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 Local Parks, Trails & Forests

Florida is the perfect place to spend time getting back to nature and having fun in the sun. Offering 81 distinct biological communities and 4,200 unique species of plants, our state features some of the most beautiful and unspoiled nature in the United States. North Central Florida—and specifically the Ocala/Marion County area—offers a variety of outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy. From hiking to boating, zip-lining, and everything in between, our community can help you stay as connected to nature as you’d like.

Browse the categorized listings below for inspiration to plan your next outdoor adventure.

Recreational Parks

Ocala has some stellar parks offering an array of activities for the entire family. Stay healthy and fit while enjoying amenities such as tree-lined paved walking/jogging trails, sports facilities, playgrounds, and more. Covered pavilions and picnic areas allow picnicking in the shade and out of Florida’s summer showers.  

Tuscawilla Park

 829 NE Sanchez Ave, Ocala, FL 34470

352.629.8358

This 34.3 acre park close to downtown Ocala offers playgrounds, a 3/5-mile concrete walking trail surrounding Lake Tuscawilla, six lighted tennis courts, two lighted outdoor basketball courts, and a raquet ball court. There is also a baseball field, shuffleboard, picnic tables and pavilions, and restroom facilities.

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Clyatt Park

 1401 SE 17th St, Ocala, FL 34471

352.368.5517

Clyatt Park offers 10.97 acres of outdoor entertainment, offering sporting amenities such as a baseball field, basketball courts, a racquetball court, and a tennis court. In addition, the park offers exercise equipment, a playground for the kids, picnic area with water fountain and restrooms.  

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Brick City Adventure Park

  1211 SE 22nd Road, Ocala, FL 34471

352.671.8560

Brick City Adventure Park is unique because, unlike most other local parks, they offer guided adventures, including access to White Cliff Cave, a low-ropes course and interpretive hikes through the quarry. In addition, the park also features a football field with track, a playground, and a multi-purpose field with lighting.

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Ernie Mills Park

 11899 Bostick Street, Dunnellon, FL, 34432

352.465.8590

One of Dunnellon’s most spacious parks, Ernie Mills Park offers a covered staging area making it very popular for the city sponsored Movies in the Park. The park also offers a playground, picnic areas with BBQ grills, basketball courts, and a jogging track.  

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Toms

2245 N Magnolia Avenue, Ocala, FL, 34475

 

A peaceful oasis in the City of Ocala, Toms Park offers shady, tree-lined walking paths and amenities such as a fishing pond with monofilament line disposal receptacles, picnic pavilions with grills, playground equipment, basketball court, and exercise equipment.   

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Jervey Gantt Recreational Complex

2200 SE 36th Ave, Ocala, FL 34470

352.368.5517

Located on the southeast side of the city, Jervey Gantt is a large 63-acre community park.  Park amenities include recreational facilities for various team sports, an aquatic fun center,  jogging trails, a 2-mile health fitness course, pavilions for picnicking, and playgrounds. 

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Ocala Regional Sportsplex

3500 SW 67th Ave, Ocala, FL 34474

352.368.5517

An 80-acre active community park on the west side of town, The Ocala Regional Sports Complex offers a variety of fields for softball, baseball, football, volleyball and a remote-control racecar track. Additionally, park guests can enjoy use of several picnic pavilions for social gatherings, benches and tables throughout the park, concrete sidewalks and trails that are handicapped accessible, water fountains, trash receptacles and pedestrian scale lighting for safety. 

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Coehadjoe Park

4225 NE 35th Street, Ocala, FL, 34479

352.671.8560

Perfect for families with young children, Coehadjoe Park features a Born Learning Trail (courtesy of Success by 6), a nature-themed play area, and walking trails. The park also features amenities such as a tennis court (also lined for pickleball), basketball courts, racquetball courts, volleyball courts, and picnic pavilions.  

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Scott Springs

2825 SW 24th Avenue, Ocala, FL, 34474

352.368.5517

Scott Springs is a natural wildlife haven right in the middle of one of the busiest commercial areas in the city of Ocala. The wooded recreational area offers caves, a bike terrain park, walking paths, and a contemporary playground. 

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Ritterhoff Park

1805 SE 14th Avenue, Ocala, FL, 34471

Ritterhoff Park offers catch and release fishing with monofilament line disposal, a playground geared toward toddlers and pre-K children, and a large picnic pavilion with grill, perfect for birthday picnics.  

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Botanical Gardens

A serene and educational way to spend a day, Central Florida is home to some stunning Botanical Gardens. Spend a day immersed in the natural beauty on display in these cultivated exhibits and learn about several species of flora. Be sure to check the upcoming events at each garden, as new exhibits and events will be appearing for a limited time. Whether you’re on a guided tour or exploring the displays on your own, botanical gardens are sure to delight the whole family.

Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens

4990 NE 180th Ave. Williston, FL 32696

352.529.0055

Enjoy the breathtaking views of cascading waterfalls, numerous garden displays, koi ponds, and more.

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Sholom Park

7110 SW 80th Ave, Ocala, FL 34481

352.873.0848

A peaceful oasis in North Central Florida, Sholom Park features native plants as well as cultivated ornamentals, perennials, and annuals. The park is open daily all year round with free admission. 

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State and National Parks

 North Central Florida possesses some of the most beautiful state and national parks in the entire state. Our forests offer the opportunity to connect with nature and view wildlife in its natural habitat. Birdwatchers will revel in the many species that live year-round or seasonally, and wildlife watchers will have a very good chance of spotting creatures such as deer, otters, foxes, manatees, and possibly even a bear!  

Ocala National Forest

352.625.2520

The Ocala National Forest is the southernmost forest in the continental United States. It has more than 600 lakes, rivers, and springs, where visitors can swim, snorkel, and dive in crystalline waters year-round. The forest also offers numerous hiking and biking trails, as well as dispersed camping, and options for trail riders, hunters, and fishing.

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Goethe State Forest

352.566.5225

9110 SE Co Rd 337, Dunnellon, FL 34431

A haven of old-growth cypress and longleaf pine, Goethe State Forest is a tranquil nature-lover’s escape. Wildlife lovers in particular love Goethe for its concentration of rare animals like the Florida black bear, gopher frog, striped newt, and bald eagle. Goethe’s trail system offers seven different trailheads for hikers, bikers, and riders, and campers can enjoy the park’s primitive camp sites. Hunting and fishing are also available within the forest.

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Withlacoochee State Forest

352.797.4140

15003 N Broad St, Brooksville, FL 34601

Withlacoochee State Forest is a haven for the outdoor enthusiast. Activities include many miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and canoeing. Seasonal hunting is also available in most of the forest, and fishing as well on Withlacoochee’s many waterways and lakes. There are several campgrounds available and feature developed and primitive campsites.

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Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

352.628.2311

9350 W Fishbowl Dr, Homosassa, FL 34448

Visit the Underwater Observatory to watch fish and manatees swim in the natural spring bowl. There is also a Nature Trail and boat tours.

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Rainbow Springs State Park

352.465.8555

19158 SW 81st Place Rd, Dunnellon FL 34432

Offering gardens, waterfalls, and natural springs, Rainbow Springs State Park is one of the most popular outdoor spots in the region. Guests of the park can canoe, kayak, or tube down the beautiful Rainbow River, and can cool off with a relaxing swim in the main headsprings. Don’t miss the park’s mesmerizing waterfalls, a rare experience in the state of Florida.

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Silver Springs State Park

352.261.5840

5656 E Silver Springs Blvd, Silver Springs, FL 34488

Florida’s oldest attraction dating back to the 1870’s, Silver Springs is world-renowned for its crystal blue springs and iconic Glass Bottom boats. The 4,000-acre state park also includes the entire 5-mile Silver River and surrounding sandhill forest. Activities include canoeing, hiking, and camping in addition to beautiful gardens. 

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Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

352.592.5656 

6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606

See the world-famous mermaid show, take a riverboat cruise, or visit Buccaneer Bay Waterpark where you can slide right into Weeki Wachee Springs.

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Fort King National Landmark

352.368.5533

3925 E. Fort King Street, Ocala, FL 34470

This unique park offers visitors the opportunity to explore the reconstructed Fort King and learn about its historical significance. The park includes a Heritage Teaching Garden, an interpretive trail that descends from the top of the hill (the fort) to the Seep Spring and down through a ravine that includes many different plant species. Other amenities include a visitor center, cell phone tour, picnic areas, and restrooms.  

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Hiking and Biking

Beneficial to both the mind and body, hiking is the perfect way to experience some of Florida’s most breath-taking sights. Ocala itself is home to over 200 miles of trails, perfect for biking, hiking, and more. Whether you’re a day hiker or a backpacker, visit Ocala and surrounding Marion County to try a variety of trails that can keep you active and exploring. Just be sure to stay well-equipped and hydrated: summer temperatures can often rise to 85 degrees or higher.
The Florida Greenway

352.236.7143

8282 SE Hwy 314, Ocala, FL 34470

Crossing Central Florida from the Gulf of Mexico to the St. Johns River is the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway. Over time, this corridor was transformed from one of the nation’s largest uncompleted public works projects to a world-class greenway with hiking, biking, equestrian, and paddling trails, along with boat ramps, fishing spots, campgrounds, a barrier-free Boundless Playground® and picnic shelters. A lush escape in the middle of bustling Ocala, the Greenway is an excellent weekend or even daily getaway.

