Cypress swamp in the Big Gum Swamp Wilderness
The Big Gum Swamp Wilderness is a 13,660-acre refuge northeast of Lake City on the Osceola National Forest. The wilderness was officially designated on September 28, 1984 in order to preserve and protect this large, relatively undisturbed cypress-gum flatwoods area with its fringe of pine flatwoods.
This is a fresh water flat with the water level generally a couple inches to three feet above the ground, depending on where you are on the property. There are numerous shallow sloughs in the area with slow-moving flows to the small streams, and much of the surface is covered with a thick, spongy mix of living and rotting vegetation.
Once upon a time, the area was used for "turpentining," and most of the old-growth pine and cypress timber was logged off by 1920. To facilitate the logging, railroads were built into the area on trestles and earthen trams. At this point in time, most of the older human intrusions into the swamp have decayed, blending back into the swamp background and the swamp is nearly returned to its old natural self. The primary hiking trails in the area are along what remains of the old earthen trams.
Some folks try to use the area for hunting but the lack of roads in this extremely boggy terrain, the subtropical climate, the huge numbers of flying insects, and the lack of maintained trails in the dense vegetation make recreational use of the property extremely challenging.