September 2021 Update: Falling Creek Falls – Lake City, FL

(Please click on photos to enlarge)

I visited the falls in late September, and the creek was running strong and high with very turbid discharge. Turbidity is the measure of the clarity of the water, indicating the level of suspended solids such as clays and silts. An increase in turbidity is most often seen after heavy rains, as surface drainage flows into the stream, carrying sediment eroded from the land surface.

Very heavy foam at the base of the falls, a phenomenon I had never seen before. The foam is caused by dissolved organic matter deposited into the creek by increased sediment loads. The DOC is a surfactant, reducing surface tension, much like dish soap. As the water is stirred up by the turbulent falls, DOC attaches to the bubbles, forming foam on the surface.

Meanders downstream of the park and across NW Falling Creek Rd.

During this visit I tried to find the swallow hole where the creek disappears underground, before reemerging and flowing into the Suwanee River. I left the park and crossed NW Falling Creek Rd, and followed its course north of Dicks Rd. Slashing through the thick undergrowth and swatting away the swarming mosquitoes, I found the creek flowing very slowly northwest through wide, flooded, well-defined meanders, the water nearly stagnant. I eventually had to give up the search as the vegetation became too thick and the banks too steep and muddy. A small boat would have been my best bet to follow the meanders and find where the creek ends.

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