Visit Jacksonville, Florida and the Osceola National Forest
Jacksonville, Florida is an excellent city for a southern vacation. The city offers visitors a wide variety of activities to enjoy. From fine dining to outdoor recreation, Jacksonville has something for everyone.
The city is one of the largest, in area, in the continental United States. Jacksonville covers over 840 square miles. the only city that is larger is Anchorage, Alaska. Within this city there are a wide variety of attractions and activities. Visitors can enjoy relaxing at a spa. Jacksonville also has plenty of shopping opportunities, including malls and fun boutiques. In addition, Jacksonville has plenty of fine dining, with fresh seafood and more. After spending a day enjoy the city, visitors can also enjoy the exciting nightlife of the city.
Jacksonville, in addition to having a large area, also has thousands of acres of parks and preserves. The city covers area on three rivers, including the St. Johns River. Between the rivers and the the parks, there are numerous options for recreation. Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve has trail and wildlife watching opportunities. Visitors can also hike to the Fort Caroline National Memorial, which commemorates Florida’s French colonists. Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park is a great destination for mountain biking in Florida, and it also has a beautiful beach.
Visitors to Jacksonville will love the miles of beaches. There are over 20 miles of beaches for visitors to Jacksonville to explore. The Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier is a boardwalk, great for walking and views of the coast. Jacksonville Beach’s beautiful white sands are another popular destination to enjoy all of the fun of the Florida coast.
Travelers can enjoy all different types of water recreation, including surfing, swimming and more. Wildlife watching cruises are another way to enjoy the Florida coast, and can include views of dolphins, manatees and sea birds. The beaches also provide access to golf courses. Visitors can also enjoy taking a trolley ride to Jacksonville’s beach neighborhoods.
The beautiful Osceola National Forest is also a great destination for visitors to Jacksonville. The forest covers almost 200,000 acres in northern Florida. This National Forest preserves beautiful woodland and swamp ecosystems, which include cypress, bay swamps, longleaf pine and a great place for RVers and tent campers.
Visitors to the Osceola National Forest can enjoy plenty of recreation, including hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing, swimming and more. Ocean Pond is a great lake destination within the forest, which is a great destination for swimming, boating, fishing and more. The Florida National Scenic Trail passes through the Osceola National Forest, is a great option for hiking. The trail passes through the forests many beautiful ecosystems, including streams. Many of the streams on the trail have bridges for crossing, but some still require a little wading during the rainy season.
Jacksonville and the nearby Osceola National Forest is a great vacation destination for all not because I live here but, because it truly is a unique place. Located in northern Florida Jacksonville has great beaches, and lots of beautiful outdoor recreation. Visitors will enjoy the white sand beaches, the hiking and other recreation in the forest and city’s acres of parks and preserves. Jacksonville has a little something for everyone.
|National Park Overview:
||Nearly two hundred thousand acres of the original Florida are waiting to be explored in the Osceola National Forest. These forested woodlands and swamps provide many opportunities for a wide range of visitor experiences such as camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and many more. Some recreational activities require a pass or permit.This “flatwoods” forest is a mosaic of low pine ridges separated by cypress and bay swamps. Visitors enjoy quiet, peaceful woodlands named in honor of the famous Seminole Indian warrior, Osceola.Created by Presidential proclamation July 10, 1931, this new “forest” had been cutover and heavily burned. A management plan was developed that focused on establishing new growth through reforestation. Fire controls were implemented to ensure the survival of the young trees. During the 1940′s a new concept, prescribed burning, was developed, and managed fires began to be used to reduce the fuels and lessen the threat of wildfire. In the 1960′s, management in the USDA Forest Service national forests was expanded from managing primarily for timber production to include managing for range, water, recreation, and wildlife, with an emphasis on the “multiple use” of forest resources. Wise stewardship has left the Osceola National Forest with an abundance of natural and cultural resources. Today the forest is managed for multiple uses on an ecological basis with the mission of “Caring for the Land and Serving People.”
