In 1836, during the Second Seminole War, a bedraggled battalion of sick and injured soldiers walking to Tampa stopped to regroup after a month-long battle at the Cove of the Withlacoochee. The Seminoles followed and continued to attack.
A hastily-build log fort along the shore of Lake Holathlikaha protected the 380 men as they recuperated.
Named for Major Mark Anthony Cooper, who was charged with protecting the soldiers, the fort was abandoned when the soldiers were able to continue their journey. This park preserves the historic site.
Resources for exploring the area
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Address: 3100 S. Old Floral City Rd, Inverness
Fees: $3 per vehicle, $2 for bicyclists/pedestrians, $5 primitive camping
Restrooms: At the picnic area
Land Manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM until sunset daily. Leashed pets welcome.
Swimming is not permitted at the lake, but sunning and volleyball on the beach are encouraged.
Fort Cooper State Park is south of downtown Inverness. From the intersection with SR 44 at Cooter Pond, downtown, take US 41 south to Old Floral City Road. Turn left at the light. You’ll cross the Withlacoochee State Trail, and turn right. Follow the signs 1.6 miles to the park entrance. After paying your Florida State Parks entrance fee, follow the winding road back into the woods.
About the Park
Surrounding a marshy lake, the park offers picnic pavilions and tables beneath the cover of grand old live oaks, and a playground.
Trails branch out from this spot in both directions, with interpretation of native species and Seminole War history.
A reenactment each March showcases pioneer and Seminole life near a fragment of reconstructed fort along the original Fort King Trail, a military trail between Ocala and Tampa.
Camping is limited to youth groups and primitive campers coming off the Withlacoochee State Trail, which has a paved extension into the park, leading to the parking area.
Call the park office to arrange primitive camping, which is primarily for cyclists on the Withlacoochee State Trail.
All trails are well marked with maps at trail junctions to help you find your way.
See our photos of Fort Cooper State Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
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
In downtown Inverness, Cooter Pond Park is a great place for birding and watching the turtles beneath the extensive boardwalk over the pond.
The Second Seminole War began amid the longleaf pines in these woods near Bushnell, the meeting place of Federal troops and Seminole warriors on December 25, 1835.