Exploring Palmettos and Pines
We were exploring central Florida on a four-day expedition-style trip. We'd started on the east side of the peninsula and wheeled our way to the west. We'd explored sandy two-track and forest trails. We had a couple more days in our 4WDs and more sites to see.
After a chilly night camping at Holder Mine Campground we were back in the dirt on the Citrus Tract in the Withlacoochee State Forest. Temperatures were warming and the weather was near perfect.
We visited the ghost town of Kerr City in Marion County. The townsite was platted in 1884, but about 10 years later the inhabitants left the citrus-growing area after a devastating freeze destroyed much of the fruit and trees there. The main street, Beulah Avenue, provided a stage route from the St. Johns River to the city of Ocala. Today the town is privately owned and a number of the old buildings remain. The town once had a large hotel, general store, pharmacy, church, sawmill, numerous Victorian-style homes, and a post office.
We continued to head west across the Florida Peninsula in Withlacoochee and stopped to explore several limestone caves a short hike into the forest. The caves had a number of access points, so we climbed and crawled our way into some underground rooms carved from rock.
The forest canopy provided a scenic backdrop and we found our way to the Croom Wildlife Management Area (WMA), where the hard-pack soil turned bright orange. We followed more dirt roads and off-road trails.
To this point, we hadn't encountered much in the way of mud on our trek, but that would soon change. We got into some of the mucky stuff and found deep ruts in the forest floor. Some of our rigs passed unassisted, while others found the need to pull winch cable or get tug assistance from one of the other drivers. We got everyone through and continued on to our final stretch of the trip. We crossed part of Richloam WMA where we found more water and soupy holes amongst pines, oaks, and cypress trees.
Over the four-day expedition we ventured from the east side of Florida towards the west and then turned south some distance, covering nearly 340 miles in all. We'd 'wheeled dirt, sand, and mud. We'd traveled some interesting backroads and explored some historic sites. Crossing Florida was a great trip with a great group of 'wheelers.