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Top 5 Spots to Get Outside Near Gainesville

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The forests in Florida are unlike any other in the country. Home to awesome scenery, endless hiking trails, and rare wildlife, these forests are an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. Invite some friends along, or tackle the trails solo for some soul-searching. Either way, StorQuest encourages you to experience some of Mother Nature’s best work right outside of sunny Gainesville, FL. 

1. Osceola National Forest

This gem is about 40 miles north of Gainesville and boasts plenty of opportunities for adventure across some truly epic landscapes. The Osceola National Forest is named in honor of the Seminole warrior Osceola and carries a ton of history within its Cyprus tree-lined border. Explore deep into the woods and see one of Florida’s largest battlefields, where the Battle of Olustee took place during the Civil War. If you’d rather work on your water skiing skills, head to Ocean Pond Campground, where you can enjoy lakeshore camping, fishing, and an awesome afternoon on the lake.

2. Ocala National Forest

Located 57 miles southeast of Gainesville, the Ocala National Forest is one of the most entrancing forests in Florida. With its warm weather year-round, Ocala invites hikers to camp and embrace something bigger than yourself. If you enjoy swimming in crystal-clear springs, hiking through the deep Cyprus trees, blazing mountain bike trails, or camping under the stars, we suggest you get over to Ocala as soon as possible.

3. Etoniah Creek State Forest

Thirty miles from sunny Gainesville sits Etoniah Creek State Forest. Choose from three awesome hiking trails that include George Lake’s Trail, Lake Blossom Trail, and Longleaf Pine Trail. Keep an eye out for great horned owls, gopher tortoises, wild turkey, and the occasional bobcat as you trek through sandhills and sinkholes. Backpackers and day hikers will love the endless amount of landscape to explore, while campers will enjoy laughter with loved ones, throwing a hot dog on a stick over the fire, and scary camp stories to cap off your new memories at Etoniah Creek State Park.

4. Tiger Bay State Forest

Believe us when we say Tiger Bay State Forest is well worth the two-hour drive from Gainesville. Named after its largest geographical feature, Tiger Bay, this massive wetland is surrounded by two lakes and several ponds. Test your luck and throw some lures in at Rattlesnake Pond, or jump on a horse and cruise through the miles of thick, picturesque forest. With only one formal hiking trail, Tiger Bay State Forest is the perfect place to get lost and experience an adventure away from the city lights. 

5. Seminole State Forest

Seminole State Forest, about 100 miles from Gainesville, is home to one of the older sections of the Florida Trail. Start your journey through rugged hills and swamp forests full of wildlife such as alligators and the endangered Florida black bear. Grab your kayak out of storage, throw it in the water, and embark on an unbelievable 8-mile paddle down Blackwater Creek to the Wekiva River. Finish your day setting up a tent, enjoying the peace and quiet, and crashing under the star-lit sky. 

Stress Less with StorQuest

At StorQuest Self Storage, we encourage you to get outside, try new things, and continue to live big. While you’re out exploring Florida’s great forests, you can count on StorQuest to have your things ready to go when your next adventure calls. Contact us today to make room for awesome in your life.

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