Hernando and Citrus counties are home to the Brooksville Ridge. The ridge has large amounts of limestone, which is used for many of the mines in the area. The ridge also has several caves. Some of these caves are in the Withlacoochee State Forest and open to the public.
Some of the publicly accessible caves are located just north of the Hernando County line in Citrus, off of County Road 491. Parking for Dames Cave is across from W Lone Ct. on 491. This parking lot leads to Trail 22. It can be found on Google Maps listed as Dames Cave Unofficial Parking. Dame Cave is located right on Trail 22.
Dames Cave is about 15 feet deep, and the roof has collapsed in the first large room so you can see out. Off of that room, there are two smaller caves with relatively narrow entrances. You can see the flow of the water and minerals along the cave’s ceilings.
The main room of this cave, with the collapsed ceiling, is a relatively easy climb down. The smaller caves require crawling and a flashlight. The cave is larger than the others and can accommodate a few groups simultaneously.
The peace cave used to have a gate across the entrance; you can still see part of it. It is a more challenging climb and you definitely need a light source. It has a large room, and a passage goes down and then comes back up into a different part of the room.
This cave entrance is more challenging; it involves climbing down rocks and twisting yourself to fit through relatively narrow passages. Only one person at a time can enter or leave the cave.
A little further east on Trail 22 is another cave. It is widely visited, and there is a beaten path from the trail to the cave. It is off the trail to the south, a few hundred feet. This cave descends into a room that slopes down with a low ceiling. There is a turn at the bottom of that room and another smaller room. In this cave, there was a bat, and it was not disturbed by all the visitors.
The cave entrance was low but not that challenging, as it was a gradual descent. The cave is narrow, and one group often waits until the previous group leaves before entering.
These caves are open to the public, and unfortunately, they are covered in graffiti. These are limestone caves, and you can see the interesting formations. However, some of the interesting rocks and flows have been broken off and taken as souvenirs. Even though there are many visitors, the caves are still home to some wildlife.