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Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area
Christmas, Florida

Taylor Creek Road, 2.5 miles north of SR 520 and 3.0 miles south of SR 50.
Latitude: 28.533229, Longitude: -81.010308

Open every day from 8:00 am to sunset.
A daily-use permit is $1 for bicyclists, horseback riders and pedestrians,
$4 per person in car, and $50 per group of 25 or more people.

Celebrating 75 Years of Florida's WMAs
Tosohatchee hike - 1 Tosohatchee hike - 2 Tosohatchee hike - 3

Recreation Opportunities

Through the Year

  • Hunting
    • Hunting is limited to high quality hunts with a limited number of hunters during seasons that run from September to March.
  • Fishing
    • Fishing is permitted throughout the area. Popular spots include bank fishing on the St. Johns River, and along the WMA's numerous canals and creeks.
  • Wildlife Viewing
    • Tosohatchee WMA is an excellent place to view wildlife year-round and is a site on the Great Florida Birding Trail.
    • Wading birds of all types - ibis, herons, egrets, wood storks, limpkins; rails, ducks, and gallinules, ospreys and eagles, as well as kestrels, turkeys, white-tailed deer, and alligators are common.
  • Hiking
    • Hiking options in Tosohatchee include overnight hikes along the Florida National Scenic Trail with camping at one backcountry site, or one of several day hikes along the network of trails and unpaved roads.
    • Shorter spur trails lead to notable natural features such as a virgin bald cypress stand in James Creek Swamp.
    • Carry a map and compass to successfully navigate the intersecting roads and trails.
  • Biking
    • Bicyclists will find that the system of unpaved roads offers good travel conditions with great scenery and abundant wildlife.
  • Horseback Riding
    • Horses are permitted on named and numbered roads and designated trails only.
    • Horses are prohibited during hunting seasons.
  • Paddling
    • No boat launching facilities are provided within the reserve.
    • Canoes and kayaks can be launched along the shoreline of the St. Johns River at the end of Powerline Road and in the two man-made lakes south of S.R. 528.
  • Scenic Driving
    • The majority of the dirt roads can be driven in a two-wheel-drive vehicle.
    • When roads are too wet or sandy, they are closed to vehicular traffic.
    • The roads traverse a lovely tapestry of natural communities, creating ample opportunity to observe wildlife, wildflowers, lush cabbage palm hammocks, and extensive stretches of freshwater marshes.
  • Camping
    • Primitive camping facilities include an equestrian camp, a group camp, and a campsite located along the Florida National Scenic Trail within the WMA.
    • Reservations must be made in advance by calling the WMA office at (407) 568-5893.
    • Car and RV camping are not available.
    • During established hunting seasons, camping is permitted only to through-hikers at the site along the Florida National Scenic Trail.

Tosohatchee entrance. Tosohatchee kiosk.
Tosohatchee administration. Tosohatchee trail to the interior.

Tosohatchee W.M.A.

Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area (WMA) covers 30,701 acres along 19 miles of the St. Johns River in eastern Orange County. Meandering creeks, lush cabbage palm hammocks, slash pine flatwoods, cypress swamps, and freshwater marshes form an integral part of the 3600-square-mile St. Johns River watershed. These habitats, and those of adjacent public lands, are essential to clean and store the water supplying the St. John's River.

An abundance of birds, both resident and migratory, and wildlife such as white-tailed deer, bobcat, fox squirrel, alligators, and otters flourish here. Bromeliads and orchids festoon tree trunks and limbs, ferns carpet the hammocks, and wildflowers such as spring blooming irises add swaths of color to the landscape. The rare hand fern finds protection here, as does another botanical treasure - cutthroat grass. Tucked in along a portion of James Creek Swamp is a pocket of old-growth cypress trees that escaped extensive logging activities during the last century.


The St. Johns River has been a source of food and shelter for humans for nearly 6,000 years. Paleo-Indians first shared the river valley with mastodon, saber toothed cat, bison, and other Pleistocene-era animals. Many of the early peoples formed complex cultures with ceremonial centers and temple mounds. At the time the Europeans arrived in the sixteenth century, the Timucua occupied the region, fishing, hunting, and farming. In the 1700s, naturalist William Bartram explored the river, noting its abundant wildlife and natural features.

During the Second Seminole War in 1837, General Thomas S. Jesup sent a Cherokee delegation to meet the Seminole leaders to persuade them to surrender. The meeting was supposed to take place at "Totalousy Hatchy," apparently a corruption of "Tootoosahatchee" or Chicken Creek, the Seminole name for the meeting location on the west bank of the St. Johns River. The site was also called Fowl Town in English, or Powell's Creek. The two tribes met farther south at Chickasaw Hatchee, present day Taylor Creek. The Cherokee Chief met the Seminole chief Micanopy and urged the Seminoles to surrender and accept removal to Oklahoma. Micanopy stalled and the meeting ended. The following month, the Seminoles came to Jesup's camp to negotiate terms of surrender. A frustrated General Jesup had Micanopy, three other chiefs, and 78 warriors, seized under a flag of truce.

The St. Johns was one of Florida's first tourist attractions – a 300 mile-long, north-flowing river highway that connected the river's origins, in marshes near Vero Beach, with Jacksonville and the Atlantic Ocean. Between 1830 and 1920, 300 paddle wheelers traveled the river, carrying hunters, sightseers, and cargo to and from numerous settlements along its shores. The old pasture at the end of Beehead Road marks Tosohatchee's cattle ranching days, dating from the early 1900s. From 1930 until 1977, ranching was replaced by hunting, managed by the privately-owned Tosohatchee Game Preserve. Portions of the property were cleared and managed as a pine plantation. Throughout the 1900s, an extensive system of canals and ditches were created to drain the land for these uses. The state acquired the property in 1977. In 1993, the Beehead Ranch House was moved to the Fort Christmas Historical Park, operated by the Orange County Parks and Recreation Department, where it was restored and opened to the public for interpretation. In 2006, management of Tosohatchee was transferred from the Department of Environmental Protection to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.