Withlacoochee State Forest
Wetlands at Withlacoochee State Forest
"Withlacoochee" is a Native American word that means "crooked river." Jumper Creek, the Little Withlacoochee River and Withlacoochee River itself are all designated Outstanding Florida Waters. The Withlacoochee River spends 13 miles of its 70-mile journey from the Green Swamp in northern Polk County to the Gulf of Mexico at Yankeetown in crossing Withlacoochee State Forest.
With 157,479 acres, Withlacoochee State Forest is the third largest state forest in Florida. Headquarters for the Withlacoochee State Forest is located about 7 miles north of Brooksville on US Highway 41 but the forest is spread out in seven tracts across west central Florida. Parts of the state forest are found in Pasco, Hernando, Citrus and Sumter Counties.
The forest that is now Withlacoochee was assembled by the federal government between 1936 and 1939. Private lands were acquired under the provisions of the US Land Resettlement Administration and the federal government held the property until a lease-purchase agreement was worked out with the Florida Board of Forestry in 1958.
Today, the World Wildlife Fund has declared Withlacoochee State Forest to be one of the "10 Coolest Places You've Never Been in North America."
The forest offers miles and miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails. There are miles of canoe/kayak routes on the forest, too. The Croom Motorcycle Area even offers 2,600 acres of off-road facilities for ATV's and motorcycles.
For campgrounds, there are several and they offer everything from primitive to full-facilities and group camping areas. The forest also has several day use areas with facilities for picnicking and wildlife watching. Withlacoochee State Forest is also part of both the Florida Scenic Trail and the Great Florida Birding Trail.
The majority of Withlacoochee State Forest is also a designated State Wildlife Management Area with seasonal hunting opportunites. Fishermen will find the forest's waterways teeming with panfish and largemouth bass.
One of the entry points to Withlacoochee State Forest
On Croom Road in Withlacoochee State Forest
Visitor Center hours: 8 am to noon, 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Monday through Friday except holidays