Sweeping across Marion County and its communities, the mile-wide swath of public land known as the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway provides separate, parallel trail systems for hikers, cyclists, and equestrians.
Along nearly 40 miles of the Florida Trail complete along its length, it offers surprising changes in elevation thanks to piled-up remains of canal diggings up to a century old, now covered in forests.
Providing backpackers an alternative for overnight trips while fall hunting season is in full swing on other public lands, this section of the Florida Trail is ideal for day hiking thanks to its many trailheads.
Backpacking the Cross Florida Greenway
In the fall, this section of the Florida Trail is popular with backpackers since hunting is not allowed along it.
Backpacking the Florida Trail across the Cross Florida Greenway requires one of two things: either a membership in the Florida Trail Association or a free permit.
If you are not an FTA member, contact the Office of Greenways and Trails (352-236-7143) in advance of your trip and outline your planned route.
This is a decent section for backpacking with your dog. It is high and dry pretty much the entire way. Alligator sightings are unlikely except at Marshall Swamp.
Use designated campsites, established campsites, or campgrounds. Benches and a fire ring are provided at designated campsites.
While bears are infrequently seen along this piece of the Florida Trail, they have been spotted. You’ll want to bear bag your food to secure it from nosy raccoons.
Water sources are very limited along the trail. Surface water is mostly non-existent except in the swamps at either end of this section.
Potable water can be found at the Ross Prairie, Shangri-La, Land Bridge, Santos, Baseline, and Marshall Swamp trailheads.
Water can be filtered from horse troughs (fed by wells) at the Pruitt and SW 49th Avenue trailheads, as well as at the land bridge.
Long distance hikers have quite a few stops to choose from.
Dunnellon is a welcoming trail town with services starting less than a mile off-trail. You’ll find hotels, restaurants, and several full-service grocery stores to choose from. It’s worth a zero day for a float down the Rainbow River.
A Walmart is less than a mile north of the road crossing at SR 200. It’s 2 miles south along CR 475A to hotels, restaurants, and an array of services at SR 484 and Interstate 75.
The town of Belleview is less than 3 miles south off the trail for hotels, restaurants, and grocery stores.
Right outside the gate of the Santos trailhead, Greenway Bicycles has snacks and drinks geared to athletes.
The town of Silver Springs is 4.3 miles northwest of the Marshall Swamp trailhead, with hotels, restaurants, a Walmart, and access to one of the world’s largest springs.
PARKING & SHUTTLE
If you’re leaving a car for multiple days, best to do so behind the gates of one of the campgrounds, where a camp host is present.
If you need assistance with a shuttle, join the Florida Trail Hikers Facebook group and ask for assistance. There are a number of volunteers in the area who can help. Be sure to compensate them for their gas and time.
Even with its buffer zone, much of the Cross Florida Greenway is surrounded by homes, subdivisions, and working ranches. Road crossings and trailheads may bustle with activity.
Use street smarts. Don’t leave your gear unattended, lock your car and leave nothing of value in view, and don’t stay at a trailhead if someone makes you uncomfortable.
All of the mileages below start with mile 0 at the CR 39 trailhead and end with mile 39.2 at the Marshall Swamp trailhead. These mileages are calculated from the Florida Trail App. Those marked with * have water sources, ** for potable water.
0.0 – CR 39 trailhead
0.8 – Withlacoochee River bridge
2.3 – Bridges Road trailhead
7.2 – Pruitt trailhead*
12.2 – Ross Prairie trailhead and campground 0.7E**
13.6 – Ross Prairie campsite
14.1 – Spring Park campsite
15.8 – Shangri-La trailhead and campground 0.9E**
19.0 – SW 49th Ave trailhead 0.2E*
19.1 – SW 49th Ave campsite
21.2 – Land Bridge*
22.2 – Land Bridge campsite
22.4 – Land Bridge trailhead**
27.4 – Vortex trailhead
30.0 – Santos trailhead and campground 0.1E**
34.1 – Baseline trailhead**
36.2 – SE 64th Ave trailhead 0.2E
39.2 – Marshall Swamp trailhead**
Guthook Guides Comprehensive logistics and offline maps for the Florida National Scenic Trail.
These are the trail segments that make up the Florida Trail on the Cross Florida Greenway.
A walk in an urban forest, the Baseline section of the Florida Trail showcases restored sandhill habitat
Bridging the Cross Florida Greenway across the Withlacoochee River, the Dunnellon Trail provides a destination for cyclists and hikers
Between the Land Bridge Trailhead and Santos, the 7-mile linear section of the Florida Trail winds its way around horse farms to meander through stands of oaks and pines.
Marvel at towering trees in an ancient forest along this Florida Trail segment on the Cross Florida Greenway
Scrambling up and over the historic diggings of the failed Cross Florida Barge Canal, the Florida Trail between Pruitt trailhead and Ross Prairie tunnels through dense hardwoods
Along a 6.5-mile segment of the Florida Trail near Ocala, explore hilly terrain where fern-covered boulders rest beneath the pines
A 4.5-mile section of the Florida Trail between Belleview and Silver Springs Shores, the Santos to Baseline section on the Cross Florida Greenway is a linear woodland in suburbia.
A gap exists in the trail between the Dunnellon Trail and the Pruitt Trailhead. Presently, a short segment of blazed trail leads through a forest from the Bridges Rd trailhead to CR 484.
From the traffic light at SW 180th Street where the trail ends at the road, you must follow CR 484 for 2.8 miles due east to the Pruitt trailhead.
Due to high speed traffic on this highway and a lack of a paralleling path, we do not recommend this unless you are working on a section or thru-hike and don’t want to skip it.
Articles about the Florida Trail along the Cross Florida Greenway
Basic wayfinding – understanding where the sun is, looking at landscape, picking out landmarks as you hike – comes as second nature to some people. It’s an important skill that all hikers should cultivate.
A landmark along Interstate 75 near Ocala, the Land Bridge remains one of the more popular destinations for hikers, bikers, and equestrians on the Cross Florida Greenway.
A visit to the Barge Canal Diggings near I-75 after 13 years of the Florida Trail on the Cross Florida Greenway reveals steady changes over the years, shown in a series of photos.
Loop & Side Trails
The following trails connect to the Florida Trail along the Cross Florida Greenway, and in some places, use a portion of the Florida Trail to create a loop.
A 2.4 mile loop showing off the habitat diversity of Ross Prairie State Forest, this easy hike provides scenic panoramas across the prairie on a mostly shaded trail.
Biking the Santos Trails for the first time this fall, I opted to leave my vintage Cannondale at home and try a rental bike for my first spin through these famed off-road trails south of Ocala.
ALL Cross Florida Greenway Information