Explore the most popular camping trails in Ocala National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Nice visit. Brief. You can hear hwy40. Entry fee of $5 is worth it. Nice boardwalk. Not a Florida state forest. Not a Florida state park. Some type a private entity.

hiking
16 days ago

Great trail. Could use a few more double blazes
At some of the confusing area Thanks FTA for the great boardwalks and bridges. Was prepared for the mosquitos but not the ticks, oh my. But still a great day and hike.

Nice area for birding with lots of elevation changes

Nice tree canopy, not a lot of litter like I've seen on other trails, bring bug spray the skeeters are huge, I saw loads of wildlife even had several woodpeckers follow me through the trail. This is one of the better trails I've been on. Good stuff, always remember. Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints. Enjoy fellow hikers.

Since we were going only to hike, the very short walk to the spring amidst swimmers was not worth the $10 park entry.

2 months ago

This trail is beautiful but we found the area to be very unsafe. I would give the natural wildlife 5 stars, but the local wildlife gets 0.

I've backpacked around Florida in the Econnolatchee areas and up in Washington State, so my boyfriend and I knew to keep all food and smellables in a bear bag. We were really excited about the hike based on the reviews and history we had read about on All Trails. We camped one night and our walk in was a little muddy but fairly dry and spiderless. We were greeted by a manatee gasping for breath when we finally reached riverside. There was some trash but we didn't think too much about it. Needless to say everything was great until about 11:30 PM when some ATVers rolled up a few feet from our sleeping bags.

Turns out the road where the trail meets the river (at the end) is public access and the locals go up here to party. This is why it is littered with garbage and apparently no restriction on ATVs and offroading. If we had known this we would have never camped here. We ended up getting visits from 3 different groups of people that night and the last group cut our bear bag and stole all of our food and toiletries. (Hope you enjoy our used toothbrushes and mixed nuts).

We are used to camping with other people around, but the problem with this campsite is that it has access to public back roads that only interest people that want to party away from the cops. This place is not camper friendly and is a day use area only.

Walked to Hidden Pond over MLK. Beautiful scenery and friendly people. Parked at Juniper Springs and walked out and back. Highly recommend. Plenty of water sources out there

camping
3 months ago

We completed the east portion of the trail and camped by the river at St Francis in mid January. West part of the trail was still too wet and muddy, so we returned back the same way we came avoiding the swampy part of the loop.
Weather was beautiful with 55 during the day and 39 degrees at night. Starry night sky, beautiful nature with unfortunate signs of human presence in the form of dropped cans and food wraps that we picked up on the way back.
No mosquitoes. Saw remains of armadillo who became someone’s dinner and presence of bears , but no bears themselves. Still very glad we hanged the food and garbage high up on the tree branch at night. Saw a white tail deer.
There is nothing left of town of St Francis. The nature claimed it back completely.

on St. Francis Trail

hiking
3 months ago

AMAZING! Beautiful trail that took us by the St. Johns River with interesting topography. Pay attention to the trail markers. A couple of times we almost lost the trail but it was easy to double back. Not a lot of people there so a peaceful time spent in the woods.

hiking
4 months ago

The trail was great for me because I love a good adventure but for about a mile and a half or so the trail was completely under water up to about me knee from the hurricane I would definitely go again when the water goes down. On the trail I brought a pair of trekking poles which save my tail a few times from falling also I would where a pair of quick dry shoes because I wore a pair of heavy duty hiking boots and they took a good 3 days to dry. I also got a lot of really bad chigger bites that still itch every once in while and I went on the trail about 2 months ago so I would definitely wear and have bug spray and a lot of it. Anyway good luck.

