Goethe State Forest is located in southeastern Levy County with the Watermelon Pond Unit located on within Levy and Alachua counties. It is named for Mr. J.T. Goethe who sold most of the land to the people of Florida in 1992 under Florida’s Conservation and Recreation Lands program.
A 53,587-acre state forest, Goethe State Forest is managed for wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation, timber production, and ecological restoration. There are 19 natural communities for you to enjoy including mesic flatwoods, dome swamp, sandhill, basin swamp, and the contiguous hydric hammock. Longleaf pine flatwoods and swamps dominate the forest. Be sure to look for the Goethe Giant among the old growth cypress.
The Goethe trail system has seven trailheads which are open during daylight hours. Pack a picnic lunch, put your dog on a leash and enjoy hiking, bicycling, or horseback riding. Be surer to check with FWC for hunting schedules before planning your trip
Black bears, gopher tortoises, Southern fox squirrels, and bald eagles are among the abundant wildlife who call Goethe State Forest home. You may even see an endangered red-cockaded woodpecker in one of Florida’s few remaining old-growth longleaf pine trees. Plant enthusiasts will enjoy searching for 34 different species of orchids!
Make a plan to get outside and enjoy a day at Goethe State Forest.
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Photo Credit- Andy Waldo
This park is home to one of Florida’s largest Cypress trees, Goethe Giant! You can also see pitcher plant bogs here which are really pretty.
This beautiful forest is also home to little Smokey Jr., a bear cub who was rescued from a wildfire and rehabilitated. One reason this spot was selected for his home is that the bear population in this area has been in trouble. Low genetic diversity is the problem. A long time ago us bears were almost hunted to extinction. That meant very few of us existed in small isolated areas. When bears mate their DNA combines to make all the traits for a cub. DNA is like a set of survival tools. If you have a variety of tools you can be really successful. If your tools are limited it’s very difficult to survive. Creating wildlife corridors and passages helps other bears with more DNA tools to reach the small population in these necks of the woods. Come on out to Goethe and see if you can spot one of us.