Chinsegut - Things to Do
In addition to hiking and wildlife viewing, a variety of hikes, workshops and programs are held at the Conservation Center on the property throughout the year.
A site on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, Chinsegut is a choice location for seeing migratory as well as resident birds. White-tailed deer are abundant and frequently wander by the Conservation Center. The Conservation Center’s butterfly garden attracts a colorful array of butterflies throughout the year, with peak butterfly numbers in late summer and fall. Visit the Wildlife page for more information about the area's wildlife.
Both the Big Pine Tract and the Chinsegut Conservation Center Tract have several hiking trails, including the "Prairie to Pines Trail" which connects the two properties by winding through a variety of landscapes. Trails are open year-round on both tracts but access from the trailhead at the Chinsegut Conservation Center is only available when the Conservation Center is open to the public, Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m., and during regularly scheduled programs or by appointment (352-754-6722). However, the trailhead at the corner of Snow Memorial Highway and U.S. 41 is open year-round. Visitors may park here to hike trails in the Conservation Center Tract or the Big Pine Tract via the Prairie-to-Pines Trail. A separate trailhead for Big Pine Tract is also located off of Old Crystal River Road.
All Conservation Center trails begin at a kiosk located next to the center. The trail travels south approximately 0.25 mile to a fork. From here, visitors can go left or right to loop around May's Prairie. A series of overlooks and access points allow stunning views over the flooded prairie. A short spur trail, known as the cypress trail, connects both sides of the loop and offers a shorter hiking option for visitors. Access to the "Prairie-to-Pines" trail can be found at the southeastern end of the conservation center trail loop.
The trail system at the Big Pine Tract begins at the kiosk located off of Old Crystal River Road. Both the longleaf loop and tortoise loop start here, although the tortoise loop is a much shorter trail at 0.8 miles. The longleaf loop travels 1.3 miles through one of the only remaining old growth longleaf pine forests left in Florida. A spur trail at the north end of the longleaf loop leads to Burn's Prairie. Additionally, visitors can access the "Prairie-to-Pines" trail from the eastern end of both loop trails. The "Prairie-to-Pines" trail connects both tracts of Chinsegut WEA and is 1.8 miles long.
Volunteer opportunities abound at Chinsegut WEA. Opportunities include working at the Conservation Center; maintaining nature trails, facilities and grounds; assisting with environmental education programs and public outreach; and participating in citizen science projects such as wildlife surveys. For more information on volunteering at the Chinsegut Conservation Center, send an email to the volunteer coordinator or call 352-754-6722.
Chinsegut's Conservation Center
The Center is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., or for scheduled programs. Explore the trails, discover new things about wildlife and natural areas in scheduled programs, or participate in outdoor skills training for all ages. Organized groups may book a program at the center by email or by calling 352-754-6722.