Just north of us is the Withlacoochee State Forest, which has been named one of the "10 Coolest Places You've Never Been in North America" by the World Wildlife Fund. It is the third largest forest in the state of Florida and is divided into several tracts.
We will be camping Friday night (separate event posted in Adventure Parents 5-12, my other meetup group - if you like camping, please join that group too). We will meet first at the campground - check out is 11:00am. Then we will hopefully check out nearby Morgan Cave before driving to 491 and the short hike to the Dames Cave area.
The northern Citrus Tract has the famous Dames Cave, which is one of Florida's oldest dry caves. We will be exploring these caves. This area is only minutes removed from the Suncoast Pkwy, but you'll get a sense of discovery and exploration while you are here.
We will plan on taking the shortest hike and the route most people use to access these wonderful geological features. It is a 1/2 mile walk on a forest road, but going from one cave entrance to another, exploring and the walk back to the cars will be about a 2 1/2 mile round trip.
It is not my intention to place anyone at risk. But, descending and entering these caves can be potentially dangerous! This is not a guided tour but a trip at your own risk. If you or your kids are afraid of heights, dark and enclosed spaces this activity may not be for you.
What to wear and bring: closed toed shoes (hiking shoes/boots recommended), long pants and long sleeved clothes that can get dirty; water, snacks, and headlamps/flashlights.
How to find the campground: From the Suncoast Parkway, turn right (east) on 98, then north on 491/S. Lecanto Hwy, then right/east on Stage Coach Trail OR 41 to north on 581/Snow Memorial (becomes Pleasant Grove), then turn left/west on Stage Coach Trail. Look for a sign/mailbox #925 on the south side of the road, turn and you will find the campground somewhere in the forest. (Sorry it is vague, but that's all I got - it is really in the middle of the forest apparently!)
Info on the caves: http://www.tripleblaze.com/blog/2013/03/21/spelunking-the-caves-of-withlacooche-state-forest/