Ocala National Forest is located in central Florida north of Orlando. It is the southernmost national forest in the continental United States and the second largest in Florida. It was established in 1908 and is the oldest national forest east of the Mississippi River. Ocala protects the largest contiguous sand pine forest in the world and has over 600 lakes, rivers and springs.
There are plenty of opportunities for families to hike within Ocala. Hikes range in distance from short walks on a nature trail to extensive hikes along a portion of the Florida National Scenic Trail. Families can camp in Ocala at one of the dozens of campgrounds throughout the forest. Larger groups can stay at one of the group cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
Wildlife is plentiful within Ocala National Forest. Notable mammals include the Coyote, Gray Fox, Red Fox, North American River Otter, Bobcat and Florida Black Bear, a subspecies of the American Black Bear. Ocala is also home to reptiles, like American Alligators and Gopher Tortoise. Four species of venomous snakes live within Ocala: the cottonmouth, eastern diamondback rattlesnake, dusky pygmy rattlesnake and the eastern coral snake.