One of the oldest state parks in Florida, Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park was first developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Today, this 2,300-acre wilderness retreat offers a host of great outdoor activities and experiences for campers.
Found just six miles north of Keystone Heights, the park is easily accessible from both Jacksonville and Gainesville, making it the perfect spot for a weekend getaway or something a little longer. It boasts excellent bird watching, hiking, fishing, and swimming opportunities, plus a beautiful wooded campground where you can park your rental RV for a few nights or more.
For all the info you need to know to plan your perfect Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park camping vacation, keep reading.
Located on the North Central Ridge, Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park boasts a unique and diverse natural environment. We're talking undulating sandhills, longleaf pines, marshes, scrub, and a ravine with seepage springs known as Gold Head Branch.
To get a taste of what the park has to offer, you might want to begin your visit by exploring one of several hiking trails. The one-mile Ridge Trail is a particular favorite, offering hikers sweeping views of the ravine and the park's diverse terrain. A five-mile stretch of the Florida National Scenic Trail also passes through Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park, so it's well worth checking out if you're looking for a longer adventure.
Along the way, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for any of the abundant native wildlife that calls the area home. From Sherman's fox squirrels and cottontail rabbits to white-tailed deer and a variety of reptiles, there are plenty of fascinating creatures you might be lucky enough to spot. Birders are also rewarded with a diverse variety of species, including everything from wild turkeys and raptors to the northern harrier and the great horned owl.
The other major attraction in the park is Little Lake Johnson, which is a hive of activity during the warmer months. Some campers like nothing more than taking a dip in this freshwater lake to escape the summer heat, and there's a large sandy beach ensuring easy access.
Others prefer to rent a canoe or bring their own kayak and paddle their way around the lake's calm waters. And with fishing also allowed, you might like to try your luck catching panfish, bass, and catfish. Just make sure you check whether or not you need a fishing license before baiting any hooks.
Camping at Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park
RV camping at Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park is the best way to fully experience all of the park's activities and attractions. So, once you book an RV in Clay County, make sure to reserve a spot in the park's in one of the park's three campground loops.
There are 73 campsites in total spread around the Sandhill, Turkey Oak, and Lakeview loops. Each site comes equipped with a water hookup, fire ring, grill, and picnic table. Most sites feature electric hookups with 20 and 30-amp service, while select sites offer 50-amp service.
A dump station is centrally located for easy access from all three loops, and each loop has its own bathhouse with hot showers. The Lakeview loop bathhouse is also designed to be accessible for people with disabilities.
If you want to camp in Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park with dogs, well-behaved pets are permitted in the campground. Just make sure you abide by all park rules, including keeping pets out of bathhouses and cleaning up after them, at all times.
Finally, if you're traveling with friends and family who won't be staying in an RV, it's worth noting that there are also 16 vacation cabins available for rent.
Exploring the Area
Once your Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park camping adventure comes to an end, there's no need to rush straight home. With a host of nearby attractions just a short drive away, it's worth taking the scenic route back to your everyday life.
If you're keen to check out another Florida state park, steer your motorhome rental east towards Palatka and Ravine Gardens State Park. While you can't camp there, the park is home to a gorgeous tropical garden that's well worth exploring.
Gainesville lies just 40 minutes to the southwest and is home to the wonderful Cade Museum for Creativity & Invention. Alternatively, you can head in the opposite direction and be in Jacksonville in under an hour. While you're there, make sure you tackle the Jax Ale Trail of local breweries.
No matter which way you look at it, there's plenty to like about an RV camping trip in northeastern Florida. So rent a camper near Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park and start planning your perfect getaway.