OSCEOLA NATIONAL FOREST
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 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.
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.