Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park

6239 S.R. 21, Keystone Heights, 32656
(352) 473-4701
Daily, 8:00am to sundown


One of Florida’s first state parks, the Civilian Conservation Corps developed this unusual site in the 1930s. The lush ravine slope-forest is popular with migratory songbirds in season, including Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Swainson’s Thrush, Prairie Warbler and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Birding along the shady, cool Gold Head Branch on the aptly-named Fern Loop is a special treat. For longer adventures, 3 miles of the Florida National Scenic Trail traverse the park through sandhills and scrub, and along the upper ridge of the 1.5-mile-long ravine. Red-headed and Hairy Woodpeckers use standing snags in the area, and Bald Eagles and Swallow-tailed Kites frequent the park’s lakes. Wild Turkeys and Northern Bobwhites are common in the morning along the road through the sandhills on the drive into the park, as are American Kestrels and Red-tailed Hawks. Check the lakefronts for Hooded Mergansers and American Bittern in the winter and resident wading birds such as Wood Stork and Great Blue Heron. Uncommon birds on the park’s list include Greater White-fronted Goose and Henslow’s Sparrow. By camping on-site, you have access to the property at night to listen for Eastern Screech-owls and Chuck-will’s-widows (spring and summer). For scheduled programs and events, call in advance for details and reservations.

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