According to the United States Dept Of Agriculture Forest Service website, The Ocala National Forest is the southernmost forest in the United States and is home to the world’s largest contiguous sand pine scrub forest. It is home to more than 600 lakes, rivers, and springs.
Also living in the forest are the black bear, raccoon, owl, deer, and much more wildlife. How do I know this? At the time of this writing, I am currently living/working in this forest. The crystal clear springs and wildlife have been amazing.
What About The Riding
Florida is relatively flat. You are not going to find mountains roads with hairpin turns here. What it does offer is some great relaxing rides with plenty of vegetation, water, and an occasional roadside oddity. We love roadside oddities. As a matter of fact, we have many of them listed right here on this site. Be sure to check them out.
When we rode around Yuma Arizona a couple of seasons ago, we rode through numerous miles of just desert. This ride is similar but instead of numerous miles of desert, you get numerous miles of forest which means trees. This was the kind of ride that would melt any kind of crappy day you were having and transform you back into a relaxed state of mind. Doesn’t all riding do that?…lol
We started this ride from the Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area on RT 19. It’s not one of our usual starting points because it lacks 2 or the 3 basic needs to start one of our rides. If you don’t know what those needs are they are food, gas, and bathrooms. This one only has bathrooms. Why did we start here then? Well, it’s where we work/live at the moment therefore it had all the essentials…lol
For anyone else who might want to do this ride, there is a Marathon gas station 10 miles north of Silver Glen Springs. The address to the Marathon Gas Station is listed below. Marathon has all three of our necessary things to start a ride.
Marathon Gas Station Address: 13535 FL-19, Crescent City, FL 32112
Time To Ride!!!
Whether you start at Silver Glen Springs or the Marathon gas station when you are ready to start you will head north on RT 19. After making the right out of the gas station you will continue to ride through the forest until you reach the town of Palatka.
A few lefts and rights and a short ride through the fairly busy town of Palatka and we found ourselves in downtown Palatka on the banks of the St Johns River. We found parking in Riverfront park which was right on the water. From here we walked along the river checking out the historic district.
Walk Out Over The St Johns River
If you walk towards the bridge you will find a walkway that leads out over the St Johns River and crosses under the bridge. There is a small memorial park along the way. There are also memorials along the riverfront walkway leading to the bridge. You can easily spend some time here walking around, checking out the town, and taking some cool photos.
On this day we just walked along the water and grabbed some photos from the dock. We had previously been here and did the walkway under the bridge.
Over The Bridge
Once we got back on the bike we headed towards Reid St (towards the bridge), made a right, and crossed the St Johns River. Once over the bridge we stayed to our right and continued on RT 17. As we came to a fork in the road we beared to the right to continue on RT 17 and follow along the St Johns River.
Once we made it past the congestion of the town of San Mateo, we started to notice more open space. There was a mix of commercial business and farmland. As we continued along the way, we alternated between small towns and open areas with a few sections of road construction.
As we continued riding down the road taking in the scenery melting away life’s problems we came upon Crescent Lake. This was a large lake on our left side. We found a small parking lot which turned out to be a small park called Fletcher Park. This seemed like a good place for a stretch. It featured a bathroom and a dock that stretches out over the water. Good for photo-ops.
Once relaxed and all stretched out we made a left out of the parking lot and continued on our way. We came into a town called Barberville where we made a right turn onto Rt 40. Once we made the right we crossed train tracks almost immediately.
Barberville Yard Art Emporium
After the tracks, there is a large lawn/garden store with some really awesome lawn statues. You might want to check that out. We decided it was getting a little late so we continued down RT 40. We passed through Astor and Astor Park. We even crossed a random draw bridge!!! Continuing down this road brought us back to RT 19 which is the road we started on. Right before we got to RT 40 on our left side was a small area with picnic tables and a boat ramp called Wildcat Lake. After making the right on Rt 19, we traveled approximately 6 miles down the road and we were back at Silver Glen Springs.
|Date Of This Ride||10/27/20|
|Points Of Interests||Downtown Palatka, St Johns River, The River Walk, Fletcher Park, Barberville Yard Art Emporium, Wildcat Lake|
Have you ever ridden any part of this ride or in the Ocala National Forest? If not would you? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.
Check Out Our Slideshow Below Featuring 47 Photos Of This Ride
***NOTE*** These Comments Were Copy & Pasted Over From Our Original Site
4 thoughts on “The Ocala National Forest Loop”
- Nuttanee| EditThanks for sharing about The Ocala National Forest. Oh wow, I bet you cannot have better view than that, waking up in the morning must be priceless. However, I am afraid of the black bear though, other animals are ok with me. Fletcher park sure looks like a perfect spot to stretch indeed! What time of the year do you suggest is best for taking a ride?Reply
- Dennis| EditNuttanee- You are right. The view in the morning is priceless!!! Other than running randomly across the street presenting a big road hazard, the black bear would rather not interact with humans. They just like to eat…lol. Usually, if you encounter one and make a noise they will run away. Fletcher Park was a great find and yes a great place to stretch. The best time of year for this ride would be late fall/winter or early spring. Late spring and summer are brutally hot and wet in this area… DennisReply
- Collinsss| EditI have always been a fan of motto from racing to touring and that is why I found this article very interesting. I know anyone who loves to ride would enjoy this type of ride also. I really enjoyed reading this article and if I ever find myself in this area I will definitely have to ride it.Reply