Enjoy Wildlife Viewing & Star Gazing
Little effort is needed to see wildlife at this state park. White tailed deer tend to walk/graze through camping sites or on the side of the road. Its always exciting to spot deer! Throughout our stay we spotted turtles, cottontail rabbits, wild turkeys and so many birds. Mike Roess Gold Head Branch is located away from city lights making it a great place to view the sky. Make sure to pack your telescope. The playground and picnic area make great spots to view the sky.
Mike Roess Goldhead Branch State Park
Goldhead State Park is one of the originals created during World War II under Franklin Roosevelt and the CCC. The lakes were big with lots of fish and the cabins were rustic. Now the lakes are almost dried up and the cabins have been renovated with aluminum siding and air conditioning. We were able to stay in the park for 3 weeks as they were not really busy except during the holiday weekend. There are three separate camping areas. One is designated for tents and smaller travel trailers called Sandhill and two for larger travel trailers and RVs called Turkey Oak and Lakeview. Sandhill and Turkey Oak are located next to each other in the middle of the park. Lakeview is situated around Lake Johnson just past the cabins. There isnt a lot left of Big Lake Johnson just a lot of grass and in the center a small pond. Needless to say, the boat ramp is no longer utilized.
We were told that you can fish from shore in the day use area but that the fishing was not very good these days. We could see that what water was left in Little Lake Johnson where the swimming, playground and picnic area is located doesnt really entice you to swim or even fish. You can still canoe or kayak on the lake. While we were there we saw a deer, a rabbit, a baby rattler, a gopher turtle crossing the road and an eagle flying over the camping area every morning.
Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park6239 State Road 21
Gold Head State Park In Keystone Heights
Experience the real Florida Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park.
Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park is one of Floridas oldest state parks. The park was created by the Civilian Conservation Core in the 1930s, opening its doors on 1941. With a total of sixteen vacation cabins overlooking scenic Little Lake Johnson, and nine of these cabins were built by the Civilian Conversation Core, Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park is a city-free and historical getaway for the everyone.
Along with its rich history, the park is home to many of Floridas natural beauties. Lets find out below
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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 youre quietly enjoying the scene, its likely you will see deer. If youre 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 youre here, you are completely one with nature. You can kick back and simply enjoy the birds and the breeze.
Explore The Ravine & Trails At Gold Head Branch State Park
Mike Roess Gold Head Branch has a handful of short trails to hike along with a 5.4 mile portion of the Florida National Scenic Trail. A highlight of the park is the ravine, to get to it one can hike the Ridge Trail to the Fern Loop for a more scenic hike that passes through a native Florida tree canopy along with remnants of an old saw mill, cotton gin and grist mill from around 1900. Another option is a walk down 81 stairs that descend steeply to the ravine. The kids loved the stairs and viewing the change of scenery. Once you reach the bottom follow the Fern Loop nature trail to pass by the headsprings of the Gold Head Branch. The brisk .1 mile trail that leads to one of the oldest lakes in Florida, Sheeler Lake, is also a must. Even a day trip to Gold Head Branch State Park makes for a some fun, family hiking.
Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park has plenty of activities and nature to explore and its so close to Jacksonville. I highly recommend packing up the car and spending the night in one of the cabins. Star gazing with my daughters is one of our most favorite activities getting away from the city lights is such a treat at nigh. The park is close enough to make a day trip too, hiking, swimming, and a picnic make for the perfect day.
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Checkoutmike Roess Gold Head State Park Watch Video
Mike Roess Gold Head State Park, also known as Gold Head Branch State Park. Gold Head Branch State Park is one of the oldest State Parks in Florida, dating back to the 1930s when the Civilian Conservation Corps built the State Park. Mike Roess Gold Head State Park is a keystone element of North Central Florida in Keystone Heights. It is one of the last places you can go to visit the old-growth of longleaf pines. The park has a variety of wildlife supported by marshes, lakes, and scrubs.
Once inside the park, you can expect to enjoy activities such as hiking on a 5.4-mile stretch. Both swimming and fishing are popular activities at Gold Head Branch State Park. Or maybe you want to take a peaceful canoe ride around the lake. Gold Head Branch State Park has three different campgrounds within the park. In each of these campgrounds, water and electricity are at each campsite. Each campsite offers a slightly different camping experience. When reserving your spot, be sure to look into what each campsite has to offer.
