Protecting more than 34,000 acres of coastal habitats along Florida’s Adventure Coast, Chassahowitzka WMA offers extensive exploration on its network of limerock roads.
Location: Weeki Wachee
Trailhead: 28.617251, -82.552701
Fees: Day use permit of $3 per person or $6 per vehicle
Land Manager: Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission
Open daily from dawn to dusk. Leashed dogs welcome.
Enter the main gate of Chassahowitzka WMA on the west side of US 19 just north of Centralia Rd. Stop at the entrance station to pay the day use fee. The hiking trails are along Indigo Road. It helps to have a map here – stop and get one, or download the one available from the link at the bottom of this page.
Chassahowitzka WMA is a huge swath of public land along Florida’s Adventure Coast, protecting more than 34,000 acres of coastal forests and wetlands north of Weeki Wachee, along with their secrets. Archaeological finds include a burial mound dating to the Weeden Island culture, as well as encampment sites for more modern indigenous peoples.
This vast landscape was home to Centralia, a bustling early 1900s timbering community of more than 1,500 people, centered around a large sawmill. It was a company town, run by the Tidewater Cypress Company to remove the virgin cypress from the coastal forests. By the late 1930s, they’d cut it all down and moved on, leaving the remnants of a ghost town.
While the primary purpose of this preserve is conservation and hunting land, two nature trails – Cypress Circle and Wild Turkey Trace – provide loop hikes off Indigo Road. The network of limerock roads are ideal for off-road biking. See the trail map for the various loops you can make.
Expect to see wildlife. We flushed a few turkeys, and it’s not uncommon to see white-tailed deer. This is also one of the largest strongholds of the Florida black bear along the Gulf Coast in the Florida peninsula. Look for bear tracks on the roads.
Biking, paddling, and even a bit of hiking were in the plans as we explored Florida’s Adventure Coast – Hernando County – for activities we could enjoy during warm weather.
Along this upland trail in Chassahowitzka WMA, Wild Turkey Trace immerses you in the turkey oaks and pines of the sandhill forest, with the surprise of a boggy marsh along the way.