In a portion of Chassahowitzka WMA where turkey oaks thrive in the sandhills, the Wild Turkey Trace is a loop of a little more than a half mile. Along the route is the surprise of a boggy marsh.
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Location: Weeki Wachee
Length: 0.6 mile loop
Trailhead: 28.648983, -82.575067
Fees: Day use permit of $3 per person or $6 per vehicle
Restroom: A portable toilet is seasonally in place at the hunt check station
Land manager: Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission
Open daily from dawn to dusk. Leashed dogs welcome. There is a picnic table at the trailhead.
Enter the main gate of Chassahowitzka WMA on the west side of US 19 north of Centralia Rd. Pass the Hunt Check Station and take the graded road, Indigo Lane. Follow it for 1.5 miles until you see the trail parking area for the two hiking trails in the preserve.
Chassahowitzka WMA is a huge swath of public land along Florida’s Adventure Coast, protecting more than 34,000 acres of coastal forests and wetlands north of Weeki Wachee.
It was once the location of Centralia, a bustling early 1900s timbering community with a large sawmill and its own rail line. The town lasted 30 years before the timber was tapped out.
Wild Turkey Trace starts directly across from Cypress Circle at its own fence and sign, to the west of the parking area.
Follow the green markers into sandhill habitat, where you may spy a fox squirrel as you hike under the sand live oaks.
While the habitat is sandy, it’s not very hilly. A corridor of mature turkey oaks shades a portion of the hike.
A highlight along the walk is a very boggy, fern-dense marsh.
Learn more about Chassahowitzka WMA
Hike the adjacent Cypress Circle
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Buffering Chassahowitzka WMA and considered an extension of it, Annutteliga Hammock Conservation Area protects 570 acres of sandhills and scrub while offering several loop hikes.
Delving deep into a hardwood hammock with towering trees, the loop trail at Fickett Hammock Preserve quickly immerses you into a shady forest of botanical beauty.
Trail Map (PDF) Hunt Dates Official Website