Is Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park Dog Approved?
If you were a hound would you hike Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State?
Gold Head Branch State Park is one of the top locations for seeing a variety of Florida landscapes and Florida history Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) architecture. Gold Head is located in-between Jacksonville and Gainesville Florida in Clay County.
Dogs are allowed in most areas of the park except the cabins and recreational areas but there are some places in the park that are better off avoiding if you have smaller or older dogs. Most of the area of the park is great for dogs especially the sections that is part of the Florida Trail.
Hound Approved Trails
The most pet friendly area of the trail is the Loblolly Trail that merges with the Florida Trail. All of the trails are clearly marked and creates a loop back to one of the several trail heads. The ground is fairly even and the trail in generally wide making it easy to navigate for novice hikers. Above the trail, the canopy fluctuates between live oaks along the creek and palmettos and pines after the Loblolly Trail splits.
This park is also one of the few parks in Florida that I have found that allow dogs near fresh water. There are a few parts of the trail that feature small bridges over the water allowing dogs to sniff the water without disturbing it. If your dogs are like mine, this will make them very happy. A lot of the trail is under canopy and the water helps cool down the trail making it accessible during more months out of the year the year.
Places it may get Ruff
Some trails in Gold Head are harder for hounds to navigate than others. The Ravine Trail features some of the most beautiful parts of the park but its trail head is also a steep set of trails that bring you into the levee. If you have a small or older dog I do not recommend using this trailhead. The Loplolly trail head will bring you into the Ravine trail so if you would like to explore this beautiful green lush part of the trail and don’t mind the 2 mile (4 miles to and from) hike I would recommend doing that instead.
Remember, always gauge the activity level your dog can tolerate before picking a trail. The last area of the park, is Deer Lake a.k.a. The Devil Washboard. To be honest, I have yet to discover this area but from what I have studied, it is a steep incline, so I would recommend similar precaution as the Ravine Trailhead.
The Forbidden Zone
The recreational area that prohibits dogs also feature two ponds. Bodies of water like this are usually best avoided when you have hounds because of the possibility of snakes and alligators which are known the get snappy with dogs. Camping with hounds is permitted, however, they are not allowed to stay in the CCC built cabins. In both the RV/Tent camping area and the hiking trails, dogs need to be leashed at all times and be well-behaved.
This means, not charging after wildlife or small children. Also, part of the Ravine Trail has an issue with ground-nesting hornets, however, this area is already roped off for everyone’s safety. Hopefully, this issue will be resolved by the time you read this article.
Important things to bark about
Remember to bring lots of water on this trip and to watch your dog for signs of overheating when hiking in the more open areas. Also, the park fee is $5 per vehicle, which isn’t much but it is important to remember. The park does have restrooms near the recreational area. As long as you stay in the parking lot area and someone is stays with the dog you will be fine to use it. You have to bring your own doggy bags, but at least there are trash cans.
Is it hound approved?
I would say this is hound approved, however, parts of the trail can be ruff on older dogs. Try avoiding bringing your K9 Hiker in the middle of summer since it can get extremely hot. Overall, this is a great place to take a dog on a variety of skill levels. Go enjoy some beautiful land and waterscapes on this Florida State Park.