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The Santos Trailhead and Campground

352.369.2693

3080 SE 80th St, Ocala, FL 34480

Internationally known for its intense mountain biking, the Santos Trailhead offers over 80 miles of single-track bike trails, access to the Cross Florida Greenway’s extensive riding trail network, and hiking along the congressionally-designated Florida National Scenic Trail. It also features a campground with 23 full hookups. Santos hosts the Ocala Mountain Bike Association’s Fat Tire Festival every year during the first weekend in March.

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Bear-N-Oak Trail

352.732-1201

 

7728, 8126 NE 58th Ave, Silver Springs, FL 34488

Located in Indian Lake State Forest, this looped 1.6 mile trail provides scenic views and a first-hand look at the diverse habits of Central Florida.

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Johnson Pond Trail

3033 E Withlacoochee Trail, Dunnellon, FL 34434

Part of Withlacoochee State Park near Citrus Springs, this 2.7 mile trail loops through rosemary scrub.

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Holly Hammock Hiking Trail

10660 SW State Rd 200, Dunnellon, FL 34432

Scenic panoramas on this shady 2.4 mile loop show of the diverse habitats within Ross Prairie State Forest.

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Horse Trails

The Florida city of Ocala is called a Horse Capital of the World and Horse Country for plenty of reasons. For one thing, Ocala has a perfect climate for year-round training, raising, and breeding horses. There are also numerous horse operations in the area and several active competitions. Thus, it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of opportunities to explore Central Florida on horseback. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert rider, there’s a trail out there perfect for what you’re looking for.
Pruitt Trailhead

South of State Road 484, Near Dunnellon in Marion County

Equestrians love this Marion County trail near Dunnellon because it offers access to some of Florida’s best riding trails. There is also a corral and a hand pitcher pump where you can get water for your horse.

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Landbridge Trailhead

352.236.7143

Accessible off of I-75 from the County Road 484 exit

Providing access to the I-75 Landbridge, this trailhead features equine, hiking, and natural surface bike trails.

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Ross Prairie Trailhead

10660 SW Hwy 200, Dunnellon, FL 34431

With adjacent sandhill and wetland prairie systems, this trailhead is home to a diverse set of species. There is also an equestrian staging area.

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Fishing and Boating

Central Florida has no shortage of quality fishing spots, perfect for relaxing in peace. While a valid Florida fishing license is required in order to fish, there are several options for both visitors and residents. For more information on fishing licenses, click here. And if freshwater fishing isn’t exactly your speed, the good news is that Central Florida is less than a two-hour drive from either Florida coast, for those who enjoy the saltwater. Scalloping is also popular, and the season runs from June through September. Or, if you just want to enjoy the water and take in the sea life, the coast is a great place to experience swimming with the manatees!
Crystal River

915 N Suncoast Blvd Crystal River, FL 34429

Warm Gulf waters, spring-fed rivers, gentle manatees, fantastic fishing and bountiful lakes.

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Lake Waldena Resort

352.625.2851

13582 E. Highway 40, Lot 300 Silver Springs, FL 34488

Located in the Ocala National Forest, you can enjoy fishing, boating, swimming, and more at beautiful Lake Waldena in Silver Springs.

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Silver Glen Springs

352.625.2520

5301 North Highway 19 Ft. McCoy, FL 32134

Both an important archeological site and a popular recreation area, the protected spring bowl offers swimming, snorkeling, kayaking/canoeing, fishing, wildlife viewing, and hiking.

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Lake Wauburg

352.294.7090
13582 E. Highway 40, Lot 300 Silver Springs, FL 34488

Open to UF students, faculty, and staff and their guests, Lake Wauburg offers boating, swimming, volleyball, climbing, and more.

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Carney Island Recreation and Conservation Area

352.671.8560

13275 SE 115th Avenue, Ocklawaha, FL 32179

Located between the shores of Lake Weir and Little Lake Weir, Carney Island Recreation and Conservation Area offers access to some of the best freshwater fishing and boating in Marion county. In addition the park also offers pavillions, picnic facilities, playground, bathrooms, hiking, swimming, and more!

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Natural Springs

Something every Floridian knows is that Florida gets hot. At the height of summer, even swimming pools can begin to feel like bath water. Luckily, Central Florida is home to a bevy of natural springs that are crystal-clear and roughly 72 degrees all year long. Besides being a perfect way to cool down during the warmest time of year, these springs also allow for some of the most stunning views in the area. Just be sure to apply sunscreen regularly!
Silver Springs State Park

352.261.5840

5656 E Silver Springs Blvd, Silver Springs, FL 34488

Florida’s oldest attraction dating back to the 1870’s, Silver Springs is world-renowned for its crystal blue springs and iconic Glass Bottom boats. The 4,000-acre state park also includes the entire 5-mile Silver River and surrounding sandhill forest. Activities include canoeing, hiking, and camping in addition to beautiful gardens. 

