Richloam/Green Swamp West
Length: 30 miles (linear) from SR 471 to Ridge Manor plus 25.9 mile loop
The Green Swamp offers a variety of plants, animals, and topography. There are mile-wide pastures, extensive riverine swamps, and relict sand dunes supporting longleaf pine, turkey oak, and wiregrass. The trail passes through many large oak hammocks as well as pine flatwoods, palmetto prairies, and cut-over timber lands which are being allowed to regenerate. One segment of trail overlooks the Withlacoochee River and its rapids some twenty feet below. Deer, feral pigs, alligators, fox, bobcat, otter, and armadillos are frequently seen. There are scrub jays, sandhill cranes, marsh hawks, and many types of waterfowl.
Continuing through the vast Green Swamp, the Florida Trail turns north and parallels the Withlacoochee River’s flow towards the Gulf of Mexico, with views from high bluffs. The north end of this segment traverses the Richloam Tract of the Withlacoochee State Forest
. Much of the southern extent of Richloam is low-lying cypress swamp along the Withlacoochee, but well-developed pine forests cover the higher elevations, deeply blanketing the trail in a carpet of soft pine needles. The loop trail provides an excellent weekend backpacking outing, and leads through and past some interesting features, including a forest of eucalyptus trees, ancient live oaks, and deep sinkholes. The loop trail can be accessed from several road crossings to take shorter day hikes as well.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.