What to do in Gold Head Branch State Park

Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park is located on rolling sandhills in an area known as the central ridge of Florida. A deep ravine with springs issuing from its side bisects the area and forms Gold Head Branch. Marshes, lakes and scrub provide a habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) developed the park on a 2,000-acre site during the 1930s. The extraordinary craftsmanship of the CCC is still evident today.

Gold Branch State Park rests on nearly 2,100 acres and rests on several lakes including Little Lake Johnson and Big Lake Johnson, which are the fishing, and boating lakes. Others provide scenic wildlife viewing. A large picnic area with tables and grills overlooks Little Lake Johnson. Eight pavilions of varying sizes accommodates between 16 and 100 people. These too have tables and grills. Calling the park may reserve them. Rates range from $35 - $70 per day. A children's playground is centrally located in the picnic area. A designated lakeshore swimming area is located adjacent to the picnic area and within easy walking distance from the cabins. No lifeguards are provided. Canoeing and canoe rentals are available for $4 per hour, $10 per half day and $20 per day. Several nature trails of varying length from a short 10-minute walk to a several hour hike are offered. These trails meander through the parks diverse habitats of open sand hills, lush ravine system with its seepage springs and flowing stream and lakes. The Florida Trail traverses the park for approximately 3 miles. A primitive campsite is available to distance hikers. It is located about midway in the park's trail segment located off a short spur just beyond the intersection with Ridge Nature Trail. You'll have the opportunity to see such wildlife as the Sherman's fox squirrel, southeastern kestrel, red tailed hawks, bald eagles, various water and wading birds, fox, and deer.

Recreations available at Gold Head Branch include camping, hiking, swimming, sunbathing, picnicking, canoeing, and biking. Cabins are available for rent.

Gold Head is located in northeast Florida midway between Gainesville and Jacksonville, 6 miles north of Keystone Heights on State Route 21.

Summers in northeastern Florida are hot and humid with frequent afternoon thunderstorms. Summer temperatures average in the low 80's Fahrenheit (27 - 28 Celsius). Mild winter temperatures average below 52 degrees Fahrenheit (below 11 Celsius). Freezing temperatures are infrequent but windy conditions are common. The average precipitation for the northeast area is between 52 and 56 inches per year. Light, loose fitting clothing is recommended in spring, summer and fall. Layered clothing is recommended for winter. Biting insects are common throughout the year and are especially heavy from late April through early June.

6239 State Route 21
Keystone Heights, FL 32656

Phone: 352-473-4701

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