Green Swamp East
Length: 25.4 miles (linear) plus 9.7 mile loop
Unlike most of the swamps along the Florida Trail, the Green Swamp is more dry than wet. Encompassing 870 square miles across five counties, it’s a vast watershed of pine forests and cypress swamps where four of the state’s major rivers (Ocklawaha, Peace, Hillsborough, Withlacoochee) are born, each flowing away in a different direction.
This segment of trail leads you down a rural roadwalk on Deen Still Road past cattle ranches and orange groves; look for unusual sandstone formations along the road. The trail follows the Van Fleet State Trail for several miles before returning to rural roads up to the entrance to the Green Swamp East WMA.
Re-entering the forest, you parallel the northwesterly course of the Withlacoochee River. After periods of heavy rain, you’ll wade through some of the cypress floodplains. In several places, the trail briefly shares forest roads with limited vehicular traffic and equestrians. However, this is a wild and beautiful section of trail with a lot of wildlife. Look for Sherman’s fox squirrels in the sandhills, and deer in the open flatwoods understory. The white-blazed loop trail at the Rock Ridge Road trailhead provides a long day hike or a short overnight backpacking trip.