Croom Motorcycle Area, Withlacoochee State Forest
Don’t let the name confuse you. The Croom Motorcycle Area (CMA) in the Withlacoochee State Forest near Brooksville, Fla., is a mecca for ATV riders as well as motorcyclists.
In 1973, the Florida Trail Riders and Florida Department of Agriculture teamed up to create this 2,200-acre riding area.
The terrain ranges from hammocks—areas often higher than the surrounding land with hardwood trees that include oaks, sweetgums, hickories, and palms—to tight scrub land. There are also a number of pits from past mining days.
The large riding area offers terrain for all skill levels ranging from beginner to more advanced. In fact, there are a couple areas for training and for inexperienced riders to practice their skills. There’s a large phosphate pit as well. Plus, of course, many miles of trails.
The day-use area features picnic tables, water, restrooms and parking. There are various other places to park in the Croom Motorcycle Area as well.
If you have youngsters, then you won’t want to miss an event called Kids’ Day at CMA. Four years ago, Ranger John Bordeaux and several volunteers came up with the idea of doing something special for families who use the facility, and Kids’ Day was born.
With the help of Wildlife firefighter and facility Manager Mark Good, the event now hosts about 500 people, including about 100 kids, in October.
Good says that Kids’ Day is a free day for anyone who wants to ride at Croom. But the day focuses on the kids, featuring a parade of ATVs and motorcycles, an obstacle course, a scavenger hunt, a raffle to win an ATV and a dirtbike, camping in the evening, evening movies, free food and drinks, and more.
Good says families and individuals who want to spend the night must make arrangements for a camp site the morning of the event, since reservations aren’t accepted.
Gates open at 8 a.m.
A permit is required to ride in the CMA. The permit must be displayed on the front of the ATV. Riders without permits are expelled and/or fined.
Annual permits are required, and are valid July of one year through June of the next. Fees are posted at the entrance gate and are pro-rated through the year.
Permit payments can be made at the entrance gate only by cash or traveler’s check. The permit fee is $60 for Florida residents and $100 for non-residents, but the fee decreases as the year progresses since it is pro-rated.
To get a permit to ride at Croom, be sure that your ATV meets all of the following requirements:
- Have a wheelbase of less than 55 inches.
- Have a width of less than 45 inches.
- Weigh less than 500 pounds.
- Travel on three or four low-pressure tires.
- Have a seat that is straddled by the rider.
Legal riding hours are from sunrise to sunset. ATVs must have mufflers, and riders must wear approved protective headgear designed for riding an ATV.
Also, ATV operators under the age of 16 must have direct adult supervision.
In addition, all area users must enter at the entrance at I-75 and US98/SR50 behind the Holiday Inn.
To reach the Croom Motorcycle Area from Brooksville, head east on US 98/SR50 about 11 miles. The entrance is on the left, just before the I-75 overpass.
If you are approaching via I-75, take Exit 61 (new Exit 301) to US98/SR50, 40 miles north of downtown Tampa, Fla.,. Turn west toward Brooksville. The entrance is on the right-northwest corner of the I-75 and US98/SR50 interchange. Look for the Holiday Inn as a landmark.
For more information, contact the Withlacoochee State Forest, Recreation/Visitors Center, 15003 Broad St., Brooksville, Fla. 34601-4201; (352) 754-6896.