Goethe State Forest

Posted By on February 22, 2018

Goethe State Forest

5.64 miles; Dunnellon, FL

Aside from a stand-off with a snake, this was a pretty unremarkable hike. There was that stand-off, however…

The Trail

The Trail

I was on a road trip to visit some friends in other parts of Florida, and couldn’t resist finding a hike along the way, so I picked this large state forest in Dunnellon. It was billed as an equestrian-friendly trail system, which meant, in practice, that the trails were very soft, churned-up sand. Really hard to walk on, if you’re, you know, a human. I had originally wanted to do a 7.5 mile loop, but a few minutes on the trails convinced me to cut it to the shortest loop, which was about 5.5 miles.

Thistle

Thistle

I’ve been staying on the panhandle of Florida, and temps have been hovering in the high 60s, low 70s. Once I got onto the peninsula, temps really took a jump. It was probably 10-15 degrees warmer, and lots more stuff was in bloom, including this gorgeous (and noxious) bull thistle.

Great Signage

Great Signage

One thing I will say positively about this trail system is that it had some really great signage. Oh, and there was a bathroom at the trailhead. That’s two things.

Snake

Snake

Okay, so about the snake… At about the 4 1/2 mile mark, I came to a large, deep puddle in the trail, and there was really only one way to go without wading through the middle of it. Unfortunately, that way was blocked by a big greenish snake. Now, don’t get me wrong… I actually like snakes, and I even owned a pet snake once. But I am in Florida, where there are venomous snakes, and I don’t know what they all look like. And please forgive the blurry photo—my hand was shaking rather badly at the time.

So, snake blocking my way. What to do? I thought, “I’ll chuck a few pine cones at it. That’ll scare it away for sure.” So I start chucking pine cones. One actually lands on the snake. Snake was all, “Nah, bra, I ain’t movin’. I was here first.” And it lifted up its head and gave me severe side-eye in a rather menacing way.

What followed was a frantic combination of further pine-cone chucking, shrub-rattling, and just plain shouting “C’mon, snake, MOVE already!” Which finally proved to be effective, and the snake swam off across the puddle. I think I heard it huffing and muttering to itself, although that was probably my imagination. It was about 3 feet long, and I’m pretty sure it was a harmless Everglades Rat Snake, Pantherophis alleghaniensisHarmless unless, of course, you’re a rat.

You can find out more about the Goethe State Forest from this Florida Department of Agriculture website. As always, click the image above for details about this hike and to download the gps track.

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