Ocala National Forest

Map of Ocala National ForestThe 607 sq. mile Ocala National Forest is located 18 miles northwest of Orlando and consists of forested woodlands, palmetto landscapes, lakes, creeks and crystal clear freshwater springs. You can walk, bike or ride on horseback over numerous trails throughout the park, many of which begin by the springs which are spread out over the area. Typical scenes include regimental pine trees, low and high level palms, wispy Maiden Hair moss hanging from branches overhead, and trickling creeks with turquoise colours. The park also contains what is known as the second largest lake in Florida, but Lake George is actually a very wide part of the St Johns river. The water near the shoreline is very shallow, with unusual colours, and palm trees line its banks. The shaded forest provides a welcome retreat from the sub-tropical sun and even on busy holidays you can find peace and quiet.

Ocala National Forest - Typical water scene
Ocala National Forest – Typical water scene
Ocala has a wide variety of wildlife. The Florida Black Bear population has it’s highest concentration here. Whitetail deer, wild boar, and numerous small animals, including opossum, raccoon, and armadillo can be found as well. The sandy soil is home to the Gopher Tortoise.The forest is riddled with slow-moving rivers and wet “prairies”. They are sunny, shallow expanses of water, usually ringed by cypress trees and filled water lilies and other with aquatic plants. Between the river boundaries of this Forest lie central highlands, coastal lowlands, swamps, springs and hundreds of lakes and ponds. Near the Juniper Prairie Wilderness and Juniper River is “The Yearling Trail”, the location where The Yearling was filmed.

Ocala National Forest - Lake George
Lake George

The hundreds of forest lakes and grassy ponds also provide some of the state’s most outstanding bass fishing opportunities with world-renowned Rodman Reservoir system forming most of the northern and north western border as part of the Ocklawaha River Basin.

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