The Apalachicola National Forest is the largest forest in Florida, with an abundance of fresh water streams, rivers, lakes, and natural springs.
Its location right in the heart of Florida’s Nature Coast makes Citrus County a very popular retirement destination for people who enjoy outdoor activities.
In addition to being surrounded by many great state parks and preserves, there are also a number of larger parks and forests located within driving distance of the Villages of Citrus Hills. One of them is Apalachicola National Forest, which is the largest national forest in Florida.
Located just under four hours northwest of the Villages of Citrus Hills, this 632,000-acre forest contains every possible outdoor attraction you could wish for. The forest spreads across four different counties, and is big enough to keep even the most serious outdoor enthusiasts busy for years.
Since Apalachicola National Forest is so large, you may want to begin by identifying a small part of the forest to focus on. Here are some of our favorites!
Apalachee Savannas Scenic Byway
The Apalachee Savannas Scenic Byway is a great place to start if you aren’t exactly sure that you want to commit to really being an outdoors enthusiast. That’s because you can see and do everything here from the comfort of your own vehicle.
The byway consists of a 32-mile stretch of road that runs between the towns of Bristol and Sumatra. Along the way, you will be able to see beautiful scenery that includes wet flatbeds, open pine savannas, and a wonderful collection of wildflowers.
There are some really great spots along this route to pull off the road and take pictures!
Camel Lake Recreation Area
If you are looking to get outside of your vehicle but not stray too far from it, Camel Lake Recreation Area is the perfect place to spend a day relaxing outdoors.
You can go for a swim in the lake, kick back on the white sand beach, or have a nice picnic at one of the many picnic tables. As far as creature comforts are concerned, this area has a bathhouse with flush toilets and showers! There is also a 1.2-mile walking trail that circles the lake.
Silver Lake Recreation Area
If you enjoy the experience at Camel Lake, you can find a similar setup at Silver Lake Recreation Area in the Leon County portion of the forest. Here you will find another lake with a beautiful white sand beach and plenty of picnic tables.
The Silver Lake Recreation Area is known as a historic Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) constructed shelter, and the bathrooms have hot water. There is also a one-mile trail that circles the lake here.
Leon Sinks Geological Area
If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, you might want to explore the amazing sinkholes at the Leon Sinks Geological Area. Here you will find a system of boardwalks and trails that will let you view from a safe distance.
Fort Gadsden Historical Site
The best place for history buff to target is the Fort Gadsden Historical Site in Franklin County. Here you will find the remains of a historic fort.
The fort played an essential role in both the War of 1812 and the Seminole Wars. It was then rebuilt and occupied by Confederate troops during the Civil War.
Whether you are looking for a scenic drive, a day at the lake, an interesting geology lesson, or a walk through history, there is something for everyone at Apalachicola National Forest.