Typical view [?]
NOTE: You could spend a week exploring this forest (not just this entrance)
LOCATION: Accuracy: Read me
It's got very little swamp in it - it's a forest. Imagine an egg shaped forest. The top half is Richloam. The bottom left is the west green swamp, the bottom right is the east green swamp. It's all one large forest. The McNeil entrance is entering the west green swamp from the road that goes between the east and west. There are dirt roads you can follow, locally marked trails, and the Florida Trail going through here. It's fairly shaded with pines and oaks but you have areas that are wetter and wide open. It's an interesting hike to repeat because it varies - it's not always the same thing. I'll often see one person on a few hour walk - you mostly feel like it's just you alone in the woods. The primitive camp area (gator hole) is fun and the car camping site (McNeil) has the Withlacoochee river go right next to it.
Forest birds plus some water birds. It has enough open tree canopy that you see some. A lot of barred owls, kingfishers, etc
I see much less than I expect here - I think it's because it's a popular hunting spot. I do see a lot of pygmy rattlers though. They like to hang out on the side of the trail so might want to look down more often here. Fireflies here at night. Someone saw a bear here in like 2017.
There's probably a chem toilet at the car camping spot but that's it.
When you go up highway 471 past Colt Creek State Park you turn left right after the bridge. As in put your blinker on before hand because people behind you probably won't expect you to be stopping here.
No complaints - never had trouble with walking through enormous weeds or anything.
You can just go for an hour walk and turn around but I'd give it a minimum of a few hours and you could spend several days going on the trails.
When you arrive there will probably be a few cars and you might see one group of people while out there. To the right by the big sign you can enter the Florida Trail (FT). The gate on the left you can enter if you're car camping or hop over and walk along the road. There's a grass jeep trail that goes off to the right about 30 minutes in and you can cross over to the FT - it's close. If you walk 3.2 miles on the dirt road you'll reach the McNeil campground. The Withlacoochee river goes right next to it but not sure it's worth the long walk just to see that. The FT also goes back over that bridge and across the street to the East Green Swamp. I almost got shot by an out of season archery hunter here... it gets very different across the street. Also crossing that bridge is unnerving. There's what looks like a pedestrian protected area on the side of the bridge but it's way too skinny to walk in... and a lot of semis go across this bridge really fast so it feels dangerous.
Taking the FT in - in the rainy season this can flood for long periods of time. In that case just take that paved road and cross over. However it's a pretty forest path. Eventually you will hit a deep sandy jeep trail/road and there seem to be the most wildlife here. There are white blazed trails that go to different places and more jeep trail/roads that you can explore forever. If you're just following the FT however you leave this road back to the forest for awhile and the "Gator Hole" primitive camp is here. I've been here a lot and I've never seen an alligator - ponds aren't even all that close to it. It is a fun place to camp at though. You have to make a reservation online to stay here but I think it's free. In winter you'll probably have other people here on weekend nights but it's not often too many people. The camp has an interesting pine forest near it and behind the camp that road isn't visible but it's not far. You hear all kinds of wildlife at night, you get fireflies, and there are billions of those wolf spiders whose eyes light up when you shine a flashlight. It's like being watched by thousands of spiders - very creepy at first. The camp site has a fire ring and a sometimes broken picnic bench.
If you walk past gator hole you'll cross that sandy road again and before long there's this 20ft hill overlooking a pond and if you turn left from the top of that there's a white blaze trail to another primitive camp next to a large open expanse/swamping area.
If you keep exploring there is more but those are the opening highlights. You can walk from here all the way across to the main entrance to the West Green Swamp - I discuss that on it's own page.
I've never been bitten by a pygmy rattler but I see a lot here always camping out extended from the side of the trail into the trail. Might want to keep an eye out especially if you aren't wearing boots.
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