Goethe State Forest was named for Mr. J.T. Goethe, from whom most of the land was purchased in 1992 under Florida's Conservation and Recreation Lands (CARL) program. Using sound forest management, the Florida Forest Service provides for multiple uses of the forest resources. The forest is managed for timber production, wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation and ecological restoration.
The main area of Goethe State Forest is located in the southeastern portion of Levy County near the Gulf of Mexico. A smaller area of Goethe State Forest, called Watermelon Pond Unit, is separate from the main tract and is located in both Levy and Alachua counties.
Goethe State Forest has more than 15 different natural communities. A few examples are scrubby flatwoods, dome swamp, sandhill and basin swamp. Goethe State Forest may contain the largest tract of contiguous, old-growth longleaf pine flatwoods in the state.
This extensive old-growth forest has one of the largest red-cockaded woodpecker populations on state lands in Florida. Other rare animal species found on the forest include the Florida black bear, gopher tortoise, Sherman's fox squirrel and bald eagle.
Many natural communities and their inhabitants are dependent on fire for their very survival. Prescribed burning is one of the most effective tools used in managing Goethe State Forest. Prescribed burning helps maintain native plant and animal species composition and prevent uncontrollable, devastating wildfires.
The Goethe trail system extends throughout the forest with access available at three separate trailheads. The forest is open during daylight hours for visitors to enjoy picnicking, hiking, bicycling, fishing, wildlife viewing and horseback riding. All horseback riders must have proof of current negative Coggins test results for their horses when on state lands. Overnight camping is allowed by permit only. However, private campgrounds are located near the forest. Goethe State Forest contains two hiking trails (Tidewater and Black Prong) that are included in the Florida Forest Service's Trailwalker Hiking Program.
Goethe State Forest is open to regulated hunting and fishing under the direction of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). We encourage non-hunting recreationists to check FWC's Goethe Wildlife Management Area regulations and season dates before visiting Goethe State Forest. In 2010 FWC added hunting zones in the Watermelon Pond Tract of Goethe. For more information, download the Watermelon Pond Wildlife and Environmental Area [ ] publication.
In keeping with its mission to protect and manage Florida's forest resources, the Florida Forest Service has developed rules that apply to all state forest visitors. Find out more about state forest fees and rules.