Good hike but, be aware there is hunting season so avoid very early morning or evening/night hikes. Wear bright colors and bring a whistle to make noise every so often to let know your presence and location.

hiking
4 months ago

Really nice trail. Well blazed. Water got too deep for me today. Will deff come back in the dry season to finish the whole loop. But what I saw today was beautiful. Old oak hammocks and pine flat woods. Worth going

hiking
5 months ago

I’m not sure this trail is really on AllTrails. But there are two of them. Lake eaton One is a sinkhole there’s a boardwalk. It’s pretty amazing. I missed it the last time I was here somehow. The other is a trail around the lake. Lake eaton. You have a feeling of real isolation when you’re here. But you’re really not that far from Silver Springs. You know you stayed at the right hotel when at the elevator they show a map how to get to this place. I came early in the morning 6:30 AM I thought I might hear more birds. But still a very fun walk invigorating. 56°

What started as a planned two-night backpack hike at a leisurely pace turned into something different. I headed out 3pm Friday and hiked 4.5 miles. I set up camp to enjoy a nice quiet evening under the stars. Right around 8 pm everything changed. Convoys (Maybe 15) of 4x4 trucks started down the Forestry Services roads. Then between 9pm - 1am the hounds were running all over the park tracking deer. The gun fire was the whipped cream on the cake. This was not an occasional shot, there were semi auto discharges (of multiple calibers) as late as 3:30 am. I decided to leave the next day after making it to Alexander springs after finding fresh 45 cal shell casings on the path back to Clearwater Trailhead. Hunting season was supposed to start the next week, so I am very curious as to what was going on.

My advice, do not go camping in this area until Forestry can address this (if they address this). Look at when Hunting season is avoid planning your camping trip close to that time. Thankfully my family were not with me. Also, this is not a 9.3 mile hike per this site. This is more than 11 miles one way.

Absolutely stunning place to visit. Has a swimming hole and lots of camping. Recommend visiting here at least once

Nice trail with lots of water...wear your boots if it rains.

Did this section and another farther south over labor day for a 25 mile point-to-point.

Pros: Trail was lovely and well maintained. Literally had the trail to myself on a holiday weekend because it isn't "hiking season" in FL yet. Flat and easy to put in miles.

Cons: It wasn't hiking season for a reason, temps were in the 90's both days and the ticks and chiggers were out in force. Water is pretty available but requires some nerve to wade out to depending on which pond you're at.

hiking
8 months ago

I can't wait to try this walk in the fall, and it's not so humid sure mosquitoes, fewer biting flies. I think would've really like about this trail is how far off the beaten path you feel. What are you are you go on several dirt roads to get to it. And you won't likely see anybody on the trail, although they are wonderfully marked with signs throughout about the wildlife. The boardwalk so great if only I could learn to walk without scaring off all the wildlife. Lots of spiderwebs so bring a Walkingstick. If her last birds in the morning humidity is still very high.

hiking
8 months ago

There are two trails here. I went on the sinkhole loop first. If you like isolated, thick woods and narrow trAils this is perfect. I only had time to do a little bit of the lake eaton trail. I'll be back to see the lake. Once again I used the trekking poles brother Jim gave me. Thanks Jim

hiking
9 months ago

I didn't enjoy the hike as much as I could have due to the large amount of hand-sized banana spiders covering the trail everywhere. I love being outside and seeing wildlife, but the spiders got in the way of that- with having to duck and crawl under the webs without disturbing/having a huge spider fall on oneself. We ducked/passed/saw at least 40 of them. Besides that, the trail seemed well maintained, lightly trafficked. If the arachnophobia hadn't gotten to me, I probably would've finished the trail and enjoyed it more!!

hiking
9 months ago

A nice, but unspectacular jaunt. I found the high point to be the trail's diversity. Starting (and finishing) in a beautifully canopied oak forest, this well maintained loop then drops into a semi tropical river floodplain. I did it in July (rainy season) so there was a fair share of ankle deep water covering short stretches of trail for the couple miles between the forrest and St John's. The St John's reveal is nice - if not striking - and as you meander back toward the loop, it is easy to imagine a riverfront community on the sandy bluff. The early part of return piece of the loop (assuming a counter clockwise trip) hikes like a pine scrub with a nice mix of Magnolias, many still flowering, adding an occasional touch of shade and pretty to the walk. All to soon you are back in the oak forest (with well placed boardwalks to keep the feet dry). The yellow loop is worth the diversion. During low water and cooler weather, I'd probably call this an Easy. July heat, puddle hopping in the wet lowlands and the resultant wet feet probably nudge it to moderate.

