Apalachicola, Ocala and Osceola National Forests


Woodcrest Office Park
325 John Knox Road
Suite F-100
Tallahassee, FL 32303-4061
(850) 942-9300

Florida's climate and wealth of recreational opportunities attract visitors year round. The large residentpopulation of the State and the high volume of tourism results in Florida's national forests being amongthe East's most highly used forests. Despite the forests' popularity, visitors can find quiet, remote areas orenjoy the facilities of the developed recreation areas.

Lakes and Streams
Two of the most popular forms of recreation in Florida's national forests are boating and canoeing in thenumerous streams, lakes, and spring runs. The Apalachicola National Forest contains two rivers, theOchlockonee and the Sopchoppy, that are part of the State's Recreational Trails System. More than 35boat launches and landings provide access to the waters of Florida's national forests. Many of them can beused at no charge. To enjoy three major springs on the Ocala National Forest -- Juniper Springs,Alexander Springs, and Salt Springs -- canoe rentals are available; you can also launch your own.

Camping and Picnicing
For your enjoyment, there are 35 campgrounds and 16 separate picnic areas located within Florida'snational forests. You may also picnic without charge at non-fee campgrounds. At other campgrounds afee is assessed for use, and these areas are reserved specifically for camping. For more information on camping, refer to Osceola National Forest, Apalachicola National Forest and Ocala National Forest campground guides provided by the U.S. National Forest Campground Guide.

The National Forests in Florida have over 400 miles of recreational trails awaiting your exploration.Whether a hiker, horseback rider, or bicyclist, each forest has something for you.

All three National Forests in Florida offer a wide range of hiking opportunities, from short interpretivetrails to the long-distance Florida National Scenic Trail. Loop hiking trails, suitable for day hikes, arenumerous:

Apalachicola National Forest Wright Lake Trail, 4.5 miles
Trail of Lakes, 6 miles
Leon Sinks Geological Area Trail, 5.4 miles

Ocala National Forest Salt Springs Trail, 2.1 miles
Lake Eaton Loop Trail, 1.84 miles
Lake Eaton Sinkhole Trail, 2.2 miles
St. Francis Trail, 5.9 miles

The Florida National Scenic Trail is a long-distance hiking trail that will one day traverse the entire State. It will extend for 1,300 miles, from Big Cypress National Preserve in south Florida to Gulf Islands National Seashore in the State's western panhandle. Some of the longest, continuous segments of this trailare on national forest lands. Each year, additional segments are added to this trail on other public lands,bringing the trail closer and closer to completion.

Four horseback riding trails -- Baptist Lake, Flatwoods, Lake Alachua Marion (LAM), and Prairie -- on the Ocala National Forest cover a total of 134 miles. The Osceola National Forest offers nearly 40 milesof horseback riding trails in four loops. The Vinzant Riding Trail on the Apalachicola National Forestcovers 29 miles in three sections. Also on the Apalachicola National Forest, the 11-mile Munson HillsOff-Road Bicycle Trail offers a loop trail primarily for bicyclists, but hikers may also enjoy this trail.

Some national forest trails are designated for only certain types of trail use to provide a quality trailexperience and protect the natural resources. Please respect these trail designations and please be awareof others using the trails. Remember that hikers and cyclists should yield to horses, which may be easilyspooked by unfamiliar or unexpected sights or sounds.

All trails are open year-round and marked with patches of paint on trees called blazes. However, trailusers are advised to wear highly visible, orange clothing during the various hunting seasons, which startin October and end in March or April. Trail information and maps are available from any district rangeroffice or one of the visitor information centers.

Scenic Drives
The 31.5-mile Apalachee Savannahs Scenic Byway is on the western flank of the Apalachicola NationalForest. It starts just south of Bristol and consists of portions of County Roads 12 and 379 and StateHighway 65. Travelers along this Byway can view landscapes of outstanding scenic quality. They willsee uncommon savannahs, swamps, riverine systems, and the longleaf pine/wiregrass lands surrounding them. Rare and unusual plant communities with spectacular seasonal wildflower displays offer scenicbeauty and provide examples of ecological diversity.

Wilderness Areas
Seven designated wildernesses in Florida's national forests offer special opportunities for enjoying solitudeor a primitive, unconfined recreational experience. No developed recreation facilities are found withinthese wildernesses. There are few, if any, signs to guide you. Motorized equipment or any means ofmechanized transport, including off-road bicycles and motorized vehicles, are not permitted. However,any type of wheelchair or other device designed solely for use by a mobility-impaired person forlocomotion, that is suitable for use in an indoor pedestrian area, is allowed for wilderness access.

Within Florida's national forests you will find these wilderness areas:

Apalachicola National Forest
Bradwell Bay - 24,602 acres
Mud Swamp/New River - 8,018 acres

Osceola National Forest
Big Gum Swamp - 13,640 acres

Ocala National Forest
Alexander Springs - 7,985 acres
Billies Bay - 2,326 acres
Juniper Prairie - 13,875 acres
Little Lake George - 2,932

You can help protect and preserve the unique wilderness characteristics of these areas for the enjoyment of this and future generations. Please practice the no-trace ethic -- tread lightly and remember if you pack itin, pack it out.

Off-Road Vehicles
Off-road vehicles (ORV) or off-highway vehicles (OHV) are used on the forests' many miles of primitiveroads. No specific areas or trails are designed only for use by ORVs or OHVs. However, in some areas,motorized vehicle use is restricted or prohibited. Vehicles licensed by the State may be driven on Stateand Federal highways that run through the forests and on numbered roads. Unlicensed vehicles areallowed only on unnumbered forest roads -- they may not be driven on State or Federal highways, countyroads, numbered forest roads, or roads within developed recreation areas.

District Ranger Stations

Apalachicola National Forest
Apalachicola Ranger District Office
FL Highway 20
P.O. Box 579
Bristol, FL 32321
(850) 643-2282

Osceola National Forest
Osceola Ranger District Office
U.S. Highway 90
P.O. Box 70
Olustee, FL 32072
(850) 752-2577

Wakulla Ranger District Office
1773 Crawfordville Hwy
Crawfordville, FL 32327
(850) 926-3561

Ocala National Forest
Ocala National Forest Visitor Information Center
10863 E. Highway 40
Silver Springs, FL 34488

Lake George Ranger District
17147 E. Highway 40
Silver Springs, FL 34488-5849
(352) 625-2520

Seminole Ranger District
40929 State Road 19
Umatilla, FL 32303-4160

Salt Springs Ranger District
14106 N.E. Highway 19
Suite A
Salt Springs, FL 32134

Pittman Visitor Information Center
45621 State Highway 19
Altoona, FL 32702
(352) 669-7495

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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