The Best Hiking Trails with Waterfalls Around Tampa, FL

Blue hammock binded on a tree
Blue hammock binded on a tree | Unsplash | Macie Jones
Diann Johnson

Florida may be a peninsula, but it has a lot of island qualities—white sand beaches, tropical coconut palms, and colorful hibiscus. Its flat terrain isn’t like its mountainous cousin Hawaii, but one surprising thing we share are waterfalls. Here are five of the best places to hike next to a waterfall in and around Tampa, but be sure to go during the rainy season to see the best results. Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

Falling Waters State Park

Falling Waters State Park has the tallest waterfall in Florida. The area is known for sinkholes and caves, and this contributes to the park’s unique topography. The Sinkhole Trail is an elevated boardwalk that leads to this impressive 100-foot-tall (30 meters) waterfall. Come during the rainy season for the best flow. The park lies in the Florida Panhandle, just south of I-10 in Chipley, a five-hour drive from Tampa.

Falling Creek Falls

Falling Creek Falls is a 10-foot (three-meter) waterfall, easily accessible by a half-mile (0.8-kilometer) boardwalk trail. The path continues past the waterfall for an acoustic walk near rapids. The park is a short detour from I-10 at US41 and is a 2.5-hour drive from Tampa.

Rainbow Springs Falls

People swimming at Rainbow Springs, Florida, USA

Rainbow Springs Falls is an impressive man-made attraction located in Rainbow Springs State Park. The park’s first claim to fame is its springs, but it was also a private park in the past with three man-made waterfalls along a paved hiking trail. The park offers tubing, swimming, and hiking, and these are the closest waterfalls to Tampa, within a 1.5-hour drive.

Steinhatchee Falls

Steinhatchee Falls, on the Steinhatchee River in the town of the same name, is the widest waterfall in the group. This trail is the longest at three miles (4.8 kilometers) but rewards with the sound of rushing water, oak hammocks, and forests. It is a three-hour drive from Tampa.

Big Shoals State Park

While Big Shoals might not be classified as a typical waterfall, it is a horizontal one. When the Suwannee River is high—between 59–61 feet (18–18.5 meters) above sea level—this turbulent river qualifies as Class III Whitewater rapids. Hiking along the half-mile trail provides the calming sound of rushing water. This park is a 2.5-hour drive from Tampa.

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