Columbia County offers more than just water sports for nature enthusiasts. Approximately half of the 200,000-acre Osceola National Forest, known for its cypress swamps and pinelands, is located here. The county also features portions of the 1,300-mile Florida National Scenic Trail, which winds along the historic Suwannee River and through picturesque woodlands. Additionally, nine state parks, rich in natural and historical significance, are scattered throughout the county and surrounding areas.

Alligator Lake Park

Voted one of the best parks in Columbia County, Alligator Lake Park boasts historic wetlands and a variety of recreational opportunities, with numerous hiking trails highlighting the park’s extensive natural beauty and a nine whole disc golf course.

Big Shoals State Park

This 400-acre park is famous for its towering bat house and 28 miles of wooded trails suitable for both hikers and horseback riders. When water levels are between 59 and 61 feet above sea level, the Big Shoals rapids reach a Class III whitewater classification—the largest in Florida!

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Ichetucknee Springs State Park

The crystal-clear Ichetucknee River flows for six miles through shaded hammocks and wetlands before merging with the Santa Fe River. Tubes and equipment can be rented from private vendors near the park entrance, and shuttles are available for launch and pickup points along the river.

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Osceola National Forest

These forested woodlands and swamps provide many opportunities for visitors such as camping, hiking, bicycling, swimming, fishing, hunting, riding horse trails, wildlife viewing and more. Enjoy affordable camping at Ocean Pond, a 1,760-acre natural lake, or spend a day at Olustee Beach for only $3 per vehicle.   

More about the Osceola National Forest.

O’Leno State Park

One of Florida’s first state parks, O’Leno State Park is located along the banks of the scenic Santa Fe River, a tributary of the Suwannee River, and features sinkholes, hardwood hammocks, river swamps and sandhills. Popular activities include hiking or biking on the park’s scenic miles of trails. 

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River Rise Preserve State Park

With towering oak trees, sprawling woodlands, and abundant wildlife, River Rise Preserve State Park is ideal for fishing, biking, and equestrian activities. The park features a 20-stall barn, a primitive equestrian campsite, and 35 miles of trails for horseback riding, hiking, and biking.

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Rum Island Spring and Park

Rum Island Park offers free access to the Santa Fe River and the beautiful, clear freshwater Rum Island Spring. Enjoy canoeing, boating, swimming, snorkeling, fishing, sunning, and more. The park recently added permanent restrooms and improved bank areas around the spring head.

Explore Columbia County’s diverse landscapes and find your next adventure.