GOLD HEAD BRANCH STATE PARK
One of Florida?s first state parks, Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park was developed on a 2,000-acre site by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the 1930s. The extraordinary craftsmanship of the CCC is still evident today. 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.
Visitors to the park can enjoy hiking and wildlife viewing along the park?s nature trails and a three-mile stretch of the Florida Trail. For aquatic recreation, visitors can swim or fish in the lake, or spend a lazy afternoon canoeing. A large picnic area, with tables and grills, overlooks Little Lake Johnson. Nestled under the trees is a full-facility campground. Group and primitive campsites are available as are fully equipped lakefront cabins, some of which were built by the CCC.
Wildlife at Gold Head Branch State Park is abundant. The park serves as home for white-tailed deer, turkey, gopher tortoise, fox squirrels, pocket gophers, red tailed hawk, bald eagles, fox, and various water and wading birds.
Acquisition began in 1936 with an unknown funding source. Subsequent acquisitions were funded by the Park Board, LATF and CARL/P2000.
Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park is significant in the twentieth century history of Florida as one of nine elements of the New Deal-inspired Florida state park system and as one of the physical expressions of early- twentieth century recreation planning. In 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was the first New Deal agency to begin operations in Florida. From 1933 to 1942, the CCC and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) programs constructed an impressive collection of facilities throughout Florida. A considerable portion of the public recreation facilities created by these programs is preserved in the state park system?s New Deal era parks: Florida Caverns State Park, Torreya State Park, Fort Clinch State Park, O?Leno State Park, Gold Head Branch State Park, Ravine State Gardens, Hillsborough River State Park, Highlands Hammock State Park and Myakka River State Park.
Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park was added to the state park system in 1935. CCC camp SP-5 was installed in July of 1935 at the southern end of the park. The official dedication of the park took place on April 15, 1939, and the CCC camp was deactivated in March 1940 (Historic Property Associates 1989).
Annual Entrance Passes can be purchased at all park ranger stations and museums. If you require immediate use of your pass, this is the best option. Passes can be purchased during regular business hours 365 days a year. Please call the park in advance to ensure availability. Those who are eligible for discounted or free passes may use this method to receive their pass. Annual Entrance Passes may be purchased online by visiting the FLORIDA STATE PARKS ANNUALENTRANCE PASSES
There are 74 individual campsites available within our 3 campgrounds. These campsites will accommodate tents, trailers and motorized campers up to 40ft in length. Each site includes a picnic table, grill and water. Lakeview sites 57 through 67 do not have electric hook up.
There are 3 group campsites available for organized groups such as churches, scouts, family reunions and civic clubs. Each site has shared access to water, an outside cold water shower and restroom with flush toilets. No electric is available. Also provided are picnic tables and a ground fire ring. Each site will accommodate 25 people. Group campsites are equipped for tent camping only.
Two primitive campsites are located within the southern end of the park just off the Florida Trail. These sites include a picnic table, fire ring and a pavilion. There is no water or electricity in the primitive campground.
The primitive camping area is unable to be accessed by vehicle. You will have to hike approximately one half mile from the picnic area to the campsites.
To help keep our park clean for you and other visitors, campers are required to pack all supplies in and out of the area.
Our RV campsites offer water, electricity, and a ground grill and picnic table. A dump station is in close proximity for your use. The Sandhill and Lakeview camps can accommodate RV?s up to 45? in length.
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There is a designated swimming area that is located adjacent to the picnic area and within easy walking distance from the cabins. Please be prepared to monitor children and non-swimmers; no lifeguard is on duty.
Our beach is on fresh water Little Lake Johnson. The swimming area is located in the main use area of the park and there are plenty of tables in the adjacent area for visitor enjoyment. The lake is fed from a seepage spring that travels through a ravine and eventually making its way to the lake.
Enjoy the beauty of Little Lake Johnson by canoe. Canoe rentals are available.
Fishing is permitted at Gold Head. Little Lake Johnson has a population of pan fish, catfish and bass. The lake levels are low currently and fishing is not as good as it can be. Licenses are required.