If you’re more interested in horses than in boats or bikes Citrus County is the place to be. There are sandy trails through state forests and grassy trails along semi-rural paved paths, with several outstanding equestrian camping opportunities in different parts of the county. In addition, there’s a premier equestrian residential development with excellent community amenities.
The Withlacoochee State Trail
The 46-mile Withlacoochee State Trail runs through three counties, slicing along the eastern part of Citrus. This public trail is multi-use, with equestrian designation in the grassy areas beside the paved path. Whether you like flat, shady and tree-lined or wide open, the Withlacoochee State Trail has it. There are several suitable equestrian access points along the trail, including the popular Apopka trailhead in Inverness. See the trail map here: http://www.railstotrailsonline.com/trail-map.html. For details contact the Withlacoochee State Trail office at 352-726-2251 or 352-344-1640, or see the website: www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/state/with/default.htm
Withlacoochee Bay Trail / Felburn Park Trailhead
Tucked into Citrus County’s northwest corner you’ll find the Withlacoochee Bay Trail. Although it offers five paved, multiuse miles from U.S. 19 to the Gulf of Mexico, there’s opportunity for a more rustic experience for equestrians. The 740-acre Dixon Hammock features old unpaved logging roads for riders who want to get back into the Florida woods. The 3.3-mile Red Trail and the 2.3 mile Green Trail are blaze-marked. This park and trail are part of the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway. See details and print a brochure from the website: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/guide/regions/crossflorida/trails/with_bay.htm
Potts Preserve Riding Trail Equestrian Trails
Enjoy a great morning ride or plan to camp with your horse at Potts Preserve in eastern Citrus County. Traveling from Inverness toward the Withlacoochee River on C.R. 581, you’ll see a modestly marked entrance to the Potts Preserve equestrian trail at Dee River Road. Make a day ride of exploring the 12 miles of marked woods roads or get a permit to camp overnight. Horse-drawn buggy riding is also allowed but requires a reservation. For Potts Preserve Riding Trail information, call 352-796-7211, ext. 4470; download a brochure from: www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/areas/potts.html
Flying Eagle Preserve Equestrian Trails
In the eastern section of Citrus County, beyond Floral City, you’ll find the Flying Eagle Preserve. It’s bordered by the Withlacoochee River and is part of the river’s floodplain, with marshes as well as forested uplands. There are 9 miles of marked or designated multiuse trails. Note: equestrian use is not permitted during hunting season. For details check the website: http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/areas/flyingeagle.html
Two Mile Prairie EquestrianTrails
If you’re in the mood for an enjoyable ride in a lovely natural area, try this 8.3-mile trail. The Two Mile Prairie property, bordering the Withlacoochee River on Citrus County’s north side, has a variety of plant communities for interesting viewing. This marked equestrian trail is part of the Florida Department of Forestry “Trailtrotter” program. Equestrian primitive camping is allowed with a state forest permit near the Bear Hammock Trailhead off CR 491. Call for information: 352-754-6896. Download a trail map and more information here: www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/areas/twomile.html
Withlacoochee State Forest Equestrian Trails and Tillis Hill Equine Campground
The real gems for equestrians in Citrus County are the horse trails of the Withlacoochee State Forest and the Tillis Hill Campground in the Citrus Tract of the state forest. The Tillis Hill Campground is off forest road 13, which stretches between SR 44 to the north all the way to CR 480 to the south. Reservations are required at Tillis Hill, which has 28 horse stalls [shavings and lime provided] and 37 campsites with electricity and water. Clean and well-maintained, Tillis Hill has been called one of the best equestrian camping sites in central Florida. Riders delight in the gently rolling hills and abundant wildlife viewing opportunities from the sandy and mostly-shady trails. Enjoy the short loops or take the marked one-day or two-day trails, all part of the Trailtrotter program. By arrangement, surreys, buggies and wagons may travel on forest roads. Call for campground reservations: 352-344-4238. See a map here: www.fl-dof.com/state_forests/withlacoochee.html
The community of Pine Ridge Estates
Some folks have enjoyed Citrus County’s equestrian opportunities so thoroughly that they’ve decided to make their homes here. Centrally located Pine Ridge Estates, the largest equestrian center in Citrus County, has some 50 miles of horse trails and homes on one- to five-acre parcels among tall pines and rolling hills. There are professional paddocks, stalls, corral and training facility among the amenities. The community is less than halfway built-out so if you’re interested in relocating, call the developer at 800-853-2363 or local real estate professionals.
Private ranches for day rides and more
A number of private ranches offer rentals, guided or self-guided trail rides, living accommodations and /or horse boarding. Call for information on availability and amenities.
- The Rymar Ranch in Lecanto adjoins the Withlacoochee State Forest, named one of the World Wildlife Fund’s to 10 “coolest places you’ve never seen”. There are rides of one to two hours for riders age 7 and older.
Call 352-382-5400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Lady Hawk Farm offers what it calls an exclusive horse farm vacation with a luxury ranch house cabin in the woods for those who want to stay, or just day rides in the Withlacoochee State Forest for beginners or experienced riders. Call 727-580-1083 or email email@example.com.
- Renab Ranch in Lecanto offers limited RV hookup with water, electric and sewer for you, and private, grassy paddock for your horse. Ride trails in the Withlacoochee State Forest in the morning, take a swim at the ranch, then enjoy the rest of Citrus County. Call for information: 352-628-9816.
- Sawtooth Horse Trails in northern Citrus County offers more than 10 miles of trails from home base to the Inglis Island and dam. There are hookups for RVs and a cabin, plus a barn & paddock turnout. Call 352-794-4189.
- Blueberry Hill Farm is adjacent to Two Mile Prairie forest in northern Citrus County. You can board your horse at Blueberry Hill Farm while you head for a motel or B&B. Blueberry Hill also offers guided trail rides if you didn’t bring a horse. For information: 352-302-7303 or http://blueberryhillfarm.homestead.com.
- Just Horse ‘n Around, a short distance east of the Citrus County line, offers one- to four-hour rides through the scenic 9,000-acre Half Moon Wildlife Management Area . Call 352-330-1500 or 352 563-7017.
- Bringing your horse? Carry proof of current Coggins test at all times
- Riders under age 16 must wear helmets
- Stay on marked trails
- Respect the environment: leave nothing but footprints
- Call ahead for reservations and permits