Watermelon Pond - Visitor Information


No daily-use permit currently required.



Dogs are permitted, but must be kept under physical restraint at all times. Regulations regarding hunting dogs can be found in the regulations summary. Falcons may be used for falconry season. Other animals or pets are not allowed on the area.



On the FWC portion of the WEA, amenities include a parking area, an interpretive kiosk, two covered picnic tables and approximately eight miles of multi-purpose trails. A parking area along 250th Street on the north end of the property accommodates horse trailers and provides mounting blocks and hitching posts. A county-maintained parking area is located approximately one mile south along 250th Street. On the Goethe State Forest portion of the WEA, there is one main parking area at the trailhead along CR 337. This entrance has seven pull-through parking slots for horse trailers, a mounting block and picnic tables. A well for watering horses may be available here in the future. A seven-mile multi-use loop trail begins here and links to the eight-mile trail system on FWC property. North and south of the trailhead entrance on CR 337, three other entrances provide small parking areas, but do not link to trail systems.



In support of the resource management goals and objectives for the area and to provide a quality experience for all area users, the following recreation activities are allowed:

Seasonal Hunting

Archery and small game hunts are available on the area.  Note that some portions of the area are closed to hunting.  Consult the current hunting regulations for maps, dates and other details.  Quota permits are not required.  Hunters must possess all appropriate licenses and permits.

Wildlife Viewing

Wildlife viewing is good year-round along trails that wind through scenic sandhills, home to gopher tortoises, red-headed woodpeckers, northern bobwhite and Sherman's fox squirrels. Sandhill cranes, red-winged blackbirds, common yellowthroats and a variety of wading birds may be seen in Watermelon Pond and in seasonal wetlands. Southeastern American kestrels, eastern bluebirds and loggerhead shrikes are sometimes spotted in open pastures. Bat and kestrel nest boxes are located in the WEA.

Hiking, Bicycling and Horseback Riding

orseback riders on trail

Enjoy quiet trails

A multi-use trail system is open for equestrians, hikers and bicyclists to explore. It consists of an eight-mile loop trail on FWC property and a seven-mile loop trail on the Goethe State Forest tract. The two systems connect at a walk-through/ride-through entrance located north of the Goethe State Forest trailhead on CR 337. Trails on this new FWC property are often placed beside firebreaks. As management of this area proceeds, oak hammocks will open up and trails will be rerouted to provide increased shade and scenic views of this ever-changing landscape. Mountain bikes are recommended to negotiate soft sand. Trails traverse the sandhills and hardwood hammock and along the edge of a wet prairie and Watermelon Pond. Firebreaks are open for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. Bicycles and horses are restricted to designated trails or firebreaks. See the FWC Watermelon Pond Trail Map Adobe PDF and link to the Goethe State Forest website External Website to download their trail map.


Two covered picnic tables are located at the northern entrance on 250th Street. At the Goethe State Forest trailhead entrance along CR 337, picnic tables are located between all seven pull-through parking areas.


Public Access

The area is open to public access year-round from 1 1/2 hours before sunrise until 1 1/2 hours after sunset. Motorized vehicles are prohibited. Two entrances are located along SW 250th Street. Horse trailers are accommodated at the northernmost entrance and parking area. A third entrance and trailhead, located off of CR 337, also accommodates horse trailers. North and south of this entrance, three other entrances, with small parking areas, provide access to the area but do not link to trails. A pedestrian-only entrance is located at Watermelon Pond County Park.


Located within the city of Newberry in Alachua County, approximately 18 miles southwest of Gainesville, and five miles northwest of the community of Archer. From the intersection of W. Newberry Road and US 27/US 41, head south on US 27/US 41 for 2.9 miles. Make a sharp right at SW 46th Avenue/CR 28 and travel west 1.2 miles to SW 250th Street. Turn left on SW 250th Street and travel two miles to the north entrance and parking area on the west (right) side of road. Travel another 1.7 miles south on SW 250th Street to reach the south entrance and parking area on the west (right) side of road. To reach the trailhead entrance on CR 337 from the intersection of West Newberry Road and US 27/US 41 in Newberry, head west on West Newberry Road for 0.9 miles to a left turn onto SW 266th Street/Boundry Avenue. Travel 1.4 miles and turn right onto CR 337. Continue for five miles to entrance on east (left) side of road. From Bronson, travel north on CR 337 for approximately eight miles. The entrance will be on the east (right) side of road.



Other nearby public lands include Watermelon Pond County Park, Bell Ridge WEA and Lafayette Forest WEA.


Nearest Cities/Towns

Within the city limits of Newberry; five miles northwest of Archer; eight miles north of Bronson; 18 miles southwest of Gainesville.

FWC Facts:
The Nature Conservancy's Jay Watch program needs your help! Jay Watch volunteers assist with monitoring populations of the endemic scrub-jay and scrub vegetation conditions.

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