Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park is just 20 minutes away from our North Central Florida inn, Hampton Lake Bed & Breakfast. The historic state park is located between Gainesville and Jacksonville, six miles north of Keystone Heights on SR 21.
The park was developed in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the first New Deal agency to begin operations in Florida. The CCC constructed a number of parks and facilities throughout Florida during the 1930’s and Gold Head Branch State Park was one of the first. The CCC’s extraordinary craftsmanship is still in evidence in the park today and one reason to visit.
Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park acreage is varied and interesting. It consists of rolling sandhills, marshes, lakes, scrub, and a deep, spring-filled ravine. The ravine that bisects the area is the source of Florida’s Gold Head Branch river.
Nature trails lead down into the ravine and follow the Gold Head Branch to Little Lake Johnson. Here you can hop in a canoe and do some relaxing paddling. Other hiking trails explore the sandhills, scrub and ancient sinkholes that are now lakes. More than 5 miles of the Florida National Scenic Trail runs through the park as well.
Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park also contains abundant wildlife. The park’s habitat supports gopher tortoises, white-tailed deer, bald eagles, fox, wild turkeys, pocket gophers, and a variety of waterfowl. It’s a great place for birding and wildlife photography.
Other activities available in the park include fishing, swimming, equestrian trails for horseback riding, and camping. Little Lake Johnson offers a beach and picnic area with tables and grills, pavilions, and a playground. 3 full-facility campgrounds, primitive campsites, and cabins round out the facilities.
Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park
6239 State Route 21 Keystone Heights, Florida 32656
The park is open from 8am until sundown, 365 days a year. Learn more online at www.floridastateparks.org.