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“Nature....ahhhhhhh” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Ocala National Forest

Ocala National Forest
40929 State Rd 19, Umatilla, FL 32784
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Ranked #1 of 4 Attractions in Umatilla
Type: Forests, National Parks, Nature/ Wildlife Areas, Outdoors
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Attraction details
Owner description: National parkland consisting of 383,220 acres of various landscapes, including highlands, coastal lowlands, swamps, springs, lakes and ponds.
Fort Pierce, Florida
Top Contributor
58 reviews 58 reviews
29 attraction reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
44 helpful votes 44 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 14, 2014

This was our second trip to Ocala National Park. For this trip we stuck with the southern end. We pitched our tent at Clearwater Lake Recreation Area. There are no electric hookups but that was fine with us. Our site, like all the others consisted of a nice level spot, a lantern pole, a nice metal picnic table, a barbecue grill, and a fire pit.
They provide bear proof trash receptacles within a short walk of all sites, but not on the site. That's perfect. Showers with warm water, flush toilets, a dish cleaning station, and some faucets outside with potable h2o. Bathhouse was clean.

Our site was number 18 and it had a short trail, conveniently short to the lake. There are benches along the shoreline but watch for gators. We didn't see any, but this is Florida.

There is a sandy beach, which we didn't use, but it is also available for day use. Our campsite was very reasonably priced. At half the full price with our National Park Pass it came to $9.25 per night.

There were plenty of curious and gregarious squirrels, lots of birds, such as cardinals, woodpeckers, catbirds, etc. We also saw a deer down by the lake.

During the week it was low key and quiet. On Friday a large youth group arrived, and occupied several sites. They were a bit noisy but really no more than would be expected. They were having fun.

The noise that did bother us, was the traffic on the highway nearby. I suppose if you're used to it it won't bother you, but we are used to a much quieter area, where we live.

The camp host, Jeffrey was nice. Firewood is a little pricey at $6.50 per small bundle, but it is cut and split. We were free to gather wood, but we really didn't want to during this short trip.

We took a day trip to Juniper Springs. It was gorgeous, and we loved it. I was disappointed that we had to pay to get in. Most national parks honor the pass we have. We would go back. It's very picturesque.

Oh upon our entrance to Juniper we met a couple of employees guiding a pygmy rattle snake away from where people would encounter it. That was a fun thing.

Outside the gift shop is a patio area with picnic tables and flowering vines. We saw a darling little hummingbird feasting. I also spotted two types of skinks. The first is the beautiful Five-lined skink, and the other was a broad-headed skink. Both are delightful.

Along the nature trail I encountered wildflowers and birds, and butterflies and dragonflies. I loved it.

The day we left to drive south to our home we stopped at Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge. I am so glad we did. The road in brought us right through a gorgeous cypress swamp. I photographed beautiful wildflowers.

Next we walked the 1/2 mile wooded loop trail. Mosquitoes were right on cue! ugh. Bring repellent. I make my own of clove and cinnamon and it was effective. None landed on me. There are informative placards along the trail, and it is easy walking.

Finally we strolled into the wetlands area. Unfortunately we were out of time and only got to spend about an hour on that trail. Being a photographer, I tend to mosey, so I didn't get very far. I DID get lots of pictures. I was trailing behind photographing "stuff" when hubby called me to come to where he was. He had spotted a snake. Sadly, I missed it, since snakey wasted no time crossing the path.

Returning to Lake Woodruff will be high on my priority list, and I hope to spend an entire day there, exploring.

Nearby Deland, Florida seems like a nice town to explore and stop for lunch, but we were already behind schedule and had to head home.

Visited April 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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49 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
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English first
Pompano Beach, Florida
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Juniper Springs”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 5, 2013

Sept 12, 2013 Tent camped for 3 nights at the Primitive Fern Loop site. We set up camp and then went for a swim in the beautiful and 72 degree spring water to cool off. Upon our return to our site, the work camper couple came by in a golf cart and informed us that we had to relocate our camp site due to us being too close to a diseased tree and it was dangerous for us to be there! We thought we were hearing things, it was the LAST thing on our agenda that day, to move the entire site; tent, gazebo, chairs, lanterns, coolers, etc. Their response was that they would help us move, and staying put was not an option. We reluctantly complied and moved for the next hour. Very upset about it but we were at their mercy. Needless to say, when we left 3 days later, the diseased tree was still standing, in all its glory. But that was the only inconvenience of our trip. We saw wild turkeys in the camp site area, large tortoises in the springs; a plethora of wild life. The sun coming thru the 80-100' pine and oak trees in the morning made the dense forest look enchanted. Bear scat was seen on the guide walk but we never saw any. Make sure you don't feed the wildlife and keep your food and coolers in your vehicle when leaving unattended; the raccoons are very crafty and could ruin your trip. This is a great park to cool off in the summer but is very busy on the weekends with the locals; still lots of room to swim and everyone is nice and having a good time. The only way my wife could get in the water was to jump off the deck! Also don't bring any alcohol to the Springs as there is a strict Cooler Check guy at the entrance. But very fun. All the employees were very pleasant and informative. We didn't do the canoe run but went down to the start and watched people go down; its not for novices as we found out.

Visited September 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sioux City, Iowa
Senior Contributor
49 reviews 49 reviews
13 attraction reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“Great park”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 24, 2013 via mobile

Great Park. Very Clean, Terrific Staff And Awesome Springs. it was an inconvenience that you had to pay for each spring individually (Silver Springs And Juniper Springs).

Visited July 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Altoona, Florida
19 reviews 19 reviews
7 attraction reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“I Live in the Ocala National Forest”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 23, 2013

We bought a half acre with National Forest all around us. Love living out here. We see deer, bear, raccons, rabbits, turtles, and once an alligator moving from one lake to another. Lake Dorr is walking diistance behind my home. No matter what time a year there is always some wild flower blooming. Great place to live. birds singing in the mornings. Wood peckers thumping on dead trees. Peace and quiet.

Visited March 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Daytona Beach, Florida
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“Florida's best kept seceret”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 7, 2013

The Ocala National forest is the 2nd named National Forest in our Country and 1st east of the Mississippi, The forest has many small parks to visit and hundreds of miles of dirt roads to explore.

Visited May 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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