Hiking & Camping
Hiking and Camping in the Goethe State Forest
This State Forest was named for Mr. J.T. Goethe, from whom most of the land was purchased under Florida's Conservation and Recreation Lands (CARL) Program in 1992. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Forestry, was given lead management responsibility for the Goethe State Forest. Using sound ecosystem management, the Division of Forestry provides for multiple uses of the forest resources which includes timber management, wildlife management, outdoor recreation and ecological restoration.
The main area of Goethe State Forest is located in the southeastern portion of Levy County near the Gulf of Mexico. A smaller area of Goethe State Forest, called Watermelon Pond Unit, is separate from the main tract and is located in both Levy and Alachua Counties.
Goethe State Forest has more than 15 different natural communities. A few examples are scrubby flatwoods, dome swamp, sandhill, and basin swamp. Goethe State Forest may contain the largest tract of contiguous, old-growth longleaf pine flatwoods in the state.
This extensive old-growth forest has one of the largest red-cockaded woodpecker populations on state lands in Florida. Other rare animal species found on the forest include the Florida black bear, gopher tortoise, Sherman's fox squirrel and bald eagle. Rare plants include the hooded pitcher plant and coontie.
The Goethe Trail System extends throughout the forest with access available at three separate trailheads. The forest is open during daylight hours for visitors to enjoy picnicking, hiking, bicycling, fishing, wildlife viewing, and horseback riding. All horseback riders must have proof of current negative Coggins Test results for their horses when on state lands. Overnight camping is allowed by permit only. However, private campgrounds are located near the forest. Goethe State Forest contains 2 hiking trails (Tidewater and Black Prong) that are included in the Florida Division of Forestry's Trailwalker Program
Goethe State Forest is open to regulated hunting and fishing under the direction of the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. We encourage non-hunting recreationists to check the Wildlife Management Area regulations and season dates before visiting Goethe State Forest.
In keeping with its mission to protect and manage Florida's forest resources, the Division of Forestry has developed rules which apply to all State Forest visitors. READ MORE
Explore Florida's forests...one step at a time
Do you enjoy the outdoors? Are you a frequent visitor to Florida's state forests? Maybe you've wanted to explore them but haven't had the opportunity. You are now holding your ticket to a grand tour of Florida's state forests: The Florida State Forests Trailwalker Program.
The best way to learn about a state forest is to experience it first hand, and this is what the Florida State Forests Trailwalker program is all about.
Reap the benefits
The benefits are many when you participate in the Florida State Forests Trailwalker Program. You get to improve your level of physical fitness at your own rate. Your only competitor is yourself.
Also, you get to experience the beauty of Florida's State Forests. The opportunity to have personal experience with nature is rare these days, and this program will give you that opportunity. Finally, you will feel the pride of accomplishment. So find the nearest state forest on your Trail List and get started. We've got your trails cut out for you.
Here's what you need to do:
1. Walk a total of ten trails in a minimum of five state forests, selecting trails from the Trail List. At the trailhead of each trail you hike, obtain one pre-paid postal survey card for the trail. Fill it in and put in the mail after you complete the hike.
2. Print the Trailwalker's Log and record your progress. As you send in your postal survey cards, you will be sent a sticker for each one. You will affix this sticker next to the entry for each trail you hike.
3. When you have hiked and logged your ten trails, complete the Trailwalker's Log and mail it in. Then you will receive a beautiful Trailwalker Patch that you can sew on your favorite shirt or hiking vest, plus a certificate commemorating your achievement signed by the Commissioner of Agriculture, Charles H. Bronson
Info courtesy Florida Division of Forestry