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Reported: December 2020

Goethe State Forest, Florida

5 Recreational Trail Systems, 120 Miles of Trail

Located on Florida's Gulf coast, west of Dunnellon and north of Crystal River, the State Forest covers 53,500+ acres. The forest includes 5 trail systems with 7 trailheads for activities includng hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, picnicking, camping, fishing, and wildlife viewing. 19 habitat communities includes sandhill, cypress swamp, scrub pine and a large tract of old-growth longleaf pines which support a population of endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Other wildlife include gopher tortoise eagles, black bear, deer, Sherman's fox squirrel and more. Part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, more than 100 species of bird have been identified.. Hunting is allowed, check for season dates. Use fee applies. (Map link and photos below.)

Goethe State Forest

Map Link...
Goethe State Forest

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Location: Levy and Alachua Counties
Mileage: 5 Trail systems, 120 miles of trails
Trailheads: Along CR337 (see map)
Surface: Grass, dirt, gravel
Nearby Points of interest: Cedar Key, Rainbow Springs State Park

Support and Advocacy:
Friends of Florida State Forests

Bike Shops/Rentals:



Goethe State Forest... Comments and Photos

The trails are better suited to hiking than biking, though mountain bikers (not us) will enjoy some challenges. Mountain biking is allowed on most but not all trails. We visited two areas, at Black Prong and Buck Island, and hiked sections. This trip though, we missed the Big Cypress Boardwalk and the Goethe Giant, a 900-year-old ancient cypress 9 feet in diameter. The trails can be muddy. Especially in summer, the bugs can be brutal. Few amenities, bring sunscreen, food and water.

Black Prong Trails

Three trails for hiking, mountain biking and equestrian riding run from the trailhead, green (8.5 miles), blue (6 miles) and orange (3.5 miiles) - portions overlap. The trailhead has parking, restrooms, and picnicking. The camp road is shared with bicycles.

Buck Island Trail

From CR337 (north of Dunnellon) a half mile road leads to the trailhead which includes parking and an informational kiosk. A Boardwalk near the parking area leads to the pond, with observation deck, picnic table, and good birdwatching. A 2 mile trail loops around the pond, through oak hammock, pineland, and sandhill restoration. The lower sections on the floodplain include cypress knees and can be muddy. Interpretative markers along the way describe the habitat and wildlife observed.

Trailhead and Boardwalk

On the Trail

More About Goethe State Forest:

The forest is named after J.T. Goethe (J.T. Goethe Lumber Company), from whom the land was purchased in 1992. Another section added later (2007) is the Watermelon Pond Unit (4,200 acres). Hunting is allowed in the Goethe Wildlife Management Area (45,000 acres), and in the Watermelon Pond Wildlife and Environmental Area. The Florida Forest Service manages the forest for wildlife management, recreation, timber production, and habitat restoration.

Nearby Biking:

Dunnellon Trail
Cedar Key
Inglis Dam Recreation Area

Nearby Paddling:

Withlacoochee River (South) at PaddleFlorida.net


Florida Forest Service - Goethe State Forest


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