Envisioned as a connector to join the Cross Florida Greenway and the Withlacoochee State Trail together to benefit the route of the statewide Florida Trail, the paved Dunnellon Trail crosses the cypress-lined banks of the Withlacoochee River on a massive bridge with great views.
Full details on this hike, including a trail map, are in our full-color guidebook Florida Trail Hikes.
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Length: 2.3 miles linear
Trailhead: 29.03125, -82.45610
Restroom: portable toilets at all trailheads
Land manager: Cross Florida Greenway
Cyclists and hikers share the trail. This entire route is paved and accessible, with multiple benches along it. Leashed pets welcome. Open 8 AM to sunset. No potable water or designated campsites provided.
Additional trailheads are at Bridges Rd, the end of this paved segment of trail, and off a spur trail at Blue Run Park along CR 484 just east of the Rainbow River.
Just off US 41 south of Dunnellon, the CR 39 trailhead is immediately east of the intersection of the two highways. Follow the long access road up to the parking area.
Both alternative trailheads are off CR 484 east of downtown Dunnellon. The road to the Bridges Rd trailhead is unpaved and very rough.
The pavement starts at CR 39, but your hike starts at the trailhead kiosk with a map of the route. Flanked by a dense forest of oaks in climax sandhill habitat, the trail curves along a former railroad route with a broad grassy berm.
Shade begins in earnest as the trail enters the floodplain forest of the Withlacoochee River. The big bridge over the Withlacoochee River fills the horizon ahead.
Reaching the bridge after 0.8 mile, enjoy the views from the top. Observation platforms provide a place from which to watch birds, boaters, and alligators along this cypress-lined waterway.
The far side of the bridge has a bench cleverly built into it. Walk through the deep shade of the floodplain forest for the next half mile, admiring the cypress swamps.
Access points on both sides of the path are for residents of a small community. On the left, you start seeing glimpses of the Rainbow River. While you can’t see its confluence with the Withlacoochee River, it’s beyond the dense swampy forest.
At 1.3 miles, the trail curves past a bench and a paved path. That path to the left leads to Blue Run Park and the city of Dunnellon.
Backpackers wanting to access services in town – Dunnellon makes a good zero day stop – can do so via sidewalks by following this connector a quarter mile to CR 484.
Cross over paved San Jose Blvd. The trail makes a sharp turn to the right to leave the powerline easement for a short jog through an oak hammock.
After passing ballfields on the left, this paved section ends at the trailhead on Bridges Rd. There is usually a portalet in place but no water. If you need water, walk over to the ballfields to find a spigot.
NORTHBOUND: CR 484 Roadwalk. Cross Bridges Rd to enter a pine plantation through a gap in the fence. Follow the orange blazes 1.5 miles through the pines, emerging through a fence gap onto CR 484. Turn right. Follow the shoulder of CR 484 for 3.4 miles, passing Cannon Farms at the traffic light and a forestry tower more than a mile later. Turn right into the Pruitt trailhead entrance road and walk up it to connect to the Pruitt section.
SOUTHBOUND: Citrus Springs Roadwalk. Orange blazes connect the Dunnellon trailhead with the Withlacoochee State Trail trailhead at Citrus Springs by following CR 39 west, US 41 south, and a maze of subdivision roads back to the trailhead.
Our slides from the Dunnellon Trail
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Enjoy a gentle family-friendly hike along the Rainbow River at Blue Run of Dunnellon Park, where woodland footpaths and paved trails keep you mostly in the shade with dry feet as you explore the river floodplain.
Just south of the Withlacoochee River lies the Two Mile Prairie Tract of Withlacoochee State Forest, where the Johnson Pond Trail provides a walk through sandhills and oak scrub, touching on prairies along its 2.7-mile loop.
A place of beauty that morphed from phosphate pits to botanical attraction over the course of a century, Rainbow Springs State Park cradles one of Florida’s most beautiful first-magnitude springs and the river it creates in a wrap of shady forests and gardens.
Official Map (PDF) Official Website