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Ocklawaha Prairie Restoration Area

Birding / Hiking / Adventuring Roadtrip Info

Andrew Thoreson
Jul 2017
 Typical view [?]
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Typical View (19)

Snapshots! (3)
GRADES: Click each for info, * = Note
How Big Not Rated
Importance Not Rated
Revisit? C
Birding C *
Wildlife B
Summer Heat D
Terrain C *
Fun Hike C *
Maintained C
Mosquitos D
Biting Files F
Ticks D
 LOCATION: Accuracy: Read me
Map On Big Map: Click map (or on google maps). Address: SE 137th Ave. Rd., Ocklawaha, FL, Marion, USA, 32179

1) What It's Like

There is a forested starting area leading to what's either a large lake or wet area or just grass depending on how high the water table is. When we were there it was wetlands with birds. Part I believe is almost always a lake. The trail around the lake is sort of a raised berm/levee with zero shade. There was a big boardwalk that for some reason St.John's Water Management District tore down.

2) Kinds of Birds

Forest had forest birds - warblers, cardinals, etc. Levee trail had wading birds plus random forest birds coming through. Enough to notice there was elevated bird activity. We didn't see amazing things but it was worthwhile and could imagine it being better on other trips.

3) Wildlife

Saw deer tracks and were annihilated by deer flies - so - deer.

4) Amenities

None - just a trailhead sign. And I suppose a bridge.

5) Dear Ranger

Why did you take the boardwalk down? I looked online for the most recent pictures and it looked like new very close to the date I found your notice of taking bids to remove the thing.

6) Time Requirements

You could just hike the beginning parts as much or little as you wanted and have a nice time. To reach the quasi-lake it's about a half mile so plan on a 20 minute walk out. There are 3 miles of forest trails - so that's more than an hour of potential trails. And if you did the entire levee trail it's I believe 6 miles - not for summer. So you could spend a good half day here if you wanted a scenic punishing.


We got here moving towards dusk. There was an impressively huge magnolia tree in the parking area. There are about 3 miles of trails looping around from the entrance but if you go straight to the lake it's maybe a half mile. We had a lot of problems with very tenacious deer flies and the grass was long on the trail so we were concerned about ticks though it turned out alright. You get to a bridge that's surprisingly heavy duty considering it's not used for anything. Also somewhere in the trees was a house BLASTING techno music. It felt like 1991 again. From that point on we looked for the somewhat famous boardwalk but eventually realized that patch where the grass was missing was it.

The forest part was a nice hike - and since so many deer fly I'm assuming a lot of wildlife present. It's the kind of place I expected to see deer. The leveee/lake/whatever trail portion: It's totally exposed for one thing. For another although it's a massive potential wetlands you can't really see it even with binoculars in such a way you're likely to spot the birds except some that may be nearby. We found it a bit frustrating - but I wouldn't say it wasn't worth a trip. Just not in summer!

We've had a lot of bad experienced with St.John's Water Management District trails. Just a lot of single incidents of parks closed at random (sometimes announced on website, sometimes not), bad signs leading to bad hikes, poorly maintained trails (ticks), randomly going super cheap and taking out basic stuff but spending a lot on other not basic stuff. So if I was going back I'd be sure to wear long pants for ticks and have a plan B.

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