Chernobyl Memorial Forest at Ocklawaha Prairie Restoration Area
Location and Hiking Trail Maps with Nature Viewing Information and Photos
Entry Fee: None
This portion of the Ocklawaha Prairie Restoration Area at the south entrance offers a 5 mile loop great for hiking and horseback riding with opportunities to deviate from the main trail. I've provided my hiking map below which plots once such deviation, and I found it very worthwhile with great birding opportunities and a diversity of plant life.
You will access this portion of the restoration area from the south entrance parking lot (Google map below to get you there) rather than the north entrance. I prefer this Chernobyl Memorial Forest entrance for hiking, but you can find information about the north entrance here if you prefer views of the prairie.
Dedicated in 1996 to victims of the Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine, the forest is a section of planted longleaf pine. You can read about the dedication at the Orlando Sentinel. After parking in the free open lot, you will enter and follow the clearly marked red blazes on the trees to follow the loop. You will always find the memorial pine to your right (assuming you follow the loop clockwise) and various local growth such as laurel and live oak to your right. If you follow my map and go off-trail at the way point, a wide grassy area reminiscent of a golf course, you'll get an extra mile of there-and-back hiking or riding with plenty of yellow Carolina jasmine, blackberry brush, turkey oak, and loblolly bay plus ample birding opportunities.
The trail is a mix of packed earth, short grass over packed earth, and some portions of sweet sand that may prove inhibitive to off-road biking unless you are up for a challenge.