Walk a gentle loop through the longleaf pine forest that saw one of the bloodiest moments in Florida history. On December 28, 1835, Seminole warriors who opposed the federal government’s attempt to remove them from Florida waited in ambush for U.S. Army soldiers marching down the Fort King Military Road. The Seminoles’ initial attack killed or wounded more than half of the soldiers. After several hours, only three of the soldiers, thought dead, escaped to tell the tale. The incident sparked the Second Seminole War.
Length: 0.7 mile
Fees / Permits: state park entrance fee
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Bug Factor: low to moderate
Restroom: At the trailhead
Visit the visitor’s center (open 9-5) for the full story on the Dade Massacre and the Seminole Wars. A separate trail on the opposite side of the park road leads past monuments commemorating the fallen. There are picnic pavilions (including a screened room), a playground, and a large grassy field that hosts the battle re-enactment each December.
Dade Battlefield Historic State Park website
From US 301 in Bushnell, take CR 476 west for 0.5 mile. Turn left on Battlefield Drive, which leads into the park. After paying your entrance fee, turn right into the first parking area. Follow the “Nature Trail” signs to the trailhead adjacent to the re-enactment field.
There are numerous unmarked trail junctions within the trail system, so sticking to the loop is a little tough—pick a direction and go! All trails stay within the park and the understory of the forest is relatively open. The interpretive signs are unlike any seen in other state parks—they’re artfully mounted on slices from trees. Blueberries abound in late spring. Note the many catfaced pines from the turpentine era, some with metal flashing still embedded in their trunks.