Protecting more than 30,000 acres of the St. Johns River floodplain near Christmas, Tosohatchee WMA is a place to immerse yourself in the grandeur of old Florida, with its ancient live oaks, deeply shaded palm hammocks, and tall cypresses in the river swamps. It is also a wet place, where a little rise in water levels means soggy trails. With numerous loops possible on its 60-mile trail system, and a 10 mile segment of the statewide Florida Trail crossing the preserve, it’s a favorite destination for local hikers, cyclists, and equestrians.
Lat-Lon: 28.498365, -80.998584 (main entrance)
Fees: $4 per person
Open: dawn to dusk; overnight camping permitted
Leashed dogs permitted
Formerly a state park, Tosohatchee WMA was traded between state agencies to swap for other public lands to enter the state park system. Why? Deer hunting during the fall hunting season is one of the major reasons people come to Tosohatchee, and that land use wasn’t compatible with being a state park.
The other, year-round holy grail at Tosohatchee is its botany. A favorite of Florida botanist Walter Kingsley Taylor for its diversity of wildflowers – many of which show up in his field guides – this mosaic of pine flatwoods, palm hammocks, hardwood hammocks, and marshes along the St. Johns River floodplain also contains one of the few stands of virgin cypress in Florida, along Jim Creek not far from where SR 528 (Beachline) cuts the park in two.
Sand roads bisect the preserve and lead to trailheads on Fish Hole Road and Powerline Road. Depending on the time of year, the roads may be easy to traverse or rough going. There is one designated primitive campsite along the Florida Trail and a group campsite near the north end of the preserve for youth groups.
Explore the preserve
- Biking Tosohatchee - A 20.2-mile circuit on forest roads by bike provides a unique perspective on this 31,000-acre preserve along the St. Johns River floodplain in Christmas.
- Florida Trail, Tosohatchee - Bridging an immense expanse of pine flatwoods bisected by floodplain forests, a 10-mile segment of the statewide Florida Trail crosses Tosohatchee WMA.
- Taylor Creek Loop - An exploration into the wilderness along the St. Johns River near Cocoa, the Taylor Creek Loop invites you to immerse in the shade of ancient palms in a floodplain
- Tosohatchee White Loop - At nearly 12 miles, the White Loop is the longest loop trail in Tosohatchee WMA and includes a large portion of the Florida Trail, traversing palm hammocks and pine flatwoods near the St. Johns River.