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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
General Map - Modified from official map pdf:
Trail map - modified from official brochure:
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