Ocala National Forest - Farles Prairie

Location

Located within Ocala National Forest near the the southeast corner of Marion County, Florida.  Nearest towns are Astor (10 mi), Umatilla (12 mi) and Salt Spring (16 mi).

Directions

To Buck Lake and Farles Lake Campground:  From SR 40 turn south onto SR 19 and drive for about 6 miles. Turn right onto FR595 and follow dirt road for about 2.5 miles. The entrance to Buck Lake will be on your left. If you continue down FR595 for another 1.4 miles, you'll reach Farles Lake Campground.

To Florida National Scenic Trail Parking:   From SR 40 turn south onto SR 19 and follow highway for about 7 miles. Trailhead parking will be on your right.

Hiking

The best way to explore Farles Prairie is to hike a section of  Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST) that starts along SR 19 and ends at SR 40. The distance is about 13 miles but you can shorten it considerably by parking at a number of cross roads. From SR 19 the FNST heads northwest through mostly tall sand pines and scrubby habitat. Here you might spot some sinkholes fairly close to the trail. The one pictured below was about 4ft wide and about 6 ft deep -- just a baby compared to the giant one over by Lake Eaton. Nonetheless it's something to look out for if you decide to wonder off trail to take care of some urgent business.

Kiosk Old Pine Sink Hole

The trail then crosses FR550 before arriving at two small ponds: Summit Pond and Dora's Pond. A nice primitive campsite with log benches and a fire ring sits back a ways from Summit Pond. Dora's Pond was evidently named after Dora K. Elliott. A memorial for her can be found on one of the trees next the pond.  

Campsite Dora's Pond

Just around the corner about a half mile down the trail is the beautiful Buck Lake. A group campsite for reservations-only overlooks the lake from the north end. A 1.5 mile long side trail (blazed blue) loops around the entire length of the lake and rejoins with the FNST.

Buck Lake Buck Lake

At about 4.5 miles from SR 19 the trail passes within a short distance of Farles Prairie Recreational Area. A blue-blazed side trail will take you to the campground. Here you can fill up on water and there's a restroom nearby. Camping is only allowed during certain times of the year usually between January and April.

Farles Lake

The trail then crosses FR 595 heading north through Farles Prairie. The region is dotted with lots of shallow lakes and great places to camp underneath the oak trees. This is probably the most scenic section of the trail. During the winter months the red-berried dahoon hollies add a nice Christmas ascent to the area.

Farles Prairie Christmas Tree in Florida

Within a 1000 feet of SR 40, the trail crosses the only boardwalk in this section. A nice campsite near the end of the boardwalk offers a final resting stop before leaving the Farles Priarie area.

Board Walk Fire Ring

Note the distances on the trail sign near SR 40 are a little bit inaccurate. Probably because the trail has been rerouted over the years. Looks like they could use a new sign anyways. Bears must be using it as a back rub.

Trail Sign

Hunting

Hunting Schedule 2009 - 2010
Archery Sep. 26 - Oct. 25
Muzzle Gun Oct. 30 - Nov. 1
General Gun Nov. 12 - Jan. 10
Fox, Bobcat, Raccoon Nov. 14 - Apr. 18
Small Game Jan. 11 - Mar. 7
Spring Turkey Mar. 25 - 28, Apr. 1 -4, 8 - 11, 15 - 18

Maps

Color Infrared Aerial Map

Topo Map Topo Map

GPS Data

File Formats Downloads
TopoGraphix ExpertGPS trails.gpx
Garmin MapSource trails.mps
Google Earth trails.kmz
National Geographic TOPO! trails.tpo

Flowers and Fungi

Yellow Mushroom Shelf Mushrooms Pink Ears

Carnivorous Plant Red Berries 

Local Weather

Click for Ocala, Florida Forecast

Trail Reports

Additional Information

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Last updated on 23-Oct-2009 at 2:02 P.M.