Osceola National Forest
Our family visited Osceola National Forest in Northern Florida as a stop in our month-long Florida bike trip. We spent a week at the National Forest, camping and enjoying the time together as a family.
Osceola is just east of Lake City, Florida, a city with about everything you may need. We loaded up on supplies (food, diapers, water) in Lake City and biked about 17 miles east to Ocean Pond Campground in Osceola National Forest. It is a beautiful forest, well-maintained with periodic burnings to clear underbrush, cleared trails, and primitive and non-primitive campsites.
There was a primitive campsite that only charged $2 per day, but we went to the Ocean Pond campground, and paid for a tent site for $8 a day. There was water available nearby, 2 bathhouses, one with showers and laundry, and a playground and beach. There were RV and trailer sites as well, but the tent area was separate a bit, fully wooded, and nice big private areas for tenting. Many people there were camping for a longer-term as you are able to tent for a total of 1 month at a time in the National Forest.
We were able to gather our own dead-fall from the forest for campfires and could fish in the lake. Both Tristan and I came down with bad colds, so it was really good to rest and recover.
A fun story.... Just as it was getting dark on Friday night, someone pulled in and asked us if we would mind sharing a campsite with him for the night, as all the other sites were full. He had seen our bikes and assumed we were on a bike trip and he was too! John was his name and he had just begun cycling from St. Augustine, Florida. We agreed of course and had a great chat that night and in the morning with him about his travels as well. He was a seasoned cyclist, having completed a cross-America tour previously. It was so fun to meet him and we wish him all the best! A wonderful lady, Rose, dropped John off at the campsite as he needed a place to stay for the night, and we learned about a program called Warm Showers, connecting cyclists to volunteers who share their homes, showers and meals with them. Thank you Rose for your kindness and generous spirit!
We spent a lot of time just enjoying our family, playing, walking on trails, having campfires, waiting out thunderstorms, teaching the girls how to play Dutch Blitz, making rocket stoves, visiting with other long-term camping families, making nature crafts and searching for the Red Cockaded Woodpecker. We had a really fun, relaxing time at the National Forest and was one of the highlights of our trip!