The Cross Florida Greenway is a unique component of the Florida State Parks system. Spanning over a hundred miles in length, and typically only a mile across, it is a fantastic example of conservation.
What was once a planned barge canal route is now protected land, offering multiple recreation opportunities, including this beautiful stretch of the Florida Trail south of Marshall Swamp.
Crossed multiple times by a paved bike path system, what was formerly cow pasture east of Baseline Rd was planted in longleaf pines soon after acquisition, and has now grown into an immersive forest.
Resources for exploring the area
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Location: Silver Springs
Length: 2.7 miles linear
Trailhead: 29.142204, -82.052940
Address: 4803 SE 58th Ave #4397, Ocala
Restrooms: Restrooms at south end, portable toilet at north end
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open sunrise to sunset. No bicycles permitted on the footpath. Dogs are allowed on a leash.
Hunting is not allowed along the length of the Cross Florida Greenway.
From Interstate 75, head east on SR27 for 2.8 miles, then turn right onto US301/ US441. In 1.8 Miles, turn left onto SR 464 and continue for 5.9 miles.
For the south end of this hike, turn left onto SR 35 (Baseline Rd / SE 58th Ave). Turn right in 0.4 mile, following the driveway for 0.2 mile to the Baseline Rd trailhead.
For the north end of this hike, continue straight ahead at SR 35 and get in the left lane. In a half mile, turn left onto SE 64th Ave Rd. Follow it for 2.1 miles. The SE 64th Ave Rd trailhead is on the left just before the road dead-ends.
Starting at the parking area, head eastward on the sidewalk through the Baseline trailhead picnic area. You’ll find a post with a shield-shaped Florida Trail sign and distances to the nearest trailheads.
Following the concrete walkway for 200 feet, turn right at a similar sign before taking a short mowed path into the woods.
Busy sounds of the trailhead park and nearby traffic quickly fade upon entering a shady tunnel through a sliver of oak hammock.
Crossing a paved multi use trail, follow orange blazes down a well-worn pathway through a longleaf pine restoration area.
In 0.3 mile, cross the multi-use trail again, following sandy footprints across the pavement.
The forest is recovering nicely from past agricultural use, although the rows of planted pines seem odd at certain angles, revealing long open corridors of grass between them.
A small section of oaks borders the next paved trail crossing, providing a bit of shade before transitioning into a more sandhill type habitat within young pine forest.
Spanish moss hangs from twisted branches above dense shrubs and palmettos.
Blackberry brambles sprout from a thick carpet of pine needles covering the forest floor as the trail continues to the northeast.
Crossing the paved path again, the trees are taller, but much more sporadic.
For the next half-mile, shade is limited while trekking across grassy clearings covered in tufts of dogfennel.
Several bird species dart overhead from tree to tree, including pine warblers and red-bellied woodpeckers.
Features of sandhill habitat become more prominent towards the north end of the trail. Turkey oaks dot a landscape of wiregrass covered white sands.
These trees are easily recognized by their distinctive leaf shape, and one of only a few species well adapted to this dry environment.
As the trail approaches the SE 64th Ave trailhead, a square of canal diggings from the Cross Florida Barge Canal project introduces interesting elevation changes.
This popular spot offers a disk golf course that crisscrosses the trail a few times. Turn right at the blue-blazed connector trail, following that path straight east for 0.2 mile to the trailhead parking area.
Learn more about the Florida Trail on the Cross Florida Greenway
See our photos of the Baseline section of the Florida Trail
More worth exploring while you’re in this area
3 miles. Marvel at towering trees in an ancient forest along this Florida Trail segment on the Cross Florida Greenway
Built to showcase the Cross Florida Greenway, the Silver River Connector is a 3-mile round-trip from the Ocklawaha Visitor Center to Ray Wayside Park.
Silver Springs Conservation Area protects upland habitats crucial to recharge of Silver Springs. Two stacked loop trails (with a cross-trail on the upper loop) provide several options for hiking.