A word both functional and vivid, employing a kind of yeoman poetry, steephead is the nearly vertical wall at the head of certain stream valleys. The wall typically bends in semicircular fashion to form what’s called a pocket valley or blind valley. At the base of the wall a stream is born, springing from underground pools that spill forth a headwater flow from seemingly secret beginnings. Steepheads are especially common in the sandy terrain of northwest Florida and extreme south Alabama and Georgia. Because of their distinct microclimatic conditions, steephead forests support an unusually large number of plants and animals.

Mike Tidwell