With its extensive trail systems for hiking, biking, horseback riding, canoeing, and camping, the World Wildlife Fund declared the forest as one of the “10 Coolest Places You’ve Ever Been in North America."
Located just a short drive from the Villages of Citrus Hills is Withlacoochee State Forest, the third largest forest in Florida. The Citrus Tract is 41,222 acres and provides a tremendous number of opportunities for Citrus Hills residents to get out and enjoy their wonderful natural environment.
Like most state parks and forests, Withlacoochee State Forest has all the amenities that you would expect to find; camping, fishing, boating, and hiking. But in addition to those activities, there are also areas devoted to off-road motorcycle and ATV riding and horseback riding.
Here are just a few of the highlights of Withlacoochee State Forest and Citrus County that make living here a great outdoor adventure!
Camping & Boating
There are many camping locations throughout Withlacoochee State Forest. Some of the most popular areas are Holder Mine Recreation Area, Mutual Mine Recreation Area, and Tillis Hill Recreation Area.
There are also many locations throughout the forest that are devoted to canoeing. The Withlacoochee South River, which flows directly through the forest, contains many points for canoes to enter or exit. Depending on the start and stop points, canoe enthusiasts can plan trips ranging from 3 miles all the way up to 14.4 miles.
Croom Motorcycle Area
The Croom Motorcycle Area at Withlacoochee State Forest is a haven for dirt bike and ATV riders. This 2600-acre facility offers courses and trails for riders of all skill levels. There is also a training area for riders who are just getting their feet wet. More experienced riders will enjoy the rougher trails that have been left as natural as possible.
The motorcycle park is open every day from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Riders who are looking to stay near the park for an extended period of time will be delighted to find that there is a campground here as well.
Withlacoochee State Trail
The Withlacoochee State Trail is currently the longest rail-trail in the state of Florida. The trail was originally part of Henry Plant’s railroad that ran from Croom to Inverness. Over the years, the rail line was part of the Atlantic Coast Line, the Seaboard Coast Line, and CSX Transportation. In 1989, CSX Transportation sold the line to the state of Florida so that it could be paved as part of their Rails to Trails program.
The current trail runs from Citrus Springs down to within six miles of Dade City, for a total of 46 miles. The trail takes its visitors through everything from suburbs, to small towns, to historic landmarks. The trail is popular for walking, biking, and skating. It also has areas where horseback riding is available. There are many locations along the trail that feature a wide variety of dining and hotel accommodations.
The Florida Trailtrotter Program
Withlacoochee State Forest contains two different horse trails that are featured in The Florida Trailtrotter Program. The Bear Head Hammock Horse Trail is 8.4 miles long, and the Little River Ranch Trail is 8 miles long.
According to the Trailtrotter Program, one of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of the state parks and forests in Florida is on horseback.
The Florida State Forest Trailwalker Program [Citrus_Hiking_Trail_Map-1] The Florida State Forest Trailwalker Program encourages Florida residents and visitors to experience the natural beauty of the state by exploring a number of different trails throughout each of the state forests.
There are a total of nine different trails in Withlacoochee State Forest that are part of the Trailwalker Program. There are a number of shorter trails like Mud Spring, McKethan Lake, Hog Island, Johnson Pond, and Oxbow that are all less than 2 miles long. There are also some longer trails like Richloam South, which is 12.3 miles long!
Whether you are looking for fast-paced dirt bike action, slow-paced canoe trails, or the experience of horseback riding through a natural environment, there are plenty of options available in Withlacoochee State Forest and along the Withlacoochee State Trail.
Considering its close proximity to Citrus Hills, it’s easy to see why this is a very popular outdoor destination for our residents.