About the Forest
The National Forests in Florida manage three national forests: the Apalachicola, Osceola and Ocala. Combined, these national forest lands span almost 1.2 million acres in north and central Florida. That 1.2 million acres includes about 500,000 acres of wetlands and more than 85,000 acres of designated federal wilderness. More than 1,400 miles of trails and 118 developed recreation sites host more than 1.1 million visitors every year.
Florida’s national forests also house more than 3,700 documented archaeological sites and nearly 55 historic sites. Our employees also care for 136 plant species and 36 animal species that are either threatened or endangered.
The Apalachicola National Forest is home to some of the most unique animal and plant species in the world. Here, visitors enjoy safe, family-friendly activities such as fishing, hunting, hiking and trail riding while surrounded by tranquil, diverse ecosystems.
Established in 1936, the Apalachicola is the largest national forest in Florida, covering about 574,000 acres. Located in the Florida Panhandle, southwest of Tallahassee, the Apalachicola is one of the most biodiverse forests in the country and is home to the largest recovered population of endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers in the world. The Apalachicola’s fragile savannahs are open wet, grassy areas that provide refuge for an unusual combination of grasses, delicate orchids and carnivorous pitcher plants.
In addition to numerous recreation opportunities on our waterways and trails - including 67 linear miles of the Leon Sinks (area is unavailable), an unusual geological area of caverns and sinkholes, and the Apalachee Savannahs (area is unavailable), with their stunning wildflower displays in open prairies near the Apalachicola River.
For history buffs, a visit to Prospect Bluff Historic Sites (area is unavailable), also known as British Fort National Historic Landmark and/or Fort Gadsden, a military fort along the Apalachicola River dating back to the War of 1812, is a must. Original earthworks and interpretive information present the colorful history of this strategic location along the Apalachicola River.
Nestled between well-known theme parks and white, sandy beaches, the jewels of the Ocala National Forest attract visitors from around the world.
A travel destination in its own right, the Ocala features more than 600 lakes and rivers where visitors enjoy swimming, fishing, snorkeling, canoeing and boating.
From migratory birds and playful manatees to delicate freshwater springs and some of the world's rarest plants, the Ocala is a haven for people (and animals) to escape to one of Florida's remaining wild places. Here, opportunities abound for all to bask in the wonders of Mother Nature 365 days a year.
President Theodore Roosevelt officially proclaimed the Ocala National Forest in 1908 making it the oldest national forest in Florida. Covering about 387,000 acres, the Ocala is the southernmost forest in the continental United States and protects the world's largest contiguous sand pine scrub forest. The Ocala is home to one-quarter of the world’s threatened Florida scrub-jay population.
The Osceola National Forest is a peaceful place where people come to escape their busy lives and reconnect with the land. Flatwoods and swamps transport visitors back in time and provide a tranquil setting for first-rate hunting, fishing and swimming opportunities.
The Osceola was created by a Presidential Proclamation in 1931 and covers almost 237,000 acres. Located between Lake City and Jacksonville and bisected by Interstate 10, the Osceola is Florida's northernmost and smallest national forest. It includes several wildernesses and a wildlife corridor that stretches north towards the Okeefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia.
Off-road vehicles are welcome to use unpaved forest roads to explore the forest, except where boundary markers indicate otherwise. Forest roads may be walked, bicycled, or explored on horseback. Backpackers enjoy a 20-mile segment of the Florida National Scenic Trail which stretches from Deep Creek to Olustee Battlefield State Park.