeney Sink, which is a favorite swimming hole of Cheyenne and her friends during warmer months. The sinks looked just as they did in 1979, with tall trees and little trash. The key is to have people hike in, like at Cherokee Sink.

The River Springs tract is easy to reach. Drive down Crawfordville Highway (319) about five miles past Capital Circle. About a half mile after the Leon Sinks Tract on the right, turn left onto CJ Spears Road. The parking area is immediately on the right. Signs mark a two mile loop trail through the state park property, but once on Forest Service property, the trails are not marked. It is best to go with a friend who knows the area or take a GPS unit. Occasionally, the Friends of Wakulla Springs organizes a hike through the area. So, check out River Sinks and see for yourself how special they are.



Doug Alderson. Outdoor & Nature Expert from Tallahassee, FL Author:

Doug Alderson

Outdoor & Nature Expert


Doug Alderson is the author of several books, including Waters Less Traveled: Exploring Florida's Big Bend Coast (University Press of Florida 2005), The Vision Keepers: Walking for Native Americans and the Earth (Quest Books 2007), New Dawn for the Kissimmee River: Orlando to Okeechobee by Kayak (University Press of Florida, 2009), Encounters with Florida's Endangered Wildlife (University Press of Florida, 2010), and his newest book, Wild Florida Waters: Exploring the Sunshine State by Kayak and Canoe (Earthways Press, 2011). Additionally, his articles and photographs have been featured in magazines such as Sea Kayaker, Coast and Kayak, Wildlife Conservation, American Forests, Sierra, Mother Earth News and Shaman's Drum. He has won several state and national awards for his books and magazine features. Doug also works as the paddling trails coordinator for the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails.

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