Ocala National Forest is one of Central Florida's last remaining traces of forested land. The Ocala National Forest is the oldest national forest east of the Mississippi and contains the largest forest of sand pines in the world. The sand pine is the only tree capable of growing to a usable timber size in this forest's dry, sandy soil.
- Ocala National Forest, Seminole Ranger District, 40929 State Route 19, Umatilla, +1 352 669-3153.
Flora and fauna
Fees and permits
$50 for day-use recreation activities at Lake Dorr, Farles Lake, Mill Dam and Fore Lake. It is also valid for boat ramp use at Lake Dorr, Farles Lake, Mill Dam and Lake Eaton. 50% discount with possession of Golden Age Passport or Golden Access Passport.
$40 for day-use recreation activities at Juniper Springs, Silver Glen Springs, Wildcat Lake, Alexander Springs and Clearwater Lake Recreation Areas only, and is non-transferable.
$25 for the Spring Hopper Pass for day-use recreation activities at Juniper Springs, Silver Glen Springs, Wildcat Lake, Clearwater Lake and Alexander Springs Recreation Areas only. This pass is valid for a maximum of 4 persons in one vehicle for a two-day period.
- A $26.50 Wildlife Management Area Permit is required for all hunters, except those indicated as exempt.
- Campers looking for swimming, and picnicking should go to Salt, Alexander, and Juniper Springs.
- At Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area, the Lake George Trail begins a two mile journey, transversing the shoreline of the lake and ends at a scenic location overlooking a rustic pier and boathouse. A wide variety of wildlife, plants and trees can be seen along the trail.
- Alexander Springs Recreation Area, where 80 million gallons of water per day gush from the spring at a year-round temperature of 72 degrees is at the north end of the Paisley Woods Bicycle Trail. The trail, developed by the Lake County Bicycle and Pedestrian Program and Florida Free-Wheelers, Inc. in cooperation with the Forest, is 22 miles long, but shorter loops can be accessed at the halfway point.
The forest contains 12 major campsites, some with cabins. You may make reservations online or by telephone, toll free: +1-877 /+444-6777.
- Alexander Springs campsite is about four miles northeast of Buck Lake. It is close to Route 445, ten miles southwest of Astor.
- Big Bass Lake campsite is the southernmost campsite in the forest. It is known as a halfway mark between Weirsdale and Altoona.
- Big Scrub campsite is two miles northeast of the Doe Lake campsite. The nearest town to this campsite is Moss Bluff.
- Buck Lake campsite is located about 100 feet above sea level, and is where State Road 19 and Lake County road 445 meet. The campsite is three miles to the north of Altoona, and six miles north of Umatilla.
- Camp La-No-Che is a 1400-acre (5.7-km²) Boy Scout camp located on the south side of the forest in the town of Paisley.
- Clearwater Lake campsite was named after Clearwater Lake, which is close to the campsite. The nearest town to this campsite is Paisley. It is also the easternmost major campsite forest. This campsite is also close to the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge.
- The Doe Lake campsite is the closest major campground to Lake Weir. This campsite is in the west of the forest, 5 miles east of Lake Weir. The campsite lies right by the Ocklawaha River.
- Grassy Pond campsite
- Halfmoon Lake campsite is named after the nearby Halfmoon Lake.
- Hopkins' Prairie campsite
- Juniper Springs, the campsite in which is practically the center of the Ocala National Forest this campsite lies near the junction of State Road 19 and State Road 40.
- Lake Delancy campsite is the northernmost major campsite in the forest. It is 3 miles east of Rodman Reservoir. The campsite is 10 miles southeast of Orange Springs.
- Silver River campsite
Leave-no-trace camping (pack in/pack out) is available for tents only.
Bears and alligators live in the area. Approach neither.