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Osceola National Forest - Camping
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.
Ocean Pond Campground
Ocean 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.
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.
Group campingLarge 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 Trail
A 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.
Swimming & Picnicking
Olustee Beach - Olustee Beach is located on the south side of Ocean Pond and provides visitors the opportunity to fish, swim, boat and picnic along the scenic shores of Ocean Pond. A white sandy beach, showers, flush toilets, drinking water, boat ramp, picnic tables, a covered shelter and grills are available for day use.
There is a two-dollar per vehicle charge. Annual passes are available at the Osceola National Forest Ranger District office.