The footbridge across the Gold Head Branch ravine at Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park

Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps on this 2,000-acre property on the central ridge of Florida back in the 1930's. Gold Head Branch is a spring-fed stream flowing at the bottom of a deep ravine. The stream feeds a series of marshes and lakes in the scrub habitat, making this a great place to find wildlife.

Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park offers several nature trails and a three-mile stretch of the Florida Trail. The large picnic area offers tables and grills, all overlooking Little Lake Johnson. The park also offers several fully-equipped lakefront cabins (built by the CCC) and a full-facility campground (74 sites, each with picnic table, grill, electric and water) in addition to group and primitive sites. Each of the three campgrounds have centrally located restrooms and showers.

The park also offers canoe rentals ($4 per hour, $10 per 1/2 day, $20 per day) and fishing. In addition to the four marked hiking trails on the property there's a seven-mile trail ride for folks on horseback. The riding trail is rated as intermediate because there is some soft sand in spots. Riders must present a current negative Coggins test at the Ranger Station when registering.

For day use, Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park is open from 8 am to sunset every day of the year. Admission fees: $5 per vehicle with 2 to 8 occupants. $4 per single occupant vehicle. $2 each for pedestrians, bicyclists and extra passengers. Camping: $20 per site per night (plus tax), includes water and electric for a max of eight people or one family per site. The eight rustic cabins each rent for $65 per night (plus tax) or $425 per week (plus tax). The five block cabins each rent for $75 per night (plus tax) or $490 per week (plus tax). Either of the two ADA accessible cabins rent for $100 per night (plus tax). The cabins have a minimum two-night stay on the weekends.

To get there: go about six miles north of Keystone Heights on State Route 21.