Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Seminole State Forest

Location | Natural Features | Recreation | Contacts

Seminole State Forest is one of many public properties in the scenic Wekiva River Basin. These properties were acquired under the Conservation and Recreation Lands (CARL), Save Our Rivers (SOR), Preservation 2000 (P2000), and Florida Forever programs to protect significant habitat for endangered species.

Since 1990, Seminole State Forest has been managed by the Florida Forest Service, with the goal of protecting and maintaining the forest's native biological diversity while integrating public use of the resources. Multiple-use management promotes recreation, timber, wildlife, endangered species, environmental education and many other values that benefit Florida's citizens and visitors.

Location

Two trailheads provide primary access for recreational use.  The Bear Pond Trailhead is located off of State Road 46, approximately five miles west of Interstate 4.  Cassia Trailhead is located off of Brantley Branch Road, 0.1 miles east of State Road 44 in Cassia.  The trailheads provide parking areas, entrance gates and access to the recreational trails.

  Large Map [ Adobe PDF Document 952.48 KB ]

Natural Features

The distinctive character of Seminole State Forest is its ecological diversity, which includes almost all of the naturally occurring vegetative communities found in Central Florida. There are more than 17 different natural communities, each with unique plants, animals and physical characteristics. A few examples are flatwoods, scrub, blackwater streams and bottomland forests. 

The forest contains approximately 4,300 acres of sand pine scrub, a rapidly disappearing biological community found predominately in Florida. The scrub provides important habitat for many rare and threatened species, such as the Florida black bear and scrub-jay. Other important species include the eastern indigo snake, hooded pitcher plant (Sarracenia minor), scrub bay (Persea humilis) and scrub holly (Ilex opaca var. arenicola).

The Wekiva River, along with Black Water Creek, have been nationally designated as the Wekiva Wild and Scenic River System.  Black Water Creek flows through the State Forest and the Wekiva River forms a portion of the forest's eastern boundary. Numerous small streams and spring runs meander through Seminole State Forest before joining Black Water Creek. Fifteen named springs exist on the property.

 

Recreation

Seminole State Forest offers many recreational opportunities for both the outdoor enthusiast and casual visitor. Parking is available off of State Road 44 and State Road 46; however, a State Forest Use Permit is required for drive-in access. Permits can be obtained by calling or visiting Lake Forest Station. Day-use entrance fees are collected at self-service pay stations near the entrance gates.

Single and multiple-use trails provide vast areas for exploration of the varied natural communities and provide connections to approximately 20 miles of multiple-use trails located on the adjacent Lower Wekiva River State Preserve. On Seminole State Forest, over 24 miles of hiking trails have been developed and are maintained by the Florida Trail Association. Eleven miles of the Florida National Scenic Trail crosses multiple parcels of SSF, stretching from SR 46, north to the Ocala National Forest. Seminole State Forest contains two hiking trails that are included in the Florida Forest Service's Trailwalker Hiking Program. Information on this hiking program can be obtained at the trail kiosk by each parking area or by contacting the Florida Forest Service. A series of spur trails provide connections to trailheads and parking areas and the adjacent trails on the Lower Wekiva River State Preserve. There are several primitive campsites along the orange blazed Florida National Scenic Trail that and are for hikers only. Hiking is also permitted on all open roads, unless otherwise posted.

The Lower Wekiva Loop Trail is 10.4 miles round trip from the Bear Pond Traihead and the North Sulphur Island Loop Trail is 8.5 miles round trip from the Cassia Trailhead.

Twenty-five miles of horse trails are available for day use. Spur trails provide connections between parking areas, three loop trails and the adjacent trails on the Lower Wekiva River State Preserve. Loop trails include the 7.2-mile River Creek Loop, the 7.4-mile Sulphur Island Loop, and the 4.2-mile Paola Loop. The River Creek and Sulphur Island Loop trails are included in the Florida Forest Service's Trailtrotter Program. Access to the trails is provided by step-over gates located at the trailheads. Horse trailer parking areas are also available. Proof of a current negative Coggins test is required for all horses. Horseback riding is restricted to trails designated for that use.

Off-road bicycles are permitted on over 25 miles of designated open roads (named roads) and bike trails. Access to the designated open roads is provided by walk-through openings located at the trailheads. The open roads system contains areas of packed and sandy roads. To check the current road condition, contact the Lake Forestry Station. This woods road system provides a 7-mile connection between the two parking areas and a series of loop and spur roads. Access is also provided to the adjacent trails on the Lower Wekiva River State Preserve.

Canoeing on Black Water Creek provides a glimpse of an undisturbed blackwater stream. Hand-launched watercraft are permitted to access Black Water Creek, north of the concrete bridge on Sand Road. Petroleum fuel motors are prohibited. A picnic table is provided for day use at the canoe launch.

There are eight primitive campsites on the forest that have fire rings and picnic tables. Three of the sites are located along the Florida National Scenic Trail. These "Walk-up" sites are for trail users.  The other five sites require reservations, two of which are group campsites.  https://floridastateforests.reserveamerica.com/ 

Hunting and Fishing: Portions of Seminole State Forest are managed as a Wildlife Management Area through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

2017 - 2018 Hunting Dates for Seminole State Forest

Hunting Dates for Seminole State Forest

Season

Seminole Forest WMA

Lake Tracy Unit, Seminole Forest WMA

Archery

Sept. 23 - 26, 2017
Sept. 27 - Oct. 1, 2017

Sept. 21 - 24, 2017
Sept. 28 - Oct. 1, 2017

General Gun-Mobility Impaired

Oct. 20 - 22, 2017

n/a

Muzzle Loading Gun

Oct. 27 - 29, 2017

Oct. 26 - 29, 2017

General Gun

Dec. 2 - 5, 2017
Dec. 6 - 10, 2017

Nov. 9 - 12, 2017

Wild Hog-Still Season

n/a

Nov. 17 - 19, 2017
Dec. 15 - 17, 2017
Jan. 12 - 14, 2018

Small Game

Jan. 13 - 14, 2018
Jan. 20 - 21, 2018
Jan. 27 - 28, 2018

Jan. 5 - 7, 2018
Jan. 19 - 21, 2018
Jan. 26 - 28, 2018

Spring Turkey

Mar. 17 - 21, 2018
Mar. 24 - 28, 2018

Mar. 17 - 19, 2018
Mar. 23 - 25, 2018

FWC's Hunting Regulations

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 guidelines.