A string of pearls stretching from the Ocala National Forest to the Suwannee River, the Florida Trail through North Florida exists in bits and pieces open to the public while we work to obtain trail corridor to create an unbroken footpath. The gems of this segment include Rice Creek Conservation Area, where haunting ancient cypresses tower above the remains of a 1700s indigo and rice plantation; Etoniah Creek State Forest, where the trail follows the rim of one the deepest ravines in the region; Gold Head Branch State Park, with fern-filled ravines and the eerie Devil’s Washbasin; and the sandhills and pristine lakeshores of Camp Blanding.
At the north end of this section, day hikers will appreciate the short Nice Wander loop at the Olustee Battlefield Trailhead, a natural surface portion of the Florida Trail that is accessible to wheelchairs with assistance. It circles a red-cockaded woodpecker colony, best visited in the morning. Backpackers can choose from numerous campsites and trailheads through the Osceola National Forest, a land of dense pine forests, cypress swamps, and bayheads and picturesque Ocean Pond, a must for sunset seekers.