One of several tracts comprising the Withlacoochee State Forest, Croom is named after a nearby ghost town that existed on the banks of the forest’s namesake river.
The Western Corridor of the Florida Trail passes through 15.4 miles of the Croom Tract, including the Croom River Trail.
This section spans from the Croom Trailhead to the north boundary of the forest, crossing nearly ten miles of woodlands in a rural corner of Florida.
Connecting to this hike are cross trails that create loop hikes labeled the Croom A, B, and C Loops, as well as the Silver Lake Loop to the east.
Only the east and north sides of the loop system are marked with the orange blazes of the linear Florida Trail. We cover the 24.9 miles of the Croom Loops separately.
Resources for exploring the area
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Length: 9.8 miles linear
Trailhead: 28.563482, -82.221998
Address: Croom Rital Road, Riverview, FL 33569
Fees: Free at Croom trailhead. Parking fees at Silver Lake and Tucker Hill.
Restrooms: At Silver Lake and Tucker Hill recreation areas
Land manager: Florida Forest Service
Open daylight hours unless camping. Leashed dogs welcome. Both campgrounds and primitive campsites available. Reserve in advance.
Check hunting dates before you go. Wear bright orange during hunts.
You’ll find yourself crossing and meeting up the bike trail at some campsites. Bikers and hikers should be on separate trail systems, per signage at Tucker Hill.
Take Interstate 75 exit 301 to SR 50. Drive east 1 mile to Croom-Rital Road and turn left at the traffic light. The River Trail starts at the Ridge Manor trailhead and ends at Croom-Rital Rd parking area. For the Croom Hiking Trail, start here or at Silver Lake Recreation Area.
North of the Interstate 75 underpass, look for cars parked at the blue-blazed trail crossing along the Withlacoochee State Trail, the Silver Lake Loop junction. This is also a decent place to park for a day hike.
Backpackers should continue up Croom Road to Tucker Hill Recreation Area to leave your car overnight. Alternatively, you may do so at Silver Lake. Check with the camp host. A fee may apply.
The north end of this hike emerges onto Willow Street east of Perry Oldenberg WEA, north of Brooksville off US 41. Parking is roadside or at the Perry Oldenberg trailheads. Cars should not be left overnight.
From the parking area, look for an orange-blazed post on the west side of the road. Passing through a gap in the fence, head down a narrow path through tall bushes.
Continue across the paved Withlacoochee State Trail, following a double blaze into the adjacent woods.
Paralleling the paved path through a mix of scrubby sandhill and hardwood hammocks, the trail briefly leaves tree cover at 0.7 mile to pass under Interstate 75.
This linear section continues for a mile before turning west away from the Withlacoochee State Trail near the Silver Lake Loop junction to enter a spotty canopy of live and turkey oaks.
Large swaths of reindeer moss carpet the forest floor until the terrain becomes swampier as the trail passes a pond lined with cypress and sweetgum.
After the trail crosses Croom Rd, the habitat changes with the addition of pine trees and saw palmettos.
A short yellow-blazed trail in 0.2 mile leads to an inviting camping area complete with a picnic table and fire ring under a shady cluster of oaks.
Continuing northward on the hike, shade is limited as the path leads into an open sandhill habitat.
Longleaf pines, sand live oaks, and turkey oaks dot the landscape as the trail weaves through a low cover of wiregrass, ironweed, sages, and blazing stars.
As the path wraps around the edge of a small, open prairie pond, it begins a westward trek across the forest.
Flat terrain gives way to undulating landscapes as the trail traverses several rolling hills. The climbs are gradual, and the views from the top are spectacular.
Shortly after crossing Forest Road 7, the trail ascends a steep hill by Florida standards before quickly dropping down the other side.
Among the familiar turkey oaks, live oaks, and pines within the sandhill habitat, an impressive variety of vegetation thrives despite the arid soil conditions.
Depending on the time of year, coral bean, yucca and sandhill milkweed may be in bloom, adding splashes of color to the primarily green and brown scenery.
At the Willow Street connector trail junction, continue following orange blazes northward.
Approaching the edge of the forest, the trail cuts through a corner of an old pine farm before reaching a sign for Willow St at 9.8 miles.
From here, the trail takes a short road walk due west before reaching Perry Oldenburg Wildlife & Environmental Area.
NORTHBOUND: Willow Street to Chinsegut WEA
SOUTHBOUND: Croom River Trail
Learn more about Withlacoochee State Forest
Hike the orange blazes of the Croom Hiking Trail
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Using the Florida Trail and the Blue Loop Trail, hikers can explore a picturesque corner of Withlacoochee State Forest in Ridge Manor along a 3.9-mile loop.
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
An important link in the Florida Coast to Coast Trail, the Good Neighbor Trail stretches 10.1 miles from downtown Brooksville to the Withlacoochee State Trail