The Leon Sinks - A part of the Apalachicola National Forest
By David Yon
The sinks are among my first memories of Tallahassee. When I first arrived here to attend Florida State University in 1974 and asked what the heck there was to do, "check out the sinks" was one of the first answers I got. Even though running was not part of my routine then, it was a great suggestion. Of course back then you could swim in them and there was virtually no environmental management. The result was lots of trash and damaging erosion. That is all gone now though and this trail provides a taste of some of North Florida's prettiest terrain. It is a fragile eco system and the swimming has been stopped, but if you stay on the trails there is much to see without doing any damage. There are 15 or so sinks in this park, some dry, but most with water. Many are connected by a network of underground caves that have taken the lives of experienced divers. There are some great overhangs from which to view the sinks and a geography lesson if you take the time to read the signs.
To get to the trail drive south on 319 approximately 5.5 miles from Capital Circle. The entry is clearly marked and is on the right. There is a $2 parking fee per vehicle at the trail head for Leon Sinks. This money is for a great, under funded cause! There are three trails that run through this park - the Sinkhole Trail, Crossover Trail and the Gum Swamp Trail. The park trails are well marked. The Sinkhole Trail and Crossover Trail combined are approximately 3.6 miles according to GWTC member and Forest Service employee Terry Tenold. He also informs us that the combined Sinkhole and Gum Swamp Trail is about 5.4 miles. The Gum Swamp trail can be muddy if it has rained recently, so wear your old shoes when you run. There are many sinks (including Big Dismal) and a lot variety in these trails. It may be hard to get more than 5 or 6 miles without running two loops, but it is perfect for those days you are looking for a short run. I suspect there are an endless number of "unofficial" trails located nearby in the forest.