Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park

Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park is one of Florida’s oldest state parks. It was developed in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. You can read more about the CCC here: https://www.history.com/topics/great-depression/civilian-conservation-corps. They helped build many of Florida’s state parks from 1933 through the beginning of World War II.

Entering the park, you’ll come to the ranger station on the right. There’s a fee of $5 per vehicle to enter the park, which is open from 8am to sundown every day of the year.

There are only about 7.2 miles of trail that go through this park, but 5.4 of those miles are part of the Florida Scenic Trail, which winds its way across about 1500 miles of the state. This means you can technically hike as short or as long as you want to go. The trails through this park are beautiful, with ecosystems ranging from pine flatwoods to oak hammock and sandy scrub.

There are three campground loops with seventy-three camp sites, two primitive camp sites, and three primitive group sites available for your camping needs. The campsites are all pretty good with decent privacy and a fair amount of space. Check the map when you reserve on https://reserve.floridastateparks.org/Web/Default.aspx to be sure the site you want has electricity if you want it. The sites in the middle of the loops only have water. There is a bathhouse available on each loop with showers and flush toilets, coin laundry, and a dishwashing sink. My favorite loop is Lakeview, but really all of them are perfectly acceptable.

There are sixteen cabins available. There’s a minimum two night stay for cabins. More information can be found here: https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/mike-roess-gold-head-branch-state-park/experiences-amenities-0#cabins

The day use area has several picnic pavilions and a whole lot of picnic tables spread about for your use. You can rent the pavilions, or the recreation hall for weddings, reunions, etc. There’s a lake with canoes available for rent. There’s also a playground. There’s a bathhouse with changing stalls and flush toilets near the lake. The lake is open for swimming. This is Florida, swim at your own risk. This amazing oak hammock is a lovely place for a picnic!

This park is about four hours from my house. If I were just going for the day, that would be a bit far for this particular park as there’s not a ton of stuff to do here. If you’re looking for a place to camp and relax though, Gold Head Branch is perfect! The vibe here is very peaceful. Many of the sites are hammock friendly, which is always a plus in my book. There are stores nearby, but the sites are very quiet with little to no road noise. It’s easily one of my top ten favorite places to camp in Florida.

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