Withlacoochee State Forest

Location | Natural Features | Recreation | Contacts

Withlacoochee State Forest is currently the third largest state forest in Florida and is divided into several distinct tracts of land. Using sound ecosystem management, the Florida Forest Service provides for multiple-use of the forest resources which includes timber management, wildlife management, ecological restoration, and outdoor recreation.

The size and diversity of Withlacoochee State Forest provides visitors with a variety of natural communities, wildlife and recreation activities to enjoy. Withlacoochee State Forest was acquired by the federal government from private landowners between 1936 and 1939 under the provisions of the U.S. Land Resettlement Administration. The U.S. Forest Service managed the property until a lease-purchase agreement transferred the property to the Florida Board of Forestry in 1958.

Location

Withlacoochee State Forest's location provides convenient access for many visitors since it is within two hours driving time from Cape Canaveral, Orlando, and several other points of interest. The State Forest is located in west central Florida with headquarters located on U.S. Highway 41 approximately seven miles north of the town of Brooksville and 50 miles north of the city of Tampa.

Map with Trailhead Locations:   

Location map of the tracts in Withlacoochee State Forest. Link to map of Homosassa tract on Withlacoochee State Forest Link to map of Citrus and the headquarters tracts on Withlacoochee State Forest Link to map of the Two-mile Prairie tract on Withlacoochee State Forest Link to map of the jumper Creek tract on Withlacoochee State Forest Link to map of the Croom tract on Withlacoochee State Forest Link to map of the Richloam tract on Withlacoochee State Forest

Natural Features

Withlacoochee is an Indian word meaning "crooked river" which accurately describes the river as it makes its 70-mile journey from the Green Swamp in northern Polk County to the Gulf of Mexico at Yankeetown. Withlacoochee State Forest has several waterways which flow through different portions of the property. The Withlacoochee River, Little Withlacoochee River and Jumper Creek have all been designated as Outstanding Florida Waters. The most notable is the Withlacoochee River which meanders through 13 miles of the forest.

A variety of tree species create dense woodlands and canopy trails. Species found on the forest include: slash pine, longleaf pine, pond cypress, bald cypress and a mixture of oak, maple, southern magnolia, gum and hickory. Springtime forest visitors will be delighted with the colorful blossoms produced by the abundance of wildflowers. Flower varieties such as goldenrod, thistle and blazing star can be found along state forest roadways. 

Wildlife is abundant and there are a number of species that are listed as endangered, threatened or species of special concern. Bald eagle, fox squirrel and gopher tortoise may be seen along with white-tailed deer, wild turkey, rabbit and gray squirrel.

Recreation

Declared as one of the "10 Coolest Places You've Never Been in North America" by the World Wildlife Fund, Withlacoochee State Forest is a haven for the outdoor enthusiast. Activities include miles of trails for hiking, bicycling, horseback riding and canoeing. Seasonal hunting is available throughout most of the forest and fishing is plentiful on Withlacoochee’s many lakes and waterways. Several campgrounds are available and feature full-facility, primitive or group camping areas. Croom Motorcycle Area provides 2600-acres of off-road facilities for motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Several day use facilities are located throughout the forest and provide areas for picnicking and wildlife viewing.

 The Withlacoochee State Forest Visitor’s Center is open daily for visitors to obtain brochures and maps. Contact us for:

  •  Trail brochures
  •  Current trail conditions
  •  Trail closures during hunt seasons, special events, prescribed burns, flooding, etc.
  •  Contact information for trail groups offering guided tours of trails

In keeping with its mission to protect and manage Florida's forest resources, the Florida Forest Service has developed rules which apply to all State Forest visitors. Find out more about state forest fees and rules.

Developed Trails Campsites Other
Hike Bike Horse Canoe Camp sites with
 Electric
Leashed
 Pets OK
More Activities
Check Mark Check Mark Check Mark Stable* Check Mark Check Mark Check Mark Check Mark+ Picnicking, Fishing, OHV Trail, Boat Ramp, Hunting

*Reservations Required
 +Contact the forest office for specific information.

Florida Trail
Great Florida Birding Trail
Trailtrotter Program 
Explore the Forest on Horseback
This state forest is part of the Trailwalker Hiking Program. The Florida National Scenic Trail passes through the forest. Withlacoochee State Forest is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail.

Contact Us

Florida Forest Service
Withlacoochee State Forest
Recreation/Visitors Center
15003 Broad Street
Brooksville, Florida 34601

Telephone (352) 797-4140

Email Withlacoochee State Forest

Visitors Center Hours: Monday - Friday, except holidays:
8:00 a.m. - noon & 1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Hours may change without notice. Please call ahead if you plan to stop by.