With more than 155,000 acres spread over several counties, Withlacoochee State Forest is Florida’s second largest state forest. It is one of the most popular destinations in Central Florida for outdoor recreation.
The Western Corridor of the Florida Trail works its way through the Richloam, Croom, and Citrus Tracts of the forest, which have a variety of recreation areas with their own followings: camping, hunting, equestrian, off-road motorcycles, and even caving. Paddlers can enjoy the Withlacoochee River and its tributaries, while backpackers will appreciate the three long loop trails developed long ago by the Florida Trail Association.
For permits and questions:
Withlacoochee State Forest Visitor Center
15003 Broad Street
Brooksville, Florida 34601
Open 8-12 and 1-4:30, Mon-Fri
Destinations in Withlacoochee State Forest
- Citrus Hiking Trail- One of Florida's longest backpacking loops - and the longest within a single piece of public land - the Citrus Hiking Trail offers up to 43 miles of rugged and interesting terrain near Inverness
- Croom River Trail Loop- Using the Florida Trail and the Blue Loop Trail, hikers can explore a picturesque corner of Withlacoochee State Forest in Ridge Manor along a 3.9-mile loop.
- Florida Trail, Croom Hiking Trail- With three stacked loops containing 24.9 miles of marked footpaths, the Croom Hiking Trail is one of the oldest and driest loop hike destinations for backpackers on the Florida Trail.
- Florida Trail, Croom River Trail- A pleasant ramble on bluffs above the Withlacoochee River, the Croom River Trail segment of the Florida Trail tunnels through oak hammocks and slips around cypress swamps along its 6.3-mile journey.
- Good Neighbor Trail- Following a former narrow gauge railroad corridor from the main line at Croom to a depot built in 1885 in Brooksville, the Good Neighbor Trail is a 10.1-mile linear paved bike path that is part of the Coast to Coast Trail.
- Hog Island Nature Trail- For a dip into primordial wilderness along the Withlacoochee River, walk the Hog Island Nature Trail at Hog Island Recreation Area in Withlacoochee State Forest
- Johnson Pond Trail- Just south of the Withlacoochee River lies the Two Mile Prairie Tract of Withlacoochee State Forest, where the Johnson Pond Trail provides a walk through sandhills and oak scrub, touching on prairies along its 2.7-mile loop.
- Oxbow Trail- With two loops along an oxbow in the Withlacoochee River, the Oxbow Trail is the northernmost trail in Withlacoochee State Forest and a scenic short walk.
- Withlacoochee State Trail- Tracing 46 miles of railroad history down forested corridors, past big lakes and city parks, and through quaint communities with restaurants, bicycle shops, and restrooms: the Withlacoochee State Trail is one sweet ride.
More near Withlacoochee State Forest
- Biking the Good Neighbor Trail (Dec 2018)- A morning of exploration allowed us to experience the not-quite-open-yet Good Neighbor Trail and its historic context during our visit to Brooksville this September.
- The new 50 Hikes in Central Florida (Oct 2018)- We launched a new full-color edition of 50 Hikes in Central Florida at the National Trails Festival in Deland the first weekend of October. Take a peek inside.
- Beneath the Withlacoochee (Jan 2018)- Way down under the Withlacoochee State Forest, there's a whole other world waiting to be explored in its caves.
- Circling Central Florida on the Florida Trail (Sep 2015)- East vs. West: which is best? I hiked both as a loop, so here's a rundown of how the two corridors of the Florida Trail compare through Central Florida - and a little trail history.
- Where to find multi-day backpacking loops (Oct 2012)- Where are Florida's best backpacking loop hikes for 3 or more days on the trail? Here are the top suggestions and their pros and cons.
Maps for Withlacoochee State Forest
Note: Maps are in PDF format and supplied by state agencies.
Nearby: Brooksville, Bushnell, Crystal River, Dunnellon, Dade City, Inverness