Just south of the Ocklawaha Restoration Area, Sunnyhill Restoration Area offers abundant views. You will find forest, open prairie, and plenty of wildlife. For instance, the Levee Trail runs along Canal 231 which hosts many waterfowl and flowers.
Maintained by the St. Johns Water Management District, Sunnyhill offers a rustic camping area too. Three entrances lead you to the the hiking loops. That is, a North Trailhead, Blue House Trailhead, and a South Trailhead. But I strongly recommend starting at the north trailhead, Google mapped below. Mostly because it starts in shaded woods and is the closest to camping. Plus, it offers abundant parking, and you can reach any trail from there.
Hiking Sunnyhill Restoration Area
I hiked all or portions of red, yellow, white, and levee trails for a 13.6 mile loop. But don’t feel that you need to put a day into it. From that trailhead, you can have a really nice time looping red and yellow for just a few miles.
The trails are all well maintained and wide. But be prepared for plenty of sun beyond the red trail at the entrance. Really, only the red trail offers much shade. Otherwise, you will find the trails well managed and flat with short grass. Where earthen, the ground is compacted and easy to hike.
Camping at Sunnyhill Restoration Area
You’ll spot plenty of wildlife with great birding opportunities with woods and water all around. For instance, I spotted several swallow-tailed kites in June. I did not see alligators, but others have.
Meanwhile, the camping area lies about a half mile in from the north trailhead, on the red loop. It offers a fire pit, benches, and picnic tables. If you continue south, an observation deck offers amazing views of the marsh and prairie. And I found that you can bird spot there for hours.
A bit south of that, I decided to loop it from the blue house trailhead and head north along the levee trail. Here, you will be in open sun. While grueling in summer, the aquatic flowers and waterfowl are amazing.
Whether for a couple hours, a day, or camping overnight, enjoy these excellent trails near Ocala!
Trail Images Below
Observation Deck at Sunnyhill Restoration Area
Streambank Spider Lily – Hymenocallis rotata grows along north central Florida river banks and marshes
White Water Lily nymphaea odorata grows in water, a small white lily with yellow stamen with lily pads
Great Blue Heron along Ocklawaha River Levee – Canal 231