This property lies along the southern bank of the Withlacoochee River at the northern end of the Tsala Apopka Lake system. The Withlacoochee River is designated as an Outstanding Florida Water, which makes the river highly suitable for recreation, fishing and wildlife. This location on the river is very attractive to recreation users seeking to experience a serene canoe ride or pleasurable hike along the riverbank.
The property has a variety of natural upland and wetland plant communities. Of particular interest is the mosaic of sandhill and xeric hammock/scrub communities and cypress swamps, which are quality habitat for a variety of wildlife. The large sandhill community on the property is an outstanding native landscape. Johnson Pond is a 24-acre sandhill upland lake in the northeast portion of the property that offers a vista of natural landscapes.
Purchased jointly by the state of Florida and the District, one of the primary purposes for acquisition of the property is its ability to provide significant water recharge and natural flood control. The District completed a hydrologic restoration project that allows excess waters from the Hernando Pool to be moved to storage and recharge areas in the Two Mile Prairie marsh system. Ecosystem benefits include wetland restoration, flood protection and increased groundwater recharge. The Florida Forest Service (FFS) manages the property as a part of the Withlacoochee State Forest.
- Site 59 on western section of Great Florida Birding Trail.
- Contact Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for more information.
- Primitive camp located at Oxbow Trailhead.
- Equestrian camp located at Bear Head Hammock.
- 8.3-mile marked trail, part of FFS’s Trailtrotter program, located at CR 491 access point.
- Parking area large enough to accommodate horse trailers.
- No water available at access point or along trail.
- Riders are required to stay on marked trails.
- Florida law requires equestrians under 16 to wear helmets.
- Allowed on Withlacoochee River and Johnson Pond.
- Contact FWC for license requirements.
- 2.8 mile marked trail, part of FFS’s Trailwalker program, located at access point off CR 491.
- Contact FFS for other possible hiking opportunities.
Access and Parking
- Primary access off CR 491 approximately one mile east of US 41. This entrance is for hiking, nature study and horseback riding.
- Two additional access points located off each side of CR 39. Access point on south side of road provides access to trails to Johnson Pond.