April 5, 2010

Hiking In Withlacoochee State Forest

Withlacoochee Forest

It’s no secret that Florida is a flat state. There are no mountains and barely any hills from what I’ve seen. I miss mountains a lot more than I thought I would after leaving Arizona but I have not given up on finding some cool hikes here in the sunshine state.

The good news is that Florida does have a handful of state forests and parks that have some great hiking trails. A perfect example is Withlacoochee State Forest located near Dade City. My girlfriend and I made the drive up there from St Petersburg to check it out and were not disappointed.

Quick Facts

Withlacoochee State Forest is the third largest state forest in Florida and is home to a variety of tree species. It still surprises me to see pine trees and palm trees growing right along side one another.

The forest also hosts a bunch of different creatures including bald eagles, snakes, black bears, deer, wild boar, bobcats, and alligators. Talk about a wide range of species all calling one place home. The only thing we came across were a few deer and what appeared to be a boar or an armadillo (couldn’t see through the brush).

The Hike

The forest has a variety of different trails including an all-purpose paved trail. We went with one of the dirt trails that didn’t appear to be on the actual map. It took us through a few miles of marshy land along with a few meadows where we saw the deer. My goal was to hunt down some gators but I didn’t have any luck.

Here are a few pictures from the hike:

Deer in Withlacoochee Forest

Withlacoochee Hiking in Florida

One downside was the fact that mosquitos were EVERYWHERE. I don’t think I’ve ever seen mosquitos as thick as they were in the forest and we forget our bug spray (not a good idea). If you decide to check out the forest, make sure to pack some decent spray are you will regret it.

An Observation Tower

Once we looped back to the main trail we came across this observation tower:

Observation Tower

After climbing up the tower I was pretty impressed with the view:

View from Tower

A Replica Village

Besides coming across the observation tower, we also found a replica village that had a few different buildings including a cabin, church, and a small general store. Here are a few pictures of the village:



Video From The Hike

Here is a quick video I put together of the hike through Withlacoochee Forest:

I must say I was really impressed with this place. It is one of the coolest place I have come across here in Florida and I definitely plan on going back to check out the gators. If you’re ever in Florida, I highly recommend checking out Withlacoochee State Forest.

Want to see more photos? Check out the complete photo gallery here.

12 thoughts on “Hiking In Withlacoochee State Forest

  1. Jenn

    I can’t believe we still haven’t seen an alligator. I thought for sure we were going to see one on this hike. But it was still pretty awesome and I can’t wait to go back.

  2. Steve Evans

    This “unpronounceable” place sure is lovely. I am amazed that you managed to shoot a picture of those deer. You must have been quick to do that. After more than 20 years of hiking and not coming across any deer less than 200 yards distant, earlier this summer we strolled around a corner and found more than a dozen which had apparently been grazing at the side of the track and had not noticed us turning the bend. We were only a dozen yards from them. Great experience, and even when the dog taken off after them they did not really move away very fast. Needless, to say my camera was still in my pocket though as they disappeared into the forest.

  3. Galapagos Island Tours

    Isn’t a lot of Florida protected; I assume with all the wetlands along the coast. (hope that oil spill stays away). You might not be able to hike in these national parks but can’t you take some sort of cruise on a boat tour? I don’t know, I’ve never been to Florida? I do know though that there are some pretty incredible plants and animals to see.

  4. Carlos Betancourt

    This place looks beautiful now it’s in my bucket list. But if gators is what you want to see come on down to South Florida lets a road down here called the Loop Road (Google it) there’s gators everywhere we also saw deer there once.
    By the way there’s places that serve gator tail it’s delicious. The airboat rides into the Everglades are a blast too.


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