Take the stairs down to the 120-feet-deep sinkhole at Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park! Located in Gainesville, Florida, this unique experience should be added to everyone’s Florida bucket list! Continue reading to learn why visiting this small state park is worth your time.
- Address: 4732 Millhopper Road Gainesville, FL 32653
- Driving distance from select Florida cities:
- Jacksonville: 1.5 hours
- Orlando: 2 hours
- Tampa: 2 hours
- Tallahassee: 2.5 hours
- Miami: 5.5 hours
- Hours: 8 AM to sundown
- Entrance Fee: $4 per vehicle
- Activities: Hiking, picnicking, interpretive exhibit
- Pet friendly: Yes
Why is the park called Devil’s Millhopper?
The park got its name from the funnel shape of the sinkhole which was thought to resemble a “hopper” which grain was fed into at mills. It was thought that grain was being fed into the Devil’s Mill at the center of the earth.
How was the sinkhole formed?
There are many different legends on how the sinkhole formed. One legend involved animals meeting the devil, their remains of fossils and bones were left in the sinkhole. Another legend is that a Native American was kidnapped by the devil. The sinkhole was formed to trap her rescuers.
While the legends are interesting to learn about, the sinkhole formed when limestone underneath it collapsed.
What makes Devil’s Millhopper sinkhole unique?
The sinkhole is 120-feet-deep and 500-feet wide. Additionally, a unique feature is more than 100 feet of rock layers exposed. As you descend the stairs the vegetation becomes lush almost resembling a mini-rain forest.
When I visited there was water present at the bottom that was bright blue which was a nice surprise! Depending on when you visit and recent rainfall the water level and color of water will vary.
How many steps are there to the bottom of the sinkhole?
There are 132 stairs to climb down to the sinkhole. At the bottom of the staircase there is an observation platform where you will get the best views of the sinkhole. The original staircase completed in 1976 included 232 stairs allowing you to climb further into the sinkhole. These stairs had to be rebuilt after damage from Hurricane Irma in 2017. The new staircase was opened to the public in 2019.
What else can I do at this park?
The sinkhole is the primary attraction at Devil’s Millhopper. However, there is also a small interpretive exhibit at the visitor’s center. You can spend some time reading more about the history of this park. Another popular activity is hiking on the nature trail. This trail is worth hiking before you leave the park. See more information below.
There is one short nature trail at this park. It is currently an out and back hike and is approximately 1 mile. This is a perfect hike for any skill level. There used to be a bridge that made this trail a loop that was closed in 2021 due to safety reasons.
The trail can be accessed near the steps to go down to the sinkhole and is primarily dirt.
How long should I plan to visit this park?
This 64-acre park can be easily explored in approximately 1-2 hours. Below is a park map.
What else can I do in Gainesville, Florida?
1. Visit more state parks
There are plenty of parks to choose from in Gainesville. I highly recommend checking out San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park. The south entrance to the park is only 10 minutes away and provides access to many hiking trails. Mountain biking is also popular at the northern park entrance located in Alachua.
Another popular Florida State Park in Gainesville is Paynes Prairie Preserve. There are over 30 miles of multi-use trails and two park entrances. The La Chua Trail is a popular out and back 3-mile trail with frequent alligator sightings. This trail is often partially closed due to high water levels. This park also connects to the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail which is 16 miles long.
2. Check out other popular parks
Other popular places for nature lovers include Sweetwater Wetlands Park, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, and Cellon Oak Park.
3. Grab a beer or enjoy lunch
In addition to parks Gainesville is home to the University of Florida. There are plenty of restaurants or breweries to grab a drink or bite to eat.
Check out this Gainesville Travel Guide!
Final Thoughts on Devils Millhopper Geological State Park
While small, this park provides a unique experience for visitors! I enjoyed climbing down the stairs to the observation platform to view the sinkhole up close. The nature trail also provides a quick hike to stretch your legs! If you enjoyed this post, be sure to subscribe to my e-mail list for more Florida outdoor adventures!
Looking for other Florida State Parks to explore?
The information above was accurate at the time of publishing to the best of the author’s knowledge. Information will be verified and updated periodically. If you are planning to visit, I recommend verifying the most current information with the Florida State Park website.