Description - Osceola National Forest rests on 200,000 acres in North Central Florida offering a playground to campers, hikers, anglers, picnickers, bicyclist and nature lovers. Osceola teems with plant, animal and birdlife. Miles of the Florida National Scenic Trail bisect the tract with the designated wilderness area Big Gum Swamp lying north of the trail and the recreation haven Ocean Pond lying south of the trail. Over 50 miles of equestrian path is offered in the western parcel of the National Forest. Historians will find Olustee Battlefield Historic Site of particular interest during its February re-enactment days. Hog Pen Landing is ideal for folks desiring eerie excursions amid shaded Spanish moss trails. The Forest even offers, with advance notification, a secluded overnight recreation site for groups. From horse camping to sunbathing to backcountry wilderness hikes, visitors find Osceola National Forest an outdoor wonderland.
Copyright: - US Forest Service
Ocean Pond, Osceola National Forest
- Osceola's 200,000 acres of forested woodlands and swamps provide many opportunities for a wide range of visitor experiences. Cypress, black gum, bay and pine trees stand tall to greet you as you enter the Osceola's marshy terrain. At Olustee Beach, visitors can swim along a shallow, sandy beach and watch the water birds wade through cypress knees. Water-ski along the glassy, windless lake or watch the white caps roll on windy days. Visitors may also enjoy fishing, picnicking or hiking at this day use area.
On a fateful day in 1864, North met South in a battle on an area that is now part of the Osceola National Forest. Now, annually during the Presidents' Day weekend in February, the Olustee Battlefield Historic Site plays host to thousands of Confederate and Union soldier re-enactors, sutlers and camp followers from all over the nation.
Other amenities within Osceola include boat launches, fresh drinking water, public telephones, hot showers, trail shelters, picnic shelters, and trailer dump stations.
Recreation - More than just camping is offered at the Forest's developed campground, Ocean Pond. Visitors will also find swimming, picnicking, boating and hiking. One of the favorite features of the campground is the lakeside sites where boats may be kept at camp. If you happen to miss out on these sites, there are many other sites with their own unique features. Primitive areas include East Tower, West Tower, or Hog Pen Landing that offers a small primitive site with a toilet and a public boat launch. Equestrians will find four interconnected loops transverse over 50 miles of trails throughout the National Forest. Trails originate at West Tower where there is a camping area with horse stalls. Hunting is a popular pastime at Osceola. Nine hunt camps are open year-round. Visitors will also find an historic site, Olustee Battlefield, a group area, and abundant plant life and wildlife viewing opportunities. Longleaf and slash pine woods, and cypress swamps are distinctive features providing habit for red-cockaded woodpeckers, rufous-sided towhees, Bachman's sparrows, pine warblers, northern bobwhite, pileated woodpeckers, great blue heron, white-tailed deer, gray fox, bobcat and much more.
See Osceola Trail for details about Osceola's segment of the Florida National Scenic Trail.
Climate - Florida experiences mild, comfortable winters and warm to hot, humid summers. The area offers a great warm escape for outdoor recreation during the cold northern months. Summer temperatures average in the low 80's Fahrenheit and mid 20's Celsius. Winters are mild with temperatures averaging between the high 40's to the high 50's Fahrenheit. The average precipitation for the north central area is diverse. The central western area receives more than 60 inches per year while the central eastern tract receives about 50 inches. August and September are peak months of the hurricane season that lasts from June 1 through November 30.
The Osceola National Forest is located in northern Florida, just northeast of Lake City and about 40 miles west of Jacksonville. The Forest office is located in Olustee. The Headquarters for the National Forests of Florida is located in Tallahassee.