Another one of my recommended fall wildflower hikes is one or all four looped trails in the sandhills of the Citrus Wildlife Management tract of the Withlacoochee State Forest. Comprised of over 50,000 acres, this tract is the largest contiguous tract of natural sandhill habitat in the Florida peninsula. These hikes are not for the faint of heart. They can be strenuous at times as they lead you up and down rolling hills for an almost constant change in elevation
The sandhills of the Withlacoochee State Forest in Citrus County become a natural flower garden during the fall as the wildflowers show their colorful blooms. The trails in Citrus WMA consist of four stacked loops that mount to over 43 miles of trails that are maintained by the Florida Trail Association. At the top of the ridges take in the sweeping views of the scenic longleaf pine forests. Look for bright yellows of the bitterweed and partridge pea complimented by the purple shades of paintbrush, liatris, ironweed, and the delicate flower of the blue curls. Splashes of white paper-like blooms from the sandhill wireweed, square stems, and the dainty sand squares decorate the open sandy disturbed areas. This tract also boast plenty of wildlife as it is home to the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers, gopher tortoise, and the protected elusive fox squirrel. Whitetailed deer, bob white quail, great horned owls, and common nighthawks can also be encountered along the trails.
Each loop can be hiked as a long day hike or backpacked with three primitive campsites along the loops and two major campgrounds sites. Holder Mine camping area has 27 sites along Forest Road 10 with RV-hook-up, electric, water, showers, restrooms, and a dump station. The Mutual Mine Campground maintains 13 sites in a horseshoe formation facing a manmade lake left over from previous mining activity. There are restrooms here but no showers or electricity. Located off FR 16 this campground positions the hikers best for trekking the C and D loops.
Directions: From US 41 turn left on Stage Coach Road (SR 480) and follow to CR 581, turn north and follow CR 581 for several miles to FR 16 for the Mine Holder Campground or continue north to FR 10 for the Mutual Mine Campground. Click here for a map of the Forest Roads in Citrus WMA
For more information or photos on these hikes visit my blog Riverbanks Adventure Forum at the following links:
Citrus Loop A
Citrus Loop B
Citrus Loop C
Citrus Loop D