Gold Head Branch State Park/mike Roess Gold Head State Park Camping Options
Gold Head Branch State Park offers several different options when it comes to camping:
- RV or Tent
- Tent Only
Gold Head Branch State Park is capable of holding up to 55 foot long RVs. They have a variety of both back-in and pull-through campsites. These are not full-hookup sites meaning that they do not support a sewer hookup. They do have electricity and water with both 30 and 50 amp hookups. As with most Florida State Parks, two pets can enter the park per primary camper. They must be well-behaved and not lead to any disturbances with the park or other campers.
The cabins at this beautiful park can hold 4 or 6 people, depending on the cabin you get. Camping in a cabin offers a unique chance to get close to nature while still having many of the amenities we have grown used to. The tent sites at the campgrounds can sleep up to 8 people and a maximum of two tents per campsite.
Since there are three distinct campsites, be sure to select the one that best fits your needs and expectations. You can view and make a booking for any one of those campsites here.
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Gold Head Branch State Park Primitive Group Camping
There are three group camping sites at Mike Roess Gold Head State Park. Each of these sites can be used by youth or adult groups. 6 people are the minimum, and they must be part of a recognized group or benevolent society. Each of the three sites has water spigots, and 1 campfire per campsite is allowed electricity is not available, and each site can hold up to a maximum of 25 people.
The camping fees are as followed:
- $5 per night per adult
- $1 per night per child
Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park
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Gold Head Branch State Park, a Florida State Park, is just shy of 2400 acres of rolling sandhills, , ravines, lakes and scrub located midway between Gainesville and Jacksonville, six miles north of Keystone Heights on SR 21. Gold Head is one of the earliest state parks in Florida. Some of its amenities, including cabins, were originally constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2020.
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Gold Head Branch State Park Overview
Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park includes 2,000 acres of rolling Sandhills, marshes and lakes. The campground has 74 campsites and 16 cabins. RV electric hookups are available at some sites. Group and primitive tent campsites are also available.
Gold Head Branch State Park campground has drinking water, flush toilets, hot showers, and a RV dump station. Firewood is also available for sale from the friendly campground host. Each campsite has a table, fire ring and grill. The Park also has campfire programs, a picnic areas, interpretive trails, playground, historic sites, nature trails and viewing areas, equestrian trails and lakes.
Gold Branch State Park Area Recreation
Wildlife viewing is a popular attraction with opportunities to see fox squirrels, tortoises, bald eagles, hawks and other birds like the famous red cockaded woodpecker. You may also catch a glimpse of the legendary Moss Man.
Outdoor activities include hiking, biking, horseback riding, swimming, fishing, star gazing and photography.
See You Next Time At The Park
As all good things go, so must we. FYI: maximum stay at Mike Roess Gold Head State Park is 2 weeks. So enjoy the two weeks and visit the surrounding cities: like , Gainesville & Jacksonville, and dont forget to take a dip in one of the many Florida springs.
Go deeper to learn more about Mike Roess Gold Head State Park with this interview from 50Campfires.
Until next time Gold Head State Park. Image: Instagram /
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Earn A Florida State Park Junior Park Ranger Badge
The rangers at Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park are wonderful. They eagerly answered my daughters hundreds of questions, and taught my family so much. Make sure to check in at the ranger station when you arrive. There you pick up the Junior Ranger booklets to work on while exploring the park. Rangers often lead hikes and other activities within the park. We were able to learn how to use an atlatl, a spear throwing device on our visit.
Gold Head Branch State Park: 5 Reasons You Should Plan A Visit
Located just one hour away from Jacksonville, in Keystone Heights, is Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park, one of Floridas oldest state parks. Not only is it one of the oldest state parks, it is also home to a 5.4 mile stretch of the Florida National Scenic Trail. There are rolling sand hills, and a deep ravine with crystal clear streams that feed into Little Lake Johnson. With so much to explore within this park, and with the close proximity to Jacksonville it can easily be a day trip or an overnight adventure.
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Gold Head Allows Pets
Dogs love Gold Head state park! Image: Instagram/
Great news pet owners! You can bring your fur-baby with you hike Gold Heads natural scenic trail unfortunately though, pets are not permitted in these areas: inside of any buildings, the cabins and cabin area, the playground, the primitive group camping area, the primitive camping area, the swimming area, the beach, and the lake.
