Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Goethe State Forest

Location | Natural Features | Recreation | Contacts

Goethe is a 53,587 acre state forest and 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 major portion of Goethe State Forest is located in southeastern Levy County near the Gulf of Mexico. A smaller area of Goethe State Forest, called the Watermelon Pond Unit, is north of the main tract, and is located on both sides of the Levy / Alachua county line. The forest headquarters is located ¾ of a mile south of the intersection of State Road 121 and County Road 337, at 9110 SE County Road 337, Dunnellon, FL 34431.

Natural Features

Goethe State Forest is dominated by longleaf pine flatwoods and swamps between the Brooksville ridge and the Gulf of Mexico.  The forest has 19 different natural communities including mesic flatwoods, dome swamp, sandhill, and basin swamp. Goethe State Forest contains an exceptionally large tract of contiguous hydric hammock, and still has some scattered old growth cypress, like the Goethe Giant. Drains flowing through Goethe include Black Prong, Cow Creek, Ten Mile Creek, and Horse Hole Creek.

The forest has many old growth longleaf pine trees, and therefore has maintained a population of the endangered red cockaded woodpecker.  Other rare animal species found on the forest include the Florida black bear, gopher tortoise, gopher frog, striped newts, Florida mice, Sherman's fox squirrel and bald eagle.  The forest also has an exceptional concentration of at least 34 species of orchids.

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  and helps prevent uncontrollable, devastating wildfires.


The Goethe trail system extends throughout the forest with access available at seven separate trailheads. These trailheads are located in five different tracts of the forest. Each trailhead and respective trail system provides a different experience for the recreational user.  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. Primitive campsites are located at the Tidewater Campground. Goethe State Forest contains many trails that are included in the Florida Forest Service's Trailwalker Hiking Program and the Trailtrotter 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 [ Adobe PDF Document ] .

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.