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Withlacoochee Croom Tract Overview

Birding / Hiking / Adventuring Roadtrip Info

ROUGH DRAFT

Nov 2018

Contents

  1. Experience
GRADES: Click each for info, * = Note
Revisit? A
Birding B *
Wildlife A
Summer Heat B
Terrain D *
Fun Hike B
Maintained B
Mosquitos C
Biting Files B *
Ticks C *
NOTE: Especially night hawks and red headed woodpeckers
NOTE: C to D
NOTE: I've only been bitten in Smith Prairie
NOTE: Never had a problem
 LOCATION: Accuracy: Read me
Map On Big Map: Click map (or on google maps). Address: Middle of Forest, Brooksville, FL, Hernando, USA, 34602

Experience

We like the Croom Tract quite a bit - and we've tried to explore it pretty well so I made pages on each area of entry we've tried. CT = Croom Tract.

I suppose the main reasons are:

  • There is a lot of variation you can make between the forest roads and the different kinds of trails - state parks with a big wilderness can feel like you're only allowed to see this one little trail 100 times rather than just explore nature.
  • There are I suppose 3 pretty great general ecosystems. Dense oaks forest, tall pine with diverse undergrowth (not just saw palmettos), plus in some corners there is the river.
  • Altitude changes - you can miss it if you're not paying attention but it changes so much you enter different types of hikes. Just looking over somewhat open areas under tree canopies you can see the rolling hills. This is all altitude relative to Florida however.
  • Wildlife - lots of night hawks doing fascinating things, red headed woodpeckers, flocks of wild turkey, romping deer and randomly more (especially birds like tanagers etc).
  • Plant diversity - It doesn't seem like old growth exactly but you see plants here you don't see on every other trail that used to be a cattle pasture in living memory.



I'll go over my summary of places/roads/entrances first then show images from the official sources I modified to match my descriptions.

Entrances -

From I75 you can reach CT quickly from the south: Exit 301: US98, or the north: Exit 309: CR673

E2 - From South - I75 Exit 301, US98, then North on Croom Rital Road

E1 - From North - I75 Exit 309, CR 673 then South on Croom Rital Road

E4 - Tucker Hill/Brooksvillle entrance

E3 - Motorcylce Area - Never been

E5 - Hog Island and East Side of River

 

Roads:

A - Croom Rital Rd - Most frequently enter here. Pretty road, often see turkeys and deer here.

F - Nobleton Croom Road - Sometimes see deer here, a fox squirel, some entrance roads on here.

B - Croom Road - Goes from bike parking area to tucker hill

 

Places:

D - Croom Rital Bike Parking - First place we visited here after the River Trail. Bikers mostly use this area but it's a nice enough hiking entrance. Popular.

C - Florida Trail "Secret" Entrance - From the bike parking area if you head down Croom Road a bit there are white concrete pillars you can park at to reach the Florida Trail. Similar to Tucker Hill South - dense forest then powerline easement, then pine forest. Great hike. North from here is less interesting but we haven't gone as far.

19 area - Ridge Manor River Trail (next to Croom Tract) - The county owns this. Mostly dense oak forest. It takes awhile but you reach the Withlacoochie river. Nice hike.

20 - Smith Prairie - Seems like you're in hunter's territory most. Going north it's pine forest with interesting foliage. Birds mostly by road. North it's less just pine. Nice hike but less variation than Florida Trail entrances and biking trail entrance.

G - Side Road(s) on Nobleton Croom Rd. (same link as F) - There are a few place to pull over and walk along forest roads here.

17 - Tucker Hill General - This is basically the headquarters and probably the best trails. There's a fire tower - not many you can climb around but this one we hear you can. We haven't yet. This is a pretty substantial hill if you watch your altitude on your GPS while going down North or South Florida Trail - probably the trail most likely to make you winded that we've hiked in Florida. With that comes interesting changes in what you see.

(17) - Tucker Hill North - Starts as dense oak forest for awhile. Opens up into pines and campsite. Fun hike.

(17) - Tucker Hill South - Similar to North - the dense part lasts longer, crosses a powerline easement, then is like Smith Prairie pine forest. Best spot for seeing red headed woodpeckers and a lot of night hawks but it's feast or famine depending on the day. Great hike, very interesting.

23 - Hog Island - East side of river and I75, separate from most of the above. Beautiful, large, remarkable cypress trees, a short nature trail and a Florida Trail segment we haven't explored fully.

18 - Silver Lake - A recreation area more than a hiking area. A wide area in the river that looks like a lake. Admission required. We haven't been yet - haven't seen compelling pictures and we keep deciding on other spots.

22 -  Motorcycle Area - Area meant for scooters and off road vehicles to go nuts at. I'm sure there are access points here to parts of the forest but I haven't visited.

Trails:

The 2nd map below shows the Florida Trail segments of trails in CT. It's basically a large loop covering most of the forest with Croom Road in the center. There are shortcuts both north and south that make an overlapping shorter loop. Trails not show here: The biking area trail, the Smith Prairie trail, Hog Island trails, and Withlacoochie River Park. Hog island is a different thing but they could easily be more Florida Trail segments. I'm not including horse and bike trails. From what I can tell the horse trails tend to mostly stick with forest roads. Biking trails follow no pattern very intentionally and you'll see them cross the Florida Trail everywhere out there.

Nearby Parks:

Be sure to stop at Chinsegut 1, Chinsegut 2, Perry Oldenburg WMA, and McKethan Lake. They are all pretty great!

Maps:

General Map - Modified from official map pdf:

 General Map

 

 Trail map - modified from official brochure:

Trails Map

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