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 Crystal River, FL


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Hiking in Crystal River and Citrus County

Crystal River and Citrus County offer a wide variety of terrain for the interested hiker to experience. Sand hills, scrub land, hardwood hammocks, hydric swamps, prairie land, marsh areas and beaches are just a sample of the extreme range of hiking terrain to choose from in this area. Some trails are long and some are short. Most are dry, but some are wet. Some are natural and some are improved. All provide the hiker with nature's beautiful visual gifts.

The Withlacoochee is Florida's second largest state forest and probably the most popular for outdoor recreation and activities. You can backpack, hike for an afternoon, fish or hunt, explore caves, ride horses and even ride ATVs. Only about a two hour drive from the Orlando Resort area, the Withlacoochee is a great weekend backpacking and hiking adventure.

There are more than 92 miles of hiking trails throughout the Withlacoochee State Forest including segments of the western loop of the Florida National Scenic Trail. You can find various ecosystems ranging from bald cypress along the tannic Withlacoochee River, southern magnolia forests, miles and miles of slash pine scrub or dense concentrations of oak and maple in the northeastern sections of the forest.

The 11 different hiking trails offer numerous backpacking options. The trails are segmented into three districts - Richloam, Croom, and Citrus. Citrus provides the most opportunity for the more avid backpacker. The Citrus Tract houses some of the driest sections of the state forest. In times of drought, streams and ponds can completely dry out so plan your water resources carefully. There are several horse trails within this part of the forest so troughs are available. The water from the troughs can be potable if carefully filtered prior to ingestion. Potable water is also available at Holder Mine.

Holder Mine Recreational Area is one of the easiest entry points to the Citrus Tract to reach. The recreational area is just off SR 581 south of Inverness. Florida Trail signs are easily visible and identifiable. Be sure to sign the trail register prior to heading off into the forest.

Permits: No permits are required for utilizing the primitive campsite areas along the trails. Groups do need to register however and can do so by contacting the Visitors Center at (352)-754-6896. There is no charge for group permits.

Guides and maps: There is no shortage of guidebooks covering these trails and any will have good information on the basic trail areas - Croom, Richloam and Citrus. If you are planning to spend a full weekend or even longer it is advisable to obtain detailed maps identifying water sources and camping areas. You can download an order form for these at the Florida Trail Association's website.

Contact Information:

Withlacoochee State Forest
Visitors Center
15003 Broad St
Brooksville, FL 34601


Hiking suggestions:
  • Inform someone of your plans, including destination, route and return time.

  • Stay on path and trails. Always sign in where applicable and orientate yourself with a map.

  • Double check all equipment and supplies before starting your hiking adventure.

  • Always carry an ample amount of drinking water.

  • Learn the use of and carry a compass.

  • Extra socks is always a plus!

  • Check the weather forecast.

  • Plan restroom stops to avoid pollution

  • Carry trash bags and pack out your debris

  • Be prepared with insect repellant