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Hiking in Withlacoochee State Forest

By TERRY TOMALIN, Times Outdoors Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 5, 2000


photo
[Times art: Earl Towery]

With more than 140,000 acres of wilderness to explore, Withlacoochee State Forest has hiking/backpacking trails that will challenge beginners as well as experts.

The Richloam Tract, 10 miles north of Dade City, has several combinations of 5- to 10-mile loops. The Croom Tract, located east of Brooksville, has three loops that make good day hikes. And the Citrus tract, southwest of Inverness, has a variety of walks ranging in lengths up to 40 miles.

Pick a distance you feel comfortable with. Figure on a walking pace of 2 or 3 miles per hour. Remember, hiking is supposed to be fun. Give yourself time to enjoy the scenery.

If you are just out for the day, bring a small backpack for field guides and sunscreen. Carry plenty of water. Figure on at least a quart per person, more if you are walking under the hot sun.

The trails are well marked, but it is advisable to have an idea of where you're going before you set out. To play it safe, bring a flashlight, matches and a compass.

Be sure to let a friend or family member know where you are and when you plan to be back.

To find out more about hiking and backpacking in Withlacoochee State Forest, call (352) 754-6896.

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