Starting from Clearwater Lake the first 6 miles are wonderful. A bit of roll through a pine Forrest and then down into the typical Central Florida lowland. The final three miles are also rather pretty with a most excellent boardwalk closing out the FT segment. But the middle 3 miles are pretty much Mordor. The look is a 3 year ago fire took most of the trees, leaving the occasional 20 foot high charred stick. What has replaced the pine scrub is 6 foot high dense undergrowth with complete sun exposure. Add in silly me choosing a cloudless July afternoon to take the stroll and this Frodo is asking Golum for directions by mile 7. But hey, it's a hike not a Disney walk so part of the why we do this stuff is dealing with what the day throws at you. Finally the Pines return and you take the boardwalk and then the final half mile along a bike friendly path to the front gate of Alexander Springs Park - here is where this day gets special. You walk past the bathing suit picnickers to the waters edge. You wade into an incredibly cool, sandy bottom, Florida Spring that melts the sand and sweat into that special feeling of a diem well seized.

hiking
11 months ago

This was a nice scenic trail, but we didn't see the ruins anywhere. I think it may have been down an unmarked side trail :T Wish it had been marked, I would have liked to have seen that.

We also saw a snake that appeared to be a cottonmouth, so watch out for those too.

lots to do. lots of trails everywere. unfortunately couldn't do the spring it was after a hurricane so a lot of down trees in the path

I want to begin by apologizing for underestimating Central Florida's section of the FNST. This Hike was B.E.A.utiful!
We did it (04.01.2017) from Alexander Springs to Clearwater. It was hot (89°F)! especially the sand scrub section (no canopy coverage). That didn't last too long, however, so it was still very pretty!
At the beginning it looks like everything else in Central Florida (I hike here a lot), then moves onto the sand scrub, to a more jungle like area (with a couple of boardwalks) to just forest. The canopy coverage does open and close from time to time, so the sun still gets to you. The most scenic part of it all was between FR69 to Clearwater trailhead. Didn't even look like Florida and had very obvious elevation changes (didn't expect that).
Definitely more than 11 miles and we didn't see any bear or deer, just an armadillo, a scorpion and the usual birds and insects. Watch out for ticks and mosquitos.
I'm more than likely going back to hike and camp on the trail. But I'll probably wait until after summer...yeesh!

Parked at Clearwater Friday afternoon. Hiked 3 miles in to set up camp. Hiked to Alexander Springs Saturday morning and then continued out 3 miles past Farles Prairie before turning back. Set up camp just south of 19 and returned to Clearwater Sunday. Saturday was a big day-28 miles. Great hike!

backpacking
Sunday, December 04, 2016

This is actually the hidden pond trail, you start at Juniper Springs and pay ten dollars per day for secure parking and you are also allowed to use their showers and facilities when you get back including a dip in the springs. The hike is boring at the start and then in the middle quite beautiful. My kids thought we were in Africa. The last 2/3 of the trail are very exposed so it will be hot. Hidden Pond is spring fed and crystal clear. A great destination. Filter the water and get there early cause it fills up fast on the weekends!

hiking
Monday, March 21, 2016

Short trail but a nice few along the creek with the bubbling springs along the way. The boardwalk makes for an easy walk

hiking
Monday, January 18, 2016

Nice camping sites. The spring water is so clear it was an amazing place.

This is s short trail , mostly you walk on the boardwalk but very beautiful. Few spits where you see the water bubbling from the ground. Very impressive. Nice and easy walk.

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