Length: 50.7 miles (linear) from SR 40 to SR 20
The northern part of the Ocala National Forest nurtures upland habitats of rolling sandhills topped with longleaf pines and oaks. Wiregrass thrives, carpeting the forest floor in a misty haze that turns to lilac in winter. These forests are relatively open, an important habitat for wildlife like deer, fox squirrels, and red-cockaded woodpeckers. There are also extensive stands of shortleaf or sand pine along the trail. Look for scrub jays in this habitat. Wildlife common to both habitats are eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, indigo snakes, corn snakes, armadillos, raccoon, deer, gopher tortoises, and black bears. Observe, enjoy, and respect all wildlife, leaving them as you found them.
Surface water is found only in scattered flatwoods ponds. As you approach Rodman Reservoir and the Ocklawaha River floodplain, the trail passes through floodplain forests, and may be knee-deep in water if the rivers are high. The footpath is well maintained and well worn, and signage at road crossings helps you figure out exactly where you are. Although there are a number of designated campsites along this segment, you may camp anywhere you wish—as long as it’s not hunting season. Be aware of when hunting seasons occur, and make sure you wear blaze orange.
At the extreme northern end the trail reaches Rodman Reservoir and follows the Cross Florida Greenway through Rodman Campground along the banks of the Cross Florida Barge Canal. Look for manatees swimming in the canal! This section of trail is maintained by the Black Bear Chapter.