Fort Cooper State Park is a 710-acre historic site located 2 miles south of Inverness. It is the former location of a field fortification build in 1836 during the early days of the Second Seminole War.
The park is named for Major Mark Anthony Cooper, commander of 380 men of the First Georgia Battalion Volunteers and an artillery company of a few army regulars. He built the fort to protect sick and wounded members of Gen. Winfield Scott’s troops who were impeding the march south to Fort Brooke (present day Tampa). However, while waiting for relief troops to show up, Major Cooper and his men were found and attacked by Osceola and other Seminole Chiefs. The siege lasted for 16 days until a relief column arrived. During this time, the Georgia Battalion sustained approximately 20 wounded and 1 dead.
Every year in March, a reenactment of this historic battle takes place during Fort Cooper Days at the park. The 2018 event is scheduled for the weekend of 17-18 March from 9a.m. to 4p.m. The reenactments take place at 11a.m. and 2p.m. each day. There will also be historic and modern artisans on hand, living history demonstrations, exhibits, food and refreshments. An admission fee is charged for those 13 years of age or older.
Facilities, Activities, and Events
Fort Cooper State Park has 2 entrances. The main entrance for motor vehicles is off South Old Floral City Road. There is also an entrance off the Withlacoochee State Trail for trail users. The main trail through the park from this entrance is asphalt-paved. An entry fee is collected at both entrances.
Recreational activities offered include swimming, fishing, boating, hiking, picnicking, volleyball, horseshoes, birding, geocaching, and primitive camping. The 160-acre Lake Holathlikaha supports fishing, swimming, birding, and boating. Canoes can be rented, but private boats are not permitted on the lake. A picnic pavilion and barbeque pit can be rented, as can a rustic lodge with air conditioning, heat, a fireplace, and a small kitchen. The lodge can accommodate up to 47 people for wedding receptions, reunions, and other get-togethers. A small gazebo can also be reserved for wedding ceremonies. There is a primitive campground with sites for groups of up to 20 people at the south end of the lake. Call the park at (352)726-0315 for facilities and camping reservations. Located in a hardwood hammock near the lake is a picnic area with playground.
As part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, the park contains nearly 5 miles of trails for hiking and wildlife viewing. Signage along the trails provides information on the human and natural history of the area. Dogs are allowed on the hiking trails and in the picnic area but must be restrained on a leash no longer than 6 feet. They are not permitted on the beach, in the water, or in the campground.
A schedule of upcoming events in the park can be found at: this web site
Hours of access are 8a.m. to sunset, 365 days a year. The park is located at:
3100 South Old Floral City Road
Inverness FL 34450