Bike trails

Richloam Wildlife Management Area & Historic General Store

Hiking and old fashioned soda pop, what a wonderful escape

I love getting out on the trail. Out in the forest, there are no news reporters telling me how bad things are, no politicians blaming each other for the mess they created, and no loud distractions. The forest is a retreat from all that stressful noise, a retreat into quiet serenity to take in and be inspired by the nature that surrounds me.

We are always looking for new places to take in the Florida forest view and for this adventure, John and I decided to check out the Richloam Wildlife Management area, one of 7 tracts that make up the Withlacoochee State forest.

John and I have only been hiking for about a year, and the most we have ever hiked in a day is about 6 miles. The Richloam Wildlife takes up about 58,000 acres, and because hunting season has not yet opened, to cover more ground and investigate as much as we could, we chose to drive down some semi-paved roads that the hunters use to get to their hunt camps.

There are miles and miles of official hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails, however, there are also miles and miles of semi-paved roads that you can explore in your vehicle. Now, there are a few notes on those semi-paved, mostly dirt roads, I should make very clear: they get flooded, they are bumpy and full of holes, and because they are used for access to hunting camps, you probably want to use extreme caution exploring them during hunting season. Some hazards could be getting stuck in the mud, driving through high water, and being in the wrong place during hunting season. In other words, it is probably best to stick to the official hiking trails during hunting season and during the rainy season.

Our Subaru does pretty well off-road but it’s not built to drive through high water and we did not feel like getting stuck in the mud, so we drove down the roads as far as we felt safe and if conditions got iffy, we would get out and hike a bit.

The Little Withlacoochee River flows through the northwestern half of the area and the area is part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail.

Within the area is the Richloam Fish Hatchery, a designated fishing area within a shallow wetland, designed and constructed as a mitigation to filter hatchery discharge water and provide a vital wetland habitat for fish and wildlife.

John and I spotted many deer, wild turkeys, and birds. You have to be pretty quick on the draw if you want a good picture, though, and because John and I are novices and clumsy photographers, and well, let’s just say the wildlife was not going to pose for us. But we had fun trying, and that is the point of it all anyway, isn’t it?

We thoroughly enjoyed the serenity of the forest but I have to say the highlight of the day was our visit to the 1920’s era, Historic Richloam General Store. Visiting the small general store was like visiting a working museum.

I mean a day of hiking is not complete until you finish it off with a good old fashion soda pop and some hot boiled peanuts. Of course, I also had to buy an old school set of lincoln logs for my grandson. SHHH, it is a Christmas gift.

The Historic Richloam General store is located at 38219 Richloam Clay Sink Road, Webster, Florida. Clay Sink Road is also known as Porter Gap Road, and it is a one-lane asphalt road that cuts through dense woods. A trip to the General Store is an off the beaten path adventure, so you definitely want to use your GPS or google maps to find it. ( note: The hours of the General Store have been shortened due to the COVID 19 crisis) Currently, the hours are Friday thru Tuesday from 9 am to 3 pm. Closed Wednesday and Thursday.

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