But they get to enjoy being in one of Gold Heads 73 campground sites, which are equipped with a picnic table, fire-ring, grill and potable water, also 20 and 30 amp electrical service are available in certain sites.
Camping And Hiking At Gold Head Branch State Park In Keystone Heights Florida
This past weekend, we spent three nights RV camping at Gold Head Branch State Park. I choose that park to camp at, because I wanted to do some hiking and liked that you can access some of the Florida Trail there. We really liked Gold Head Branch State Park and would go back again.
Gold Head Branch State Park has a lot to offer. There are various options when it comes to camping, including for RV’s, group camping, cabin rentals, and tent camping. They also have a couple of short hiking trails in the park, miles of paved roads that you can use for running and biking, and they have picnic tables, a children’s playground, pavilions, and a beach area. There are a couple of different loops where RV’s can camp, including Sandhill and Lake View. The cabins and the Lake View loop are near the lake, which has a pretty good size sandy beach area. There is swimming there, as well as kayak launching. We camped in the Sandhill loop, in space number 4 .
Nearby, there are just a few conveniences, such as gas stations and convenience stores. This state park is one of the oldest and it’s out in the woods. It’s a huge state park that we really enjoyed. Whether you are RV camping, primitive and tent camping, renting one of their cabins, or visiting for the day, you will probably enjoy Gold Head Branch State Park, too.
Here are pictures from our camping trip to Gold Head Branch State Park:
Pictured above: one of the cabins for rent at the park.
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Mike Roess Campground Has Separate Tent And Rv Camping
Gold Head Branch campground is a big park with excellent sites for both tent camping and RVs.
There is also plenty to see and do. We hiked and biked and explored our big backyard all weekend.
Cant remember the last time I explored a ravine, glad we took the time to walk down by the little brook carving its way out of the Florida pine.Fitbit says I climbed 14 floors! Who knew there were hills in Florida!You never know what youll find out there Happy trails
Host An Event At Cabins/pavilions
If you have ever visited Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park, you have seen the allure of this beautiful place. It encourages you to linger and experience more of the park, and possibly even bring others with you on your next visit. Large picnic pavilions, a recreation hall, covered gazebo and multiple historic cabins make for the perfect place to host a wedding, family reunion, corporate retreat or other events.
Three picnic areas are available for either the casual visitor or for planned events. The main picnic area overlooks Little Lake Johnson and Pebble Lake, and includes eight sheltered picnic pavilions. Each pavilion has several picnic tables as well as a charcoal grill. Another area at the ravine overlook has a single picnic table nestled in the shade, ideal for hikers starting or ending their adventure. The final picnic area is located at the equestrian trail head, plus an extra table 3.5 miles down the trail.
Nine historic cabins were built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps , a public work relief program established to help build infrastructure across the countrys parks by putting young men to work. Each cozy cabin accommodates four people with a combined living/bedroom area, separate bathroom and fully equipped kitchen. Kitchens have a stove, refrigerator, microwave, and basic cooking and eating utensils. Sleeping areas have a double bed and a futon couch/bed, with all linens provided.
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Camping At Gold Head State Park
This is a great park for camping. Water and Electric on sites. The dump station a little hard to find.The camp sites are very large with fire ring and picnic table ! The park service is very efficient and gives you a map layout of the campgrounds. When we entered the park we saw about 8 deer off to the right and we went a little farther and saw about 6 and then 4 !! It is a great park for seeing deer and wildlife !!There are bathrooms and showers, walking trails, little lakes, tent camping and more available.This is a beautiful and rustic park. It is easier to reserve on line and pick your camping spot in advance.
First time RV’ing. We only stay about 60 miles away so we packed up and drove to this park for a weekend break. We arrived after dark, greeted by rangers who have us a map of the park . Sites are huge. Each site can easily fit 2 rv’s on it – easily. So nice privacy from others. Using map we walked about 3 miles to the end to ‘big lake Johnson’ … Only to find big lake Johnson is dried up. lol. Has been for years. So save yourselves a mile or so and head towards the picnic area. This is a large open space with playgrounds, restrooms, cooking facilities. . Restrooms were ok. Clean. Good hot water in showers. Use the map to find trails and shortcuts. Have fun exploring. We saw hawks, eagles and deer. We would revisit…overall. Good job.