Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Charles H. Bronson State Forest

LocationNatural Features | Recreation | Contacts

On July 1, 2008, the Charles H. Bronson State Forest was established by legislative direction and is named after Charles H. Bronson, who served as the ninth Commissioner for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services from 2001 to 2011. The forest is approximately 10,945 acres. It was purchased by the Board of Trustees (Florida Forever Funds), St. Johns River Water Management District, Natural Resource Conservation Service and Orange County.

In the past the forest was used for turpentine, agriculture and cattle grazing. Today it is managed to restore and maintain native ecosystems, protect plants and animals, protect archaeological and historical sites, support outdoor recreation, and protect the quality and health of rivers and wetlands. Sustainable forest management and agricultural management practices are used.

Prescribed fire is applied to mimic natural fires and helps to reduce the hazards of wildfires. It is used as an effective tool to improve forest health, ecological functions and wildlife habitat.

Location

The Charles H. Bronson State Forest is adjacent to and south of the Little Big Econ State Forest. It is located about 40 minutes east of Orlando in southeastern Seminole County and northeastern Orange County near the towns of Chuluota and Christmas, Florida. The Charles H. Bronson State Forest is operated out of the Little Big Econ State Forest headquarters, which is located on Snow Hill Road in Geneva, Florida.

Large File [ Adobe PDF Document 734.32 KB ]

Natural Features

The forest provides a crucial source of protection for wetlands and associated natural communities within the floodplain of the St. Johns River. Other natural communities include wet prairie, pine flatwoods, sandhill and cypress swamp. 

The Charles H. Bronson State Forest’s most notable feature is the St. Johns River, which makes up part of the forest’s eastern boundary. It is designated as an American Heritage River and, at 310 miles, is the longest river in Florida. Other notable features of the forest include the four creeks that flow through it: Turkey Creek, Joshua Creek, Buscombe Creek and Christmas Creek. 

The forest supports a variety of wildlife, including deer, turkey, gray squirrel, alligator, Sherman’s fox squirrel, gopher tortoise, bald eagle, roseate spoonbill, sandhill crane and wood stork.

Recreation

The forest is open during daylight hours for visitors to enjoy picnicking, horseback riding, hiking, fishing and wildlife viewing. Access to the trails is available at one main trailhead at the end of Phillips Road and at a shared trailhead at the Chuluota Wilderness Area at the end of Curryville Road. 

Seasonal hunting takes place on the forest. Please see the hunting section below for dates. 

Horse Trail

The Charles H. Bronson State Forest has 20 miles of horse trails that are connected to three other conservation lands along its boundary -- Little Big Econ State Forest, Chuluota Wilderness Area and Orlando Wetlands Park. As you ride along the trails you will go through a variety of ecosystems such as sandhill, pine flatwoods and oak-palm hammocks. You will also pass the freshwater marsh that borders the St. Johns River. Some sections of the trail go along the edges of cattle pastures.   

NOTE: ALL horses must have proof of current negative Coggins test results when on state lands. ALL children under the age of 16 are required to wear a protective helmet while riding on state lands.

Horse Trail Brochure [ Adobe PDF Document 885.70 KB ]

Hiking Trails

The Charles H. Bronson State Forest has 19 miles of hiking trails of which 7.5 miles are the Florida National Scenic Trail. The trails lead hikers through a variety of ecosystems, including the majestic oak-palm hammocks, pine flatwoods and sandhill. The trails provide many scenic views and a chance to see some wildlife along the way.

The hiking trails are maintained by the Florida Trail Association.

Hiking Trail Brochure [ Adobe PDF Document 928.69 KB ]

Primitive Camping

The Charles H. Bronson State Forest offers primitive campsites located on the Joshua Creek Tract. You can access them from the Joshua Creek Trailhead at the end of Phillips Road. The primitive campsites can only be accessed from the hiking trail.

Overnight camping is allowed by obtaining a State Forest Use Permit available at the Little Big Econ State Forest office. For more information and to get a State Forest Use Permit, please call the forest at (407) 971-3500 or email the Charles H. Bronson State Forest.

Joshua Creek Campsites Brochure [ Adobe PDF Document 439.33 KB ]

Hunting and Fishing

Hunting and fishing on the Charles H. Bronson State Forest is regulated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The Charles H. Bronson State Forest is open for hunting and is a  Wildlife Management Area that is managed cooperatively by the Florida Forest Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Please check the  Charles H. Bronson Wildlife Management Area Hunting Brochure for dates. Wildlife hunted on the forest includes deer, ducks, hogs, rabbits, squirrels and turkeys.  

Fishing is a popular activity along the St. Johns Rivers, where largemouth bass, catfish, crappie, bluegill and other fish are frequently caught. 

Recreational Hunting and Fishing Licenses

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.