Florida's High Country

The State of Florida lies completely within the Coastal Plain Province of North America and is not known for hilly or mountainous terrain.  Its highest point, Britton Hill (345 feet above sea level), lies within the North Florida Highlands of the Panhandle, near the Alabama border.

If one were to choose a classic "high country" region, however, it would be along the Lake Wales Ridge that runs north to south in Lake and Polk Counties (between Lakeland and Orlando); from this topographic and geologic ridge, streams flow into several of Florida's major watersheds.  To the northwest are the tributaries of the Withlacoochee River, which eventually enters the Gulf of Mexico at Yankeetown.  To the northeast, streams feed the middle portion of the St. John's River, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Jacksonville.  Directly west of the Ridge, several rivers (including the Alafia and Manatee) drain into Tampa Bay while, to the southwest, the Peace River and its tributaries flow toward Charlotte Harbor.  Finally, east and southeast of the Lake Wales Ridge, the Kissimmee River flows SSE to Lake Okeechobee (and thence into the Everglades).

While it may seem inappropriate to speak of high country in Florida, water sculpts all landscapes, even those with modest relief.  The highest point along the Lake Wales Ridge (Sugarloaf Mountain) may be only 312 feet above sea level but this central Florida upland feeds some of the largest rivers in the State.