Located in the swampy woodlands of northern Florida, Osceola National Forest is a natural getaway right next to I-10. There are dozens of miles of hiking trails that lead you through the pine groves. Most of the forest is open to hunting as well, with a number of small game species including fox, opossum, and bobcat.
There is also plenty to do out on the water whenever you visit Osceola National Forest in your campervan or trailer. Ocean Pond is the most popular fishing spot in the forest, with a wide range of species including catfish, bluegill, crappie, and warmouth. You can also cane pole fish from a number of streams in the forest. Ocean Pond is a great location for boating as well, with a launch located just outside of the RV campground.
The main RV campground in the forest is located on the shores of Ocean Pond. The developed campground has modern amenities and some of the best water activities in northern Florida. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also dispersed camp throughout most of the forest. Just be prepared, as you’ll have little access to water or other basic services.
Located in northern Florida, Osceola National Forest can be reached quickly from a number of major cities in the state, including Tallahassee and Jacksonville. The forest is a mix of pine groves and swampland, and flooding can occasionally be an issue.
If you are driving from Tallahassee, take I-10 east out of the city and you’ll arrive at the forest in around two hours. From Jacksonville, take I-10, this time west, and you’ll get to the forest in under and hour.
The main RV campground is located at Ocean Pond. The campground is just a few minutes off US-90, with well developed roads that are easy to navigate by RV. There may be occasional flooding in the area, so drive with caution after a heavy rain storm. Dispersed camping is allowed throughout the forest, although you may have to take muddy dirt roads to reach remote areas.
This campground, located near Ocean Pond, is a group site that can host up to 50 people. It has a private beach, as well as a large fire ring, picnic tables, BBQ grill, and pavilion. Electrical and water hookups are available. RVs up to 40 feet long are permitted. Whether you are planning a family getaway or an RV road trip with friends, this is a great group camping area with access to a private beach and boat launch.
This popular RV campground has 67 sites to choose from. Nineteen of the sites feature electrical and water hookups, 27 have water-only hookups, and the remaining 20 sites are primitive. Each site has a lantern post, fire pit, and picnic table. Modern restrooms with hot showers are centrally located.
The main attraction at the campground is Ocean Pond. It has excellent fishing, with bluegill, crappie, and catfish. There is a swim beach right next to the campground, as well as a boat ramp and fishing pier. The Florida Birding Trail and the Florida National Scenic Trail also cut through the campground, giving you miles of hiking and wildlife viewing.
All of the sites in the campground are first-come, first-served. Ocean Pond is quite popular, and sites fill up quickly, so try to arrive early to save a spot. Rigs up to 50 feet can be accommodated.
You can also enjoy dispersed camping throughout much of the forest. It’s a great way to get a little more privacy and space to yourself. However, beginner campers should be careful. The forest is quite swampy in certain areas, and much of it is remote, with little access to drinking water or basic services. Bugs can also be a significant issue if you visit during the summer. Ask forest staff for details before heading out.
There are dozens of miles of hiking trails leading through the swamp forests of longleaf and slash pine trees. There are interpretive trails in the area that teach you more about the logging industry’s role in decimating the forest, and how conservationists have restored it in recent years.
Hiking is best during the spring or fall, when temperatures are mild. The forest gets quite hot and humid during the summer, and insects can be a problem while hiking. If you hike during the summer, start early in the day and bring plenty of bug spray.
The forest is also a great area for cycling, so make sure you pack your bike in your rig. Although you won’t find many mountain biking trails, most of the roads in the forest are open to road cycling. You can enjoy views of the longleaf pine forests and the wildlife in the forest as you ride.
Most of the roads are accessible for beginners, as there are few steep climbs. Cycling is best in spring and fall, when the climate is mild. As you ride, look out for fallen trees and branches.
Ocean Pond is a great location for boating, with a launch right outside of the RV campground. You can bring a motorized boat with you, or kayak along the shaded shoreline to enjoy the cool water of the lake. Most of the RV sites at Ocean Pond are large enough for you to keep your boat right on the site. You can also find a number of streams in the area that are great for relaxed kayak or canoe rides.
Fishing is one of the most popular activities in the forest, with a wide range of angling opportunities. Ocean Pond is the most popular fishing spot in the forest, and it’s situated next to the largest RV campground in the area. You’ll be able to catch bluegill, largemouth catfish, crappie, and warmouth. There is a boat ramp near the campground, as well as a fishing pier. There are also many small creeks that are excellent for cane pole fishing.
Hunting is allowed in most of the forest, with a number of small game species including fox, raccoon, bobcat, and opossum. There are designated hunting camps as well that give you access to some of the best hunting grounds in the forest.
General gun season is from November to January, during which you are only allowed to camp at designated hunting campgrounds, as well as at Ocean Pond Campground. You’ll need specific hunting licenses for any game you hunt in the forest.
Located directly on the Florida Birding Trail, Osceola National Forest is a popular destination for birdwatching. You’ll be able to spot a wide range of different bird species in the forest, including eastern bluebirds, red-cockaded woodpeckers, and pine warblers. You’ll also see large numbers of winter ducks and snowy egrets near Ocean Pond. The area is also known for its migrating songbirds, which pass through in spring and fall, especially in the northern sections of the forest.