Location: Inverness, Florida
Webpage: Florida State Park
General Description: In April, 1836, during the Second Seminole War, Major Mark Anthony Cooper built a simple stockade fort near the lake’s edge to protect the sick and wounded left behind by General Scott as he continued on to Fort Brooke near present day Tampa. Major Cooper was told to hold his position until relief troops would arrive in 9 days. However, by the third day the Seminoles, led by Osceloa, discovered Major Cooper and kept them under constant daily attacks. After 16 days, with provisions running out, a relief column arrived to save them. During the two week siege, the Georgia Battalion sustained 20 men wounded, but lost only one man. Fort Cooper was used as a reconnaissance and observation post until when the Seminoles had been pushed far enough south to secure the area. Today the park provides a refuge for many plants and animals with inland woods featuring hammocks of hickory, oak, magnolia, and sweet gum and dry, open forests of longleaf pine and turkey oak in their sandhill community covering 710 acres.
1) The picnic area was very nice with multiple picnic tables, small pavilions, playground, and small beach.
2) The hiking trail from the parking lot to the fort site is paved much of the way, which was a surprise for a state park. The Fort Site Trail is 1.5 miles loop with the site a short distance down the trail. Hiking is easy along the level, sandy trail.
3) The fort site, itself was a bit of a disappointment, as there is nothing left of the fort, although they have reconstructed a short piece of the stockade. I suppose this should not be very surprising since it was only a palisade wall that was used for only 8 years.
4) The Sandhill Loop trail is a 1.8 mile loop through the sandhill community. This is just a remnant of the sandhill community of longleaf pine and turkey oaks that is going to be difficult to maintain. First, the state park is not very large with residential communities and busy roads surrounding the park making it very difficult to conduct a burning regime that is essential for the sandhill community.