December 20, 2016  •  29 Comments

Aucilla River Sink Autumn IIIAucilla River Sink Autumn III

Aucilla - since the meaning of this river's Indian name has been lost, I'll venture a guess as to its meaning: Peek-A-Boo River or Now-You-See-Me-Now-You-Don't... you get the drift.  The Aucilla River has the unusual feature of disappearing into underground caves again and again during the course of its run.  There is a great stretch of the Florida Trail that meanders along the course of the underground sections of the river and its sinkholes or "windows" into it.  I recently hiked the Aucilla Sinks Trail with Paul Marcellini. So this month, I'm featuring my photos from this walk, as well as shots I've made of other parts of the Aucilla River on past hikes and paddles.

Aucilla RocksAucilla RocksAucilla Sinks Trail with Crystal. 09-01-16. 11 am to 3 pm. clear day.

Tea-colored water typically fills the sinks. 

Off-the-Trail SinkOff-the-Trail Sink

In early December, we were nearly at the peak of our modest fall color.

Aucilla PanoAucilla Pano There are nice paddle runs on long stretches of the river as well.  (This shot was made during a severe drought, a rare time when the water was clear.)

Aucilla Fall PalmAucilla Fall Palm

Late Light on Half Mile Rise

Aucilla CypressAucilla CypressFrom west bank of Lower Aucilla River at moderately high water, including site of the rapids (now too high).

Water levels vary dramatically.  The more typical level is the line on this tree.

Aucilla RapidsAucilla Rapids

Several rocky rapids make paddling exciting at the right water levels. (This is high water just below the main rapids - a long exposure.)

Aucilla River PanoramaAucilla River Panorama Starting early is always a bonus for me and my work.

Aucilla River Sink Autumn IIAucilla River Sink Autumn II

Aucilla River Sinks Autumn


Bedrock. A former path of the river, now dry, exposes the underlying karst topography.

FlowFlowGoose Pasture through 'braided swamp' to confluence with Aucilla River. Then up Aucilla River 1 mile to Half Mile Rise landing. Final swallow-tailed kites at cleared land along Half Mile Rise road.


Floating RockFloating Rock

Floating Rock

Half Mile RiseHalf Mile Rise

Big Sky over Half Mile Rise

Aucilla River Sink Autumn IVAucilla River Sink Autumn IV

Sinks Trail.


Conjoined Roots

Water Colors 2Water Colors 2Aucilla Sinks Trail with Crystal. 09-01-16. 11 am to 3 pm. clear day.

Water Colors (An artsy rendition of reflections in a sink.)

Aucilla River Sink AutumnAucilla River Sink Autumn

Sinks in Autumn

Red-tailed Hawk HookedRed-tailed Hawk Hooked

Red-tailed Hawk. On one trip in very low water, Susan Cerulean and I found and rescued this hooked hawk who'd been caught in a trot line.

Merging WatersMerging Waters

Merging Waters.  The clear-watered Wacissa ultimately drains into the tannic Aucilla. The confluence is a magical place.

Live Oak ReachLive Oak Reach

The Long Arm of Live Oak.

Aucilla River Sink Autumn VAucilla River Sink Autumn V

Our recent hike was blessedly cloudy (for less contrast), but the sun popped out late, back-lighting the fall colors.

White Ibis PerchWhite Ibis Perch

Not a lot of wading birds here, but this ibis was happy to pose.


Corkscrew. The tree appears to be screaming from the giant vine's stranglehold.

Palm IslePalm Isle

The End of the River.  

Seemed appropriate to end with a shot from the mouth of the Aucilla at the Gulf of Mexico, a place of  beauty all its own. Hope you enjoyed this virtual tour, and that the New Year provides you ample opportunities to get out into the wilds.  


Please share this link with your social media and email friends and family. And leave a comment here if so moved --  I love reading them and am told they help get this post to new viewers.    



Really enjoyed the pictures! I just recently learned about the Aucilla River and wanted to see pictures of where it disappeared and reappeared. So interesting! Thanks for sharing!
Mike Jones(non-registered)
Thanks David for sharing your gems with us. You capture our precious and endangered aquifer and give us a view that we don't normally get. Ya'll are ambassadors for natural beauty and ecosystems and show respect for nature and its glory. Thank you so much!
Robert Gates(non-registered)
Thank you so much for creating this beautiful series of photos along the Aucilla River. I've enjoyed seeing them twice and will likely revisit later. I particularly liked the ones with "the modest fall color" and wonder in what month they may have been taken.
robert byerts(non-registered)
Like others I am inspired to go and see it. Thanks!
Trudy Thompson(non-registered)
Wow, loved it! I'm inspired to walk it very soon.
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