Matanzas State Forest
Stuart K.The Dyrt PRO User
Reviewed Nov. 10, 2022

Hermit Living in Maze-Like Camping Outpost

I have yet to find any place that you can feel so lost within just a 10 minute drive from one of the busiest highways in America than Matanzas State Forest. Once exiting I95 on Rt. 206 you’ll want to head east and within 3 minutes you’ll hit US1, where you’ll just head south until you stumble across (and I mean that, because if you’re not looking for it, you won’t find Matanzas State Forest – and GPS won’t help you, in fact, it will send you to the wrong place) the sign marked ‘Double Gate Road Entrance’ for Matanzas State Park. So, keep your camping scout eyes open and looking eastward till you see the sign in the images I’ve provided. 

Once you’ve turned into this SP, head straight (you won’t have any choice!) for 1.5 miles, then hang a right on Longleaf Road for a half mile, then left on Eagles Nest Road, where you’ll keep going pass 2 side roads until you eventually end up at Cedar Creek Campground. While there are some signs to follow, trust me, you’ll need to pay attention, otherwise you’ll get lost (pretty easily). As this campground is so incredibly remote, they use the honor system for checking in and selecting your campsite. For the most part, each of these individual sites are very well ‘shrubbed up’ keeping a decent amount of privacy between you and your new-found neighbors. There is no bathroom or shower facilities out here – apart from a shared ‘honey pot’ that sits right next to the only garbage/ disposal area (so double whammy from a smell standpoint!). 

While each site comes with a basic picnic table, in-ground fire pit with fold-over grill along with a few stand-up grills with each site, there’s not much more than this. Back near the entrance, you will find a water pump with non-potable water to wash your dishes with (and whatever else you might use potable water for). Wherever you go in this small campground, you’ll discover some of Florida’s swamplike overgrown jungle, full of Ancient Oaks, Magnolias and Long-Needle Pines, so while with most campgrounds here in Florida, you won’t have to worry about heat from direct sunlight here. The Matanzas Forest is home to turkeys, hogs, otters, tortoises, songbirds, egrets, bald eagles (or so I’ve heard – I’ve never seen any) and of course, deer. In the entire time I was here, I never once bumped into ANYONE ELSE, except for one other camper who was packing up to leave just as I arrived. So, rejoice all of you primitive camping enthusiasts that want to live like a hermit! 

Inside tips? Here’s a few: (1) There’s a number of primitive, machete-trimmed trails to chose from, but whatever you do, ensure you make your way to the marsh, where you will discover one of the last undisturbed salt marshes in the Guana – Tolomato – Matanzas Reserve; (2) If you love getting on the trails as much as I do, you’ll want to keep quiet in order to allow for nature to come out and take a peak at you – I took an amazing video with a doe and her fawn peacefully eating shrubbery!; (3) While the amenities here at Matanzas are sparse, if you are looking for more to explore and do, check out either nearby Princess Preserve or Faver-Dykes State Park, both of which are a short drive or a nice kayak ride to and where both offer tons of activities; and (4) If you have a youth group, there is a group campground that is in the northeast corner of the SP, although I am not clear if you can get to it by car or if you need to hike it in. 

Happy Camping!

Site2
Month of VisitNovember
  • Review photo of Matanzas State Forest by Stuart K., November 10, 2022
  • Review photo of Matanzas State Forest by Stuart K., November 10, 2022
  • Review photo of Matanzas State Forest by Stuart K., November 10, 2022
  • Review photo of Matanzas State Forest by Stuart K., November 10, 2022
  • Review photo of Matanzas State Forest by Stuart K., November 10, 2022
  • Review photo of Matanzas State Forest by Stuart K., November 10, 2022
  • Review photo of Matanzas State Forest by Stuart K., November 10, 2022
  • Review photo of Matanzas State Forest by Stuart K., November 10, 2022
  • Review photo of Matanzas State Forest by Stuart K., November 10, 2022
  • Review photo of Matanzas State Forest by Stuart K., November 10, 2022