Serving to connect the Florida Trail through tracts of the Withlacoochee State Forest, this four mile section of trail combines a short rural roadwalk and conservation land.
Situated on the Brooksville Ridge, the terrain is naturally hilly, and comprised mostly of sandhill habitats.
A variety of wildlife inhabits the natural areas, including rare and threatened species like the red-cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoise, and Sherman’s fox squirrel.
The trail provides an immersion in rustic Florida farmlands for a mile-long stretch between woodlands.
Resources for exploring the area
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Length: 4.1 mile linear
Trailhead: 28.619110, -82.314636
Address: Willow Street, Brooksville, FL 34601
Restrooms: At Colonel Robins campsite
Land manager: Florida Fish & Wildlife, Florida Forest Service
Phone: 850-488-4676, 352-797-4140
Open daylight hours unless camping. Dogs not permitted in Perry Oldenberg WEA.
Camp only at Colonel Robins campsite. Reserve in advance.
For the starting point in Croom, from Interstate 75 exit 309 head west on CR 476B for 3 miles, until it becomes CR 476 W. Continue for 6.2 miles before turning left onto Daly Rd. In 1.4 miles, turn right onto Pine Hill Rd, then take the first left onto Danmar Ave. In a half mile, turn right onto Willow St. The entrance is an unmarked grass driveway on the right in 0.7 mile, look for an orange blaze on the adjacent utility pole. The small trailhead parking area is about 500 feet down the grass road.
The ending point, Prairie to Pines Trailhead, is a prominent trailhead at the northwest corner of Snow Hill Rd and US 41 several miles north of Brooksville along US 41.
Starting where the Florida Trail leaves Withlacoochee State Forest, follow a dirt road for a tenth of a mile to the corner of Willow St. and Danmar Ave.
The trail follows the pavement due west for 0.8 miles, designated by orange blazed utility poles.
Turn right at the first double blaze before heading down a short grass-covered driveway.
Passing through a gate at the entrance to Perry Oldenburg WEA, take a moment to glance at a large kiosk with a map and information about the area.
Known for its dense population of gopher tortoises, this property was the first parcel purchased under the Mitigation Park Program by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Following blazes northward, the trail initially travels along a grassy access road through sandhill habitat.
As the road takes a sweeping turn to the west, the hilly landscape of the Brooksville Ridge rises in the distance.
Slash pines and turkey oaks rise above a thick carpet of grasses and small shrubs lining the pathway. In a half mile, turn left to follow a wide powerline easement.
Zebra longwing and gulf fritillary butterflies drift across the open space, searching for passionflower vines to deposit their eggs.
Birds of prey regularly use the powerlines for perching, including American kestrels, the smallest species in North America.
The FWC has placed nesting boxes for kestrels throughout the property, and the trail passes one shortly before turning off the easement and back into the woods.
Joining the north portion of the Perry Oldenburg Nature Trail loop, the trail is blazed both orange and blue as it enters a shaded oak canopy.
Meandering around a prairie pond and through a variety of oaks, the path continues for 0.4 mile before reaching the main entrance.
A short walk down the entrance road from the Perry Oldenburg trailhead, the trail meets Deer Run Rd at Government Rd.
Roadwalk west along Deer Run Rd while it climbs a hill overlooking large cattle pastures.
Passing Spotted Fawn Trail after a mile, look for the FNST sign just beyond this road intersection on the left to re-enter the forest within Withlacoochee State Forest.
The trail is blazed orange and yellow through this short stretch, following along a portion of the Colonel Robins Nature Tail, passing its namesake campsite along the way.
Colonel Robins Group Area is reservable for up to 25 people, offering several picnic tables and bathrooms.
Leading away from the campsite, the pine straw covered pathway winds through stands of sand pine and scattered small oak trees.
In a quarter mile the trail reaches US 41. Watch for high-speed traffic while crossing to the west side of the two-lane highway.
This 4.1-mile hike ends at the Prairie to Pines Trailhead at the corner of US 41 and Snow Hill Rd, the primary access point for Chinsegut Wildlife Environmental Area.
Learn more about Withlacoochee State Forest and Perry Oldenburg WEA
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
A virtual walk in the woods along this section
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
The southernmost concentration of ancient longleaf pine in America, the Big Pine Tract of Chinsegut WEA is also the second largest contiguous tract of old-growth longleaf pine in Florida.
9.8 miles. Traversing rolling landscapes of the Brooksville Ridge, the Croom section of the Florida Trail provides miles of panoramic views within a large area of sandhill habitat.