off road bike track

Camp, Bike, Paddle and Play at CroomFest 2023

By Diane Bedard Posted on January 18, 2023

Croomfest 2023 is a three- to four-day event February 3-6, where friends and family gather at the Withlacoochee State Forest’s Silver Lake Recreation Complex to enjoy the outdoors on Florida’s Nature Coast. Put on by the SWAMP Mountain Bike Club and Bike Florida, Croomfest attracts cycling enthusiasts from all around the State and beyond!

The main event is a 35/50 mile bike ride that registered riders can choose to participate in either on pavement or in the dirt on Saturday, February 4, 2023. This isn’t just any trail ride even when you discount the distance.

With 300-plus riders coming into Silver Lake Recreation Complex in Florida’s Adventure Coast, Croomfest promoters have proven that they know how to throw a party!

The Withlacoochee State Forest is a 164,073-acre Florida State Forest spanning parts of Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Pasco, and Sumter Counties. It features horse trails, hiking trails, motorcycle trails, canoe/kayak trails, and the longest single track mountain biking trail in Florida!

The 35/50 Offroad Biking Challenge at Croomfest

Croomfest challenges participants to a 35- or 50-mile endurance ride through the Withlacoochee State Forest’s Croom mountain bike trails. This is an endurance challenge, not a race. Along the route, Support and Gear (SAG) stops are available for rehydrating and snacks to all participants.

Located in the Withlacoochee State Forest, Croom, with its limestone quarry pits and up-and-down hilly terrain, is unlike much of Florida’s flat landmass. Over fifty miles of singletrack with real elevation gain, make Croom a real challenge for bicyclists to complete.

croomfest 2023
Over fifty miles of singletrack with real elevation gain, make Croom a real challenge for bicyclists to complete. Image courtesy of Croomfest.

Longer distances of 35- to 50-mile rides combine with extended climbs to make some epic, heart pounding, leg screaming rides. For those who want more than just distance and climbing, the abandoned quarries feature short but steep climbs and drops on the ‘Drunken Monkey’ path. Think of it as a BMX park for mountain bikes.

Enjoy a Paved Ride on the Withlacoochee State Trail or the Good Neighbor Trail

If the off-road biking looks intimidating, choose to join Croomfest for a spin on the 46-mile Withlacoochee State Trail, one of the longest paved trails in Florida. This relaxing ride rolls through small towns like Inverness, Floral City, and Dade City, and nature preserves.

Join Bike Florida for a 35/50 mile paved trail ride on Saturday, Feb. 4 along the Withlacoochee State Train and the Good Neighbor Trail. Image from Pixabay.

Or pedal the Good Neighbor paved trail from Silver Lake Campgrounds into historic Brooksville.

Bike Florida will lead a 35- and 50-mile tour along the Good Neighbor Trail and the Withlacoochee Trail, but riders may tailor their own ride at any time.

Full SAG support will be offered with rest stops along the way of each route to refill your water, grab a snack and catch your breath. Rides kick off at 8:30 a.m. All riders will meet at the day use area of the Silver Lake Recreation Complex, where rides will start.

Croomfest SAG stop
Support and Gear (SAG) stops are available for all participants. Image courtesy of Croomfest.

Croomfest Features all sorts of Outdoor Activities for all Ages

Come spend the day or the weekend in nature and beauty! Beverages, food trucks, music and friends await all at Croomfest 2023. SWAMP members can camp at Silver Lake Recreation Area where a vendor village will be set up.

There is a stage with live music, plenty of beer and liquid refreshments, and an organized Paddle and Play option where a jump-ramp track with a soft landing is set up by Adrenaline Bikes and participants can session as much as they like over the weekend.

Try the jump-ramp track with a soft landing is set up by Adrenaline Bikes of Mt. Dora. Participants can session as much as they like over the weekend with the Paddle and Play package. Image courtesy of Adrenaline Bikes Facebook page.

On Sunday, a 3-hour guided paddle on Silver Lake is part of the Paddle and Play package. It will be led by wilderness guides Brian Boyle, Michele Logan, and YouTube guru, Clint Gibbs. Bring your own kayak to participate.

Come shop for the latest gear, demo the most current bikes and even do some fashion shopping at Croomfest headquarters.

  • guided kayak tour of silver lake

How about the “Mix it Up Social Parade” on Sunday morning, where participants can dress up their bikes, themselves and be part of an informal parade of about ten miles that includes dirt, pavement and gravel riding. Creativity will be documented with photographic evidence as part of the fun.

Maybe you want to just hang out, listen to the birds and enjoy live music by Hurricane Eyes, Nora Ricci, and KoKo Ray?

Goodie bags will include snacks, socks, safety vests and miscellaneous items. Participants can get in on chances to take home helmets, bike racks, kayak racks and other great items. There will also be a donation table full of gently used items that need good homes. 

There is a Per Chance Drawing for a Giant Trance X 29 (thank you Giant and UBC) and a Norco bike (thank you Adrenaline Bikes) and tickets can be purchased here also

About the Organizations Behind Croomfest

The South West Association of Mountain Biking Pedalers (SWAMP) members marked, mapped and continue to maintain the Croom off-road mountain bike trails. Started in the early 1990s, and boasting 700+ members, the club labors to maintain four off-road trail systems in the Tampa Bay region, including Croom, Balm Boyette Scrub Preserve Trails, Wilderness Park and Starkey Park trail systems. Their northern volunteers are known as “The Brooksville Mafia.”

It takes a village to put on an event of this magnitude and caliber. This year, Bike Florida teamed up with SWAMP to add to the fun. Image courtesy of Croomfest.

SWAMP stages frequent meetings, rides and clinics, inviting folks to ‘leave your troubles at home and reconnect with nature.’ The cost of joining begins at $40/annually. SWAMP advocates for new trails by networking with state and county land managers. The organization works with departments of tourism, government, and professional trail organizations to promote off-road cycling.

For the 2023, SWAMP joined with Bike Florida to add a paved trail component to Croomfest. Bike Florida was founded in 1992 to help Florida communities expand their bicycle awareness, education and infrastructure through bicycle tourism. They have organized the paved trail 35/50 ride on the Good Neighbor Trail and Withlacoochee Trail.

Come as you Are to Camp, Ride, Paddle and Play!

Ticket Prices & Fees for CroomFest 2023:

Register here or come to Silver Lake Recreation Complex to register onsite for the 35/50s by 7:30 am. The off-road 35/50 is nearly sold out as of this story’s writing.

Prices for Tent Camping–

  • Thurs, Feb 2nd – Mon, Feb 6th: $100
  • Fri, Feb 3rd – Mon, Feb 6th: $89.25
  • Fri, Feb 3rd – Sun, Feb 5th: $78.50

Event Fees–

  • 35/50 Enduro Dirt: $65.00 members, $85.00 non-members
  • 35/50 Pavement Pedal: $65.00

Other Activities–

  • Mix It Up Parade- Sunday: $25.00 (Children under 12: $15.00)
  • Paddle and Play package: $40.00
  • Just Chilling package: $25.00 (Children under 12: $20.00 )

T-shirt: $25.00

Example Maximum Package –

  • Fri, Feb 3rd – Mon, Feb 6th: RV camping-4 days, plus Non-Member Enduro Dirt, Paddle Package & a T-shirt: $365

Example Minimum Package –

  • Fri, Feb 3rd – Sun, Feb 5th: Tent camping-3 days, plus Just Chilling Package: $103.50
  • Come for the just the day on Saturday or Sunday, hang around & play games: $25 -or- On Sunday for the Mix It Up Parade & Guided Ride: $25



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