Walk a gentle loop through the longleaf pine forest that saw one of the bloodiest moments in Florida history.
On December 28, 1835, Seminole warriors who opposed the federal government’s attempt to remove them from Florida waited in ambush for U.S. Army soldiers marching down the Fort King Military Road.
The Seminoles’ initial attack killed or wounded more than half of the soldiers. After several hours, only three of the soldiers, thought dead, escaped to tell the tale.
This incident sparked the Second Seminole War.
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Length: 0.7 mile loop
Address: 7200 Battlefield Parkway, Bushnell
Fees: $3 per vehicle
Restroom: At the trailhead
Land Manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM to sunset. Leashed dogs welcome.
Visit the visitor’s center (open 9-5) for the full story on the Dade Massacre and the Seminole Wars. A separate trail on the opposite side of the park road leads past monuments commemorating the fallen.
There are picnic pavilions (including a screened room), a playground, and a large grassy field that hosts the battle re-enactment each December.
From US 301 in Bushnell, take CR 476 west for 0.5 mile. Turn left on Battlefield Drive, which leads into the park. After paying your entrance fee, turn right into the first parking area. Follow the “Nature Trail” signs to the trailhead adjacent to the re-enactment field.
There are numerous unmarked trail junctions within the trail system, so sticking to the loop is a little tough. Pick a direction and go!
All trails stay within the park and the understory of the forest is relatively open. The interpretive signs are unlike any seen in other state parks. They are artfully mounted on slices from trees.
Blueberries abound in late spring. Note the many catfaced pines from the turpentine era, some with metal flashing still embedded in their trunks.
Learn more about Dade Battlefield State Park
See our photos of Dade Battlefield State Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
With more than 155,000 acres spread over several counties, Withlacoochee State Forest is Florida’s second largest state forest, and arguably the most popular for outdoor recreation
For a dip into primordial wilderness along the Withlacoochee River, walk the Hog Island Nature Trail at Hog Island Recreation Area in Withlacoochee State Forest
Tracing 44 miles of railroad history down forested corridors, past big lakes and city parks, and through quaint communities, the Withlacoochee State Trail is one sweet ride