Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park
Florida is home to 175 state parks. Each one of these parks offers a different experience. If you happen to be seeking privacy, quiet, and access to a lot of hiking, then Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park is where you want to go.
This well kept secret is located approximately halfway between Jacksonville and Gainesville, putting it in a location where most people don’t venture, especially tourists. That should pique your interest right away. There is a lot more that will pique your interest. We’ll cover all of it below, including details for RV camping.
What Makes The Park Special?
In addition to the information above, this park offers 2,300 acres of rolling sandhills and long leaf pine lakes. If you’re quietly enjoying the scene, it’s likely you will see deer. If you’re lucky, you might spot a fox, turkey, woodpecker, or even a bald eagle. Whether you see wildlife or not, you will almost never hear a plane, and you will most certainly never hear a motorized boat. When you’re here, you are completely one with nature. You can kick back and simply enjoy the birds and the breeze.
The park offers three types of camping: tent, primitive, and RV. For RV’s, there are 73 sites. Most of the campsites are very large compared to other Florida state parks. If you want to be on the lake, reserve Site 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, or 74. If you want shade, reserve Site 46, 47, or 48.
All campsites have clean bathrooms, pavilions, grills, and a fire ring. In most cases, you will find the campsite to be extremely quiet. However, it happens on occasion where a loud party moves in. Even if you have peace and quiet, there are a couple of negatives, but they’re nothing major.
One, the dump station is far from most sites and difficult to access due to large trees surrounding it. This will be more of an issue for RVs with a 5th wheel. The other minor negative is a small entrance/exit. For example, if you’re trying to leave when another RV is trying to enter, it’s not going to be a simplest process. That said, if you remain patient, it shouldn’t be a problem.
RV camping at Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park costs $20 per night with a $6.70 reservation fee. Water and electric are included, but there is no electric for Sites 57 and Sites 60-67. You can have a maximum of eight people per site. To reserve a campsite please visit their page on Reserve America.
If you’re considering renting a picnic pavilion, a small pavilion is $35 per day, a medium pavilion is $45 per day, and a large pavilion is $70 per day. If you would like to rent the recreational building, it’s $125 per day.
Hiking and relaxing are the two most popular activities here. In regards to hiking, there is a 5.44-mile stretch of the Florida National Scenic Trail, Ridge Trail is 1.1 miles, the Loblolly Trail is 1 mile, and the Fern Loop Trail is 0.8 miles. If you have a bicycle with you, there is three miles of pavement to ride. You can also ride to State Road 21 at the entrance of the park to access the six-mile connector trail to Palatka-to-Lake Butler State Trail.
If you want to take advantage of the lakes, Little Lake Johnson is the largest lake in the park and has a roped-off area for swimming. You can also fish and rent canoes here. Canoe rentals are $4 per hour, $10 for four hours, and $20 for eight hours. If you want a quieter fishing spot, use Pebble Lake. And if you want to unwind at the quietest lake in the park, go to Devil’s Wash Basin at the north end of the park. It’s only accessibly by trail and is very remote.
One of the best parts about camping here is that you have easy access to Keystone Heights and Melrose for small town charm, including shopping and dining. You won’t find any big corporations or Walmarts in these parts.
Other nearby attractions include Ravine Gardens State Park, Deep Spring Farm, Coon Hollo Farm, San Felasco Hammock State Park, Rooterville, the Rice Creek Conservation Area, and the Endangered Animal Rescue Sanctuary. You will also be less than one hour from Disney and Epcot, as well as other Orlando attractions.
This is the ideal park for those who want a unique experience in regards to peace and quiet. It’s a rustic park, but that’s what gives it its charm. Not much can beat sitting in a lawn chair at the edge of the lake and listening to the way the world was meant to be. You can also go exploring and leave the park for modern-day activities whenever you please.