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Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

352.592.5656 

6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606

See the world-famous mermaid show, take a riverboat cruise, or visit Buccaneer Bay Waterpark where you can slide right into Weeki Wachee Springs.

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Rainbow Springs State Park

352.465.8555

19158 SW 81st Pl Rd, Dunnellon, FL 34432

Offering gardens, waterfalls, and natural springs, Rainbow Springs State Park is one of the most popular outdoor spots in the region. Guests of the park can canoe, kayak, or tube down the beautiful Rainbow River, and can cool off with a relaxing swim in the main headsprings. Don’t miss the park’s mesmerizing waterfalls, a rare experience in the state of Florida.

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Salt Springs Recreation Area

352.685.2048

13851 FL-19, Fort McCoy, FL 32134

Unlike most springs, Salt Springs is unique because the water has a slight salinity due to potassium and magnesium salts within the water. Snorkle amongst blue crabs and fish in the crystal clear swimming area. In addition to swimming in the beautiful first magnitude springs, the park offers camping, hiking, boating, and picnicking. 

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Silver Glen Springs

352.625.2520

5301 North Highway 19 Ft. McCoy, FL 32134

Both an important archeological site and a popular recreation area, the protected spring bowl offers swimming, snorkeling, kayaking/canoeing, fishing, wildlife viewing, and hiking.

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Juniper Springs Recreation Area

352.625.3147

26701 FL-40, Silver Springs, FL 34488

One of the oldest and best known recreation areas on the East Coast, Juniper Springs is located between Ocala and Ormond Beach along SR 40.  The setting is unique to any other found in the United Sates, with hundreds of miniscule bubbling springs spouting out of crevices in the earth underneath a canopy of ancient oaks. The park also features hiking trails, campground, and picnic facilities. 

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Zip Lining

If you’re looking to get a new perspective and a pulse-pounding adventure, zip-lining may be the activity for you. Get a birds-eye-view of gorgeous cliffs, massive canyons, pristine lakes, and much more while enjoying 9 different zip lines, 2 rope bridges, and a rappel. If you’re not up for all nine zip-lines, don’t worry! There are a variety of packages to maximize the enjoyment of your adventure.
Canyons Zip Line & Canopy Tours

352.351.9477

8045 NW Gainesville Rd. Ocala, FL

Enjoy long zip lines from the tallest heights. Horseback riding through the park is also an option.

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Farm Tours

Tour the horse farms that contribute to Ocala’s status as an equestrian destination. Enjoy a behind-the-scenes peek at a working farm while meeting the horses and learning how to care for them. Farm tours are fun for the entire family!
Farm Tours of Ocala

352.895.9302

801 SW 60th Ave. Ocala, FL 32668

This 3-hour tour takes you to Ocala’s working horse farms, including one of the world’s four major thoroughbred centers.

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Hennessy Arabians

313.407.2070

12780 NW 35th St. Ocala, FL 34482

Nicknamed “HennesseyLand,” this working horse farm is open to any visitors who want to browse the stables and meet the Arabians in person.

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The Ocala National Forest is the southernmost forest in the continental United States. It has more than 600 lakes, rivers, and springs, where visitors can swim, snorkel, and dive in crystalline waters year-round. The forest also offers numerous hiking and biking trails, as well as dispersed camping, and options for trail riders, hunters, and fishing.

Hunting

Marion County’s expansive natural spaces also provide ample opportunities for individuals to explore Florida’s natural forests and practice their shooting skills. Deer, turkey, and rabbit are plentiful, and wild hogs can be hunted year-round here in Florida. Florida Residents and visitors will need a Florida Hunting License. For more information on hunting licensing, click here.
Ocala National Forest

The Ocala National Forest is the southernmost forest in the continental United States. It has more than 600 lakes, rivers, and springs, where visitors can swim, snorkel, and dive in crystalline waters year-round. The forest also offers numerous hiking and biking trails, as well as dispersed camping, and options for trail riders, hunters, and fishing.

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Goethe State Forest

A haven of old-growth cypress and longleaf pine, Goethe State Forest is a tranquil nature-lover’s escape. Wildlife lovers in particular love Goethe for its concentration of rare animals like the Florida black bear, gopher frog, striped newt, and bald eagle. Goethe’s trail system offers seven different trailheads for hikers, bikers, and riders, and campers can enjoy the park’s primitive camp sites. Hunting and fishing are also available within the forest.

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Withlacoochee State Forest

Withlacoochee State Forest is a haven for the outdoor enthusiast. Activities include many miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and canoeing. Seasonal hunting is also available in most of the forest, and fishing as well on Withlacoochee’s many waterways and lakes. There are several campgrounds available and feature developed and primitive campsites.

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