Description - The word Ocala is thought to be a derivative of a Timucuan Indian term meaning fair land or big hammock. This is understandable when viewing Ocala's lush vegetation. The color green graces the forest floor and extends to the treetops. Only the blue sky breaks the emerald display. Visitors will be amazed at the abundant plant life, wildlife and birdlife amid the beautiful environment
Copyright: Patty Elton-Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
Florida's Fascinating Natural Beauty
The visitor centers provide a wonderful overview and an excellent selection of nature and forest educational material, maps, and area brochures. The hours are 9 A.M. - 5 P.M. daily. Centers are located along State Route 19, 7 miles south of Alexander Springs (Seminole District); along State Route 19 in Salt Springs (Lake George District); and along the western boundary at Highway 40 and County Route 315 (District boundary).
- As one of America's most visited National Forests, Ocala is centrally located near the world-renowned theme parks. Visitors can find refreshment amid the cool green vegetation of towering palms, large live oaks and scrubby sand pines. Sparkling blue waters entice boaters and anglers year-round. This district boasts wonder options including Lake George, Lake Kerr, Lake Ocklawaha, Lake Lou, Lake Charles, and more.
As a reminder, the U.S. Forest Service offers discounts to seniors and to disabled citizens. Visitor centers provide detailed discount information..
The U.S. Forest Service has created a number of recreation areas with lovely campsites, picnic grounds with grills, shelters, multi-use trails, swimming holes, snorkeling pools and so much more.
Recreation - Located in the northern area of Ocala, this ranger district has fabulous fishing and recreation lakes, two designated wilderness areas, an interesting geological area, a shooting range, and a variety of multi-use areas including Hopkins Prairie, Salt Springs, Grassy Pond, Lake Eaton and the beautiful Silver Glen Springs. From scuba diving to outdoor dining to trail blazing, Lake George Ranger District limits those only limited by their imagination.
Thirty-nine miles of the Florida National Scenic Trail are offered in the Lake George Ranger District. Sights along the way include Lake DeLancy, Grassy Pond, Salt Springs and the fabulous Juniper Prairie Wilderness. Details about the Forest's portion of the trail may be found under Florida National Scenic Trail.
Off-road vehicle use is permitted on the Ocala National Forest's marked and unmarked roads. Visitor centers provide a detailed map that shows some of these locations and the restricted areas
A new trail along State Highway 19 across from Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area provides a 6-mile hike into Juniper Prairie Wilderness Area. The trail is named "The Yearling," after Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' 1939 Pulitzer Prize winning novel. It was along this trail that Hollywood came and filmed the 1870-era movie depicting the famed story of a 12-year old boy whose father was driven to abolish the pet fawn because it destroyed their meager food crops.
Climate - The Ranger District experiences mild, comfortable winters and warm to hot, humid summers. Summer Fahrenheit temperatures average in the mid to high 80's (28 - 29 Celsius). Winters are mild and dry with temperatures averaging 58 - 64 degrees Fahrenheit (14 - 18 Celsius). Precipitation for the central area averages anywhere from 56 inches to less than 52 inches per year. The region offers a great warm escape for outdoor recreation during the cold northern months. August and September are peak months of the hurricane season that lasts from June 1 through November 30.
Lake George District lies in the northern half of Ocala National Forest. The dividing line is State Route 40.