Hiking Chernobyl Memorial Forest at Ocklawaha Prairie Restoration Area
Location and Hiking Trail Maps with Nature Viewing Information and Photos
Entry Fee: None
St. John’s River Water Management District (SJRWMD) Official Page
Chernobyl Memorial Forest Location
The Chernobyl Memorial Forest is a portion of the Ocklawaha Prairie Restoration Area at the south entrance. It offers a 5 mile loop great for hiking and horseback riding. (Note: the proper spelling is Chornobyl, with two Os.) Yet you can easily add miles by deviating from the main trail on various spurs. I’ve provided my hiking map below which plots once such deviation. Plus, 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. The Google map below to get you there. While I prefer this Chernobyl Memorial Forest entrance for a day of hiking, both are great!
Background and Hiking
Dedicated in 1996 to victims of the Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine, the forest provides an abundance of longleaf pine. You can read about the Chernobyl Memorial Forest dedication at the Orlando Sentinel. After parking in the free open lot, you will 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. Likewise, various local growth such as laurel and live oak lie to your right.
Add Distance to Your Hike
If you follow my map and go off-trail at the way point, you’ll first see a wide grassy area reminiscent of a golf course. Taking this spur adds get an extra mile of there-and-back hiking or riding. And you will find plenty of lovely flora and fauna. Some I noticed include yellow Carolina jasmine, blackberry brush, turkey oak, and loblolly bay plus ample birding opportunities. And you’ll even spot a surprising abundance of prickly pear cactus!
The trail is a mix of bare, packed earth and short grass. Some short portions, however, have sweet sand. These may prove prohibitive to off-road biking unless you are up for a challenge.
Trail Images Below
Hiking, biking, and riding trails with maps