The Ocala National Forest is comprised of 383,220 acres and is located in north-central Florida north of Orlando. There are eleven developed campgrounds, eight of which met the selection criteria.
Established in 1908, Ocala National Forest receives more visitors than the other national forests in Florida. The topography allows for a wide variety of environments and consists of highlands, coastal lowlands, swamps, springs, lakes and ponds. Vegetation ranges from lush subtropical to prairie. Towering palms, large live oaks, and sand pine dominate the forest's scrub oak ecosystem. In the areas with more moisture, hardwoods thrive beside Longleaf and Slash pines. And the camping locations range from undeveloped (a.k.a. dispersed) to a pseudo-resort for recreational vehicle (RV) and motorhome camping enthusiasts. Because they are undeveloped and do not meet the selection criteria, undeveloped camping locations are not included in this campground review. Contact Forest Service for information on undeveloped or dispersed camping.
The variety of topography and vegetation found in the Ocala National Forest enhances the pleasure of the many hikes found in the Forest. The Silver Glen Spring Trail (near Salt Springs campground) starts at a bubbling spring, winds past palmetto bushes and sand oaks and ends at a point on Lake George. Alexander Springs features a self-guided interpretative hike through subtropical vegetation and highlights local plants used by early Native Americans. Salt Springs Trail (near Salt Springs campground) winds through two miles of sand pine, hardwood hammocks, pond and slash pine and cypress ending at a series of wildlife observation platforms. Possibly the greatest variety of topography and vegetation can be observed along the Florida National Scenic Trail. Sixty-five miles long and running north to south through the Ocala, this scenic trail can be accessed at various points at or near several campgrounds.
Alternative activities found in the Ocala National Forest are the twenty-two mile loop Paisley Woods Bicycle Trail, which links the Alexander Springs and Clearwater Lake Recreation Areas. There are also one-hundred miles of horse trails and numerous lakes and streams (mostly called "Runs") some of which are ideal for canoeing. One such canoe trail is found at Juniper Springs campground along Juniper Creek. It is seven miles long, narrow and a delightful subtropical experience.
With most of the campgrounds can accommodate car, tent, RV and motorhome camping and open all year, along with a nice variety of recreational activities, and diversity in topography and vegetation the Ocala National Forest is popular for family camping vacations as well as with solitary camper looking for quiet and solitude. Many Florida tourist attractions are located nearby results in the Ocala National Forest often overlooked by visitors to the state. This means more room for those who have discovered this popular Florida National Forest. Come and discovered it for yourself.
USDA Forest Service
325 John Knox Rd.
Tallahassee, Florida 32303
RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES
17147 E. Hwy. 40
Silver Springs, Florida 34488-5849
40929 State Rd. 19
Umatilla, Florida 32784