||Ocean Pond CampgroundOcean Pond Campground is located on the north side of Ocean Pond, a 1760-acre natural lake. Sixty-seven campsites are available for tents, trailers, or motor homes. Many of these campsites are waterfront sites allowing guests to enjoy the water or fish right from their campsite. A beach area, boat ramp, drinking water, hot showers, and flush toilets are located in the campground. No sewer hookups are available; however, a sewage dump station is located near the campground entrance. Electrical hookups are available at 19 of the sites. Fees vary from $8.00 to $18.00 depending on campsite.Hunt Camps
Hunting is a very popular activity on the Osceola National Forest. General gun season runs from mid November to early January and during that time all camping is restricted to designated hunt camps and Ocean Pond Campground. A total of nine hunt camps are located on the forest and are open year round to the public. Two of the hunt camps have toilet and water facilities year round and toilets are provided at the remaining seven camps during the hunting season.
Primitive camping is allowed anywhere on the national forest except at Olustee Beach. However, camping is restricted to designated hunt camps and Ocean Pond Campground during hunting season. A primitive camp shelter is located along the Florida National Scenic Trail and is available on a first come first served basis.
Large families and small groups will enjoy the secluded ?Landing Group Area? which is available by reservation only. A maximum of 50 persons is allowed at this area where your group may enjoy swimming, boating, camping, picnicking, or just visiting with friends and family. Facilities include a sand beach, boat launch for small boats, picnic shelter, large group grill, and restrooms with showers. Reservation can be made by calling the Osceola Ranger District Office at (386) 752-2577. The fee is $50.00 per 24-hour period.
||Florida National Scenic TrailA 23 mile section of the Florida National Scenic Trail meanders its way through the Osceola National Forest. There are 20 boardwalks located on this section of the hiking trail that offer a drier view of swamps and wetland habitat. A primitive camp shelter is located along the Florida National Scenic Trail and is available on a first come first served basis. The trail also passes through the Olustee Battlefield. Olustee Battlefield is a state Historic Site where Confederate soldiers pushed back Union troops in route to Tallahassee. A reenactment of this historic event is held each February.Located at the Battlefield is an accessible portion of the Florida National Scenic Trail. The Nice Wander Loop Trail consists of 3 loops of 0.9 miles, 1.2 miles and 2.1 miles that are accessible with assistance. From the trailhead parking area the trail follows an old road past the fire tower and through an open picnic area of the Olustee Battlefield Museum. The trail then passes through lovely pine flatwoods to the top of the loop. Watch for the white-ringed trees indicating Red-Cockaded Woodpecker nesting sites.
Olustee Battlefield Trail
The Olustee Battlefield Trail lets you discover what life was like for soldiers who fought in the Battle of Olustee. This loop trail walks you through the events that led up to the battle, the tactics used during the battle, and the aftermath, all from personal accounts, diaries and letters from soldiers who fought in the battle.
Trampled Track Trail
A short .1-mile barrier-free historic trail is located at Olustee Beach. This trail shows the history of a sawmill and community that thrived along the shores of Ocean Pond at the turn of the century.
Mt. Carrie Trail
Visitors can stop at the Mt. Carrie Wayside and discover a new experience along the one-mile barrier free trail. This is a place where unique species such as the red-cockaded woodpecker and the gopher tortoise make their homes. One has to only search for sounds and enjoy the beauty while standing in this longleaf pine forest.
|Fishing and Hunting:
||The Osceola National Forest is a wildlife management area, in which the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission manage hunting and fishing activities. A $26.50 Wildlife Management Area Permit is required for all hunters (except those indicated as exempt) to hunt in this area. A Quota Hunt Permit may also be required during certain time periods or for certain game species. General hunting information may be found on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission?s website, or in the current Hunting Handbook available at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Office or their various subagents. For specific regulations that pertain only to the Osceola Wildlife Management.Freshwater fishing is available in the streams and ponds of the Osceola National Forest. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also regulates fishing and produces a Fishing Handbook that outlines specific rules, bag limits, licensing, and health advisories. This handbook is available at the same locations as the Hunting Handbook.Hunting and Fishing licenses and permits for residents and nonresidents are available at county tax collector?s offices and their sub-agents, such as sporting goods stores or other retailers selling hunting and fishing equipment.
1-888-HUNT-FLORIDA or 1-888-FISH-FLORIDA.
If you decide to vacation in Jacksonville stop by General RV Center and say hi. Barbara Andrews.