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Florida State Parks

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USA Parks
Central West Region
Fort Cooper State Park
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3100 South Old Floral City Road
Inverness, Florida   34450

Phone: 352-726-0315
The sparkling waters of Lake Holathlikaha were a welcome sight to sick and wounded soldiers during the Second Seminole War. In 1836, the First Georgia Battalion of Volunteers built a stockade for the soldiers resting here, enabling the Volunteers to hold their own through several skirmishes with the Seminole Indians. The park?s diverse natural areas provide a refuge for many plants and animals, including threatened and endangered species. Fishing in Lake Holathlikaha is a popular activity; swimming is available only when the lake level is high enough. Private boats are not allowed on the lake, but paddleboat and canoe rentals are available. Nearly five miles of self-guided trails offer some of the best bird and wildlife viewing in Citrus County. Park visitors also can enjoy the picnic facilities, a recreation hall, and primitive group campground. Located off U.S. 41 on South Old Floral City Road, two miles south of Inverness.
Nature of the Area
Wildlife at Fort Cooper State Park is abundant. Sightings of deer, turkey, opossum, bobcat, birds, and many other species is very common.
History of the Area
The park is named after Major Mark Anthony Cooper.

In April 1836, during the Second Seminole War, Major Cooper was ordered to remain behind to protect the sick and wounded as General Winfield Scott marched south to present day Tampa. Major Cooper was left in the command of five companies of the First Georgia Battalion of Volunteers and a small artillery company. A field fortification was built on the western bluff of Lake Holathlikaha. Major Cooper was to hold this position as he waited for reinforcements.

Seminole War Chief Osceola and his Indian warriors encamped themselves across the lake from Fort Cooper. There were several skirmishes with the Seminoles, but the volunteers held their own. On April 18, General Scott returned with supplies and reinforcements, leading the men of Fort Cooper from their frontier sanctuary and into new battles.

The fort site was well chosen. The western bluff offered the strategic advantage of being nestled in the fringe of a hardwood hammock, while having access to a wagon road that was under the cover of longleaf yellow pine.
Annual Entrance Passes can be purchased at all park ranger stations and museums. If you require immediate use of your pass, this is the best option. Passes can be purchased during regular business hours 365 days a year. Please call the park in advance to ensure availability. Those who are eligible for discounted or free passes may use this method to receive their pass. Annual Entrance Passes may be purchased online by visiting the FLORIDA STATE PARKS ANNUALENTRANCE PASSES web page.
- Primitive Camping: Fort Cooper State Park offers a primitive campsite for those seeking an authentic outdoor experience.

- Group Campground: A group campground is available, accommodating up to 60 people with restroom facilities and picnic tables.

- Youth Camping Area: This area specifically caters to youth groups such as scouts or school trips.

Note that there are no RV camping options within the park.
With higher water levels, Lake Holathlikaha offers excellent fresh water swimming. Contact the park for lake conditions.
The park offers a variety of boating options for visitors. Canoe and kayak rentals are available, providing an excellent way to explore the 160-acre lake within the park boundaries. There is also a boat ramp on site for those who prefer bringing their own watercrafts. However, only non-motorized boats or electric motors are allowed in order to preserve the tranquility and natural environment of this area.

Enjoy Lake Holathilikaha and all it's natural beauty by canoe or paddle boat. Canoes and paddleboats are available for rent at the park. Private boats are not allowed.
Lake Holathlikaha offers fresh water fishing. While private boats are not permitted, canoes and paddleboats may be rented. Contact the park for rental details. A fishing license is required.

Day Use Area
Nestled under large shade trees is a pavilion that will accommodate between 60 to 70 people. Great for large outdoor parties! A covered BBQ pit is located nearby. See our home page for rental pricing.
The hardwood hammock, along Lake Holathlikaha, is an excellent picnic area complete with grills, tables, and pavilions. The beach area accommodates volleyball, horseshoe, and playground activities.
Bicycling is permitted on the park's multi-use trails. Helmets are highly recommended for safety purposes.

The terrain can be challenging, with sandy and hilly sections that require a certain level of fitness and skill.

Riders should stay alert as they share these paths with pedestrians, bird watchers, and wildlife enthusiasts alike.

It's important to note that off-trail biking isn't allowed in order to protect local flora and fauna from damage or disturbance.

Please respect all posted signs regarding trail usage rules while enjoying your ride through this natural Florida setting.

Remember: Always carry water due to high temperatures during most parts of the year; dehydration can occur quickly here!
Nearly five miles of self-guided nature trails give visitors a glimpse of the area's wildlife. The trails offer some of Citrus counties best birding.
Birdwatchers can explore five miles of nature trails, spotting species like the red-shouldered hawk and eastern bluebird. The park's lake attracts wading birds such as herons and egrets. Birding tours are also available.

Area Attractions
Set within the park, this is an ideal setting for a small wedding, family reunion, birthday party, baby shower or a fun business meeting. A rustic building that has air conditioning, heat and a fireplace, the Recreation Hall can accommodate 50 to 60 people and comes equipped with folding tables and chairs. The small kitchen can be rented in addition. The kitchen comes equipped with a stove, refrigerator, and microwave. Please see our home page for rental pricing
Things To Do in the Area
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Horseback Riding
We offer trail rides to singles, couples, or groups. All rides are guided to assure safety for rider and horse. There are trails through the Florida Horse Park and into the Cross Florida Greenway Trail system. Most trails are shaded and quite scenic.
19.3 miles from park*

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
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Nearby Hotels
Pets are welcome in the park as long as they are on a six foot leash. They are permitted in the picnic area, hiking trails and playground but are not allowed on the beach area, in the water, in the paddleboats and canoes or in our primitive campground.

Directions from Orlando, Florida:

- Start on I-4 W.
- Take exit 77 for Florida's Turnpike N towards Ocala.
- Merge onto FL-Turnpike N.
- Continue straight to stay on the turnpike (partial toll road).

From Gainesville, Florida:

- Begin by getting onto I75-S.
- Exit at number 329 for State Road 44 toward Wildwood/Inverness
- Follow SR44-W until you reach US41 in Inverness.

From Tampa Bay Area:

- Get started with heading northbound via Suncoast Parkway Toll Rd/Hwy589-North
- Pay attention as it turns into Veterans Expressway and then back to Hwy589-N/Suncoast Pkwy again after passing through Spring Hill area

Once You Reach Inverness City Limits:

- From U.S Highway 41 North or South bound lanes,
- Make a left/right respectively when reaching Eden Drive intersection which is marked clearly by traffic lights;
- Proceed eastward along Eden Dr till its end where Fort Cooper Park entrance can be found directly across Old Floral City Road junction

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Florida State Parks