One of my favorite areas at Goethe State Forest is where an old cypress tree still stands known as Goethe Giant. There is a trail and boardwalk that leads you to this majestic tree that is estimated to be over 900 years old.
During the 1800’s and early 1900’s many of these cypress trees were cut down during the logging booms because this type of wood is so valuable and for its durability. The Florida wilderness was once covered with these old trees, many dating back 1,000’s of years. Some still remain today but can be difficult to find, but others like this one are nicely preserved along a trail where you can visit and experience this beautiful tree.
Check out my video and photos below to get a glimpse of this tree, the forestry website link posted also has a map indicating where the tree is along the Big Cypress Boardwalk Trail. There is a forest road you can access there which takes you to the trailhead.
The Goethe Giant at Goethe State Forest
Goethe State Forest Website
I explored this area recently known as Devils Hammock Wildlife Management Area located in Levy County. I had been here several years ago but never got the chance to really look around like I wanted to. So I took my video camera and geared up for a hike in this preserve to check it out again to see what I could find.
I am really glad that I did because this time I found one of the most interesting trees I’ve ever seen while exploring the wilderness. It is a very large and old oak tree located in the woods here off one of the trails. In fact there is a sign at one of the trailheads indicating that there is a champion tree here. I can’t say for sure how old it is but from the looks of it this majestic tree has been here for a long time and has stood the test of time.
The trunk and base of the tree are very large, especially when you stand up next to it you get a true sense of it’s size. I imagine that the tree could be several hundred years old, though not sure exactly what kind of oak it is. The area is surrounded by swamps and hardwood hammocks and the forest has an ancient feel to it. It is a very scenic wilderness with lots of different wildlife and habitats.
I would say the best time to visit this place would be in the cooler and drier months you just have to check the hunting dates since it is a very popular destination for hunting. While making this video it was a challenge because it was during the summer when there was more water in the swamps and lots of mosquitos following me the entire hike. Although over the years of exploring I have learned to endure these types of challenges in the wilderness but it isn’t for everyone.
It is a rare treat to see these old trees still standing in Florida’s wilderness since many were cut down and logged out long ago. So when I do find one I truly value the experience. Check out my video and photos below to see this beautiful tree. I also posted links to where you can find more information on this preserve. To find this tree you’ll need to enter at the Parker Field entrance but there are plenty of other areas to explore here as well.
Devils Hammock Wildlife Management Area – Hunting Schedule
Devils Hammock Wildlife Management Area – Map
Devils Hammock Wildlife Management Area
Champion Oak Tree at Devils Hammock Wildlife Management Area
Long ago Florida was covered with ancient and giant cypress trees dating back thousands of years. Cypress has natural built in preservatives or oils that make cypress long lasting and resistant to water and insect damage. So these trees can stand the test of time, which is also what makes them so valuable. In just a matter of a hundred years or more many of these ancient trees were cut down by the logging industry.
Luckily some of these trees still remain and can be seen throughout the state, though not nearly as what there once was. Some of the oldest and largest cypress trees I have seen in central Florida at Spring Hammock Preserve. Exploring around in the swamps there I came across some giants, one of them may be around 2,000 years old. As I roamed throughout the wilderness I was amazed to see some of them still standing after all this time. It is a great experience to see and touch them, I imagined how many others over the years have stood in the same place I was and admiring them.
Just across the way from the preserve in Big Tree Park used to be another cypress tree known as The Senator. It was the biggest and oldest bald cypress tree in the world at 3,500 years old. Sadly it burnt down several years ago…
It was a great adventure finding these beautiful trees in the swamps here and I am glad that we still have them to appreciate. Hopefully they will remain for many more years to come.
Ancient Cypress at Spring Hammock Preserve
Old Cypress Trees at Spring Hammock Preserve
Spring Hammock Preserve
This is an old Cypress Tree I saw while exploring in this area of The Green Swamp close to the Withlacoochee River. I am not sure how old this is but it seems to have been here for a very long time. The inside of the tree is hollowed out and I was able to crawl inside and stand up for an interesting perspective. Why is it hollowed out? Well, the outer part of the tree is compromised, and the heart wood rots upward from the water level. If you notice the darker shading around the base of the tree that is where the water levels get up to in this part of the swamp.
This wilderness used to have a lot of these ancient trees and they were much larger and older than this one. Over a hundred a years ago many of them were cut down during the logging boom. I was fortunate to see this one still standing, but who knows how many more could be out there. Many of these old Cypress Trees were left by loggers cause they were determined not to be of any value.
Old Cypress Tree in The Green Swamp
Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve