Known for its sandy beaches and tourist attractions, Florida is not the first place on your mind when you think of off-road adventures.
However, thanks to its terrain variety and breathtaking scenery, inland Florida features some of the most exciting trails in all of the US.
If you’re looking to take your side-by-side for an adventure, the Sunshine State has plenty of perfect spots hidden in its swamplands and thick forests, but also several specifically designed recreational parks.
Table of Contents
UTV Trails in Florida
We’ll take a closer look at some of the best locations for adrenaline-fueled UTV rides in the southern-most American state.
Ocala National Forest
Spanning over 400.acres and located just north of Orlando, the Ocala National Forest is the home to some of the finest UTV trails in Florida. Several different trails form a network that is over 200 miles long. Various routes offer different riding experiences, ranging from deep mud and marsh adventures to pleasant cruises between pines and palmetto trees. Trails are mostly flat and sandy with enough width to accommodate side-by-sides. Besides the thrill of the ride itself, you may find yourself enjoying astonishing nature around you, and even encounter some of the local wildlife. Keep in mind that the off-roading is allowed only on designated trails, clearly marked with signs showing Jeeps, motorcycles, ort UTVs/ATVs. You will be asked to maintain a lower speed and be mindful of natural surroundings. Ocala National Forest is a perfect spot for a family UTV outing and, since it’s in Florida, you can ride year-round.
You can get more information on Ocala National Forest UTV trails here.
Osceola National Forest
The smallest of three Florida national forests, Osceola covers 266.000 acres near Lake City. Most of the trails which stretch over 100 miles were once old forest service roads. Osceola trails are especially popular among the mud riding aficionados. Most of the roads feature a large number of water crossings and often tend to get waterlogged due to intense training, making them perfect for anyone who enjoys their rides a bit muddier and wetter. Although there are some challenging trails, most of the rides in Osceola are beginner-friendly and may be a perfect starting point for someone just getting into UTVs. Pay attention to road signs designating the routes, since not all of them are intended for side-by-sides. Also, some areas of the forest are restricted in order to preserve precious wildlife. Similar to other national forests, trails are designed for low speed and you may find yourself charged if driving recklessly. Osceola features numerous amenities, such as camping spots, parking areas, and portable toilets thought the forest.
For further information visit the Osceola page on the National Forest Service site.
Apalachicola National Forest
The largest national forest in Florida, Apalachicola features over 100 miles of off-road trails, with 56 miles designated to UTV use, as a part of the Silver Lake OHV system running through Munson Sandhills, just west of Tallahassee. The sandy trails are mostly smooth and flat, although they get pretty muddy during big rains. some of the trails are even unpassable during adverse weather, so pay attention to signs along the roads. A trail pass is mandatory and can be purchased online or at one of the staging areas. Trails themselves are fairly easy and are great for beginners that are still learning the ins and outs of UTV riding. While riding you’re surrounded by Silver Lake swimming areas and, although camping is not permitted, there are plenty of nice grilling areas.
If you want to know more, check here
Tate’s Hell State Forest
Located on the Florida panhandle, just off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, the trail system of the Tate’s Hell State Forest, perhaps more than any other riding spot, provides UTVers a true Floridian experience. It’s almost always hot and humid, and trails move through the pine Flatwoods, dense swamps, and black water rivers. Don’t’ be surprised if you spot one of Florida’s trademark animals, such as panther, black bear, gopher tortoise, or even gator. The trails themselves are not very testing since they mainly follow the routes of the old service road and are mostly flat and hardpacked, with a few sandy intermissions. The Tate’s Hell trail system features a primitive campground for riders without any electrical hook-ups. Permits are required, and there is also a 96 dB sound level limitation.
Here is a good starting point for all additional information.
Big Cypress National Preserve
At the very tip of Florida, Big Cypress National Preserve covers ever 700.000 acres of wetlands and forest, with plenty of varied trails leading through the wilderness. Due to the endangered plant and animal species, riding is allowed only primary and secondary trails while the rest of the preserve is restricted. Also, there is a ban on mudding, racing, and competitive events. Riding through the Big Cypress is mostly for side-by-side owners who enjoy taking it easy, taking in the scenery, and observing the wildlife. It is a perfect getaway for disconnecting from everyday life and taking it slow. A permit is required and there;’s a three-step process to obtain it. The best time to visit is from November to March when there are less heat and humidity and you won’t have to spend most of your day fending off mosquitos.
If you’re interested to learn more, check here.
Croom Motorcycle Area
Located at the Withlacoochee State Forest, two hours away from Cape Canaveral, Croom Motorcycle Area provides 2600 acres of off-riding paradise. The trails meander through cypress and longleaf pine forest and are color-coded designating motorcycle or UTV/ATV use. Be aware that here you can ride only UTVs that are up to 50 inches wide, such as Honda Pioneer 1000 or similar models. Plenty of pits, left from abandoned mining operations, provide mud bogs and steep drop-offs for some extra fun. Croom Motorcycle Area also includes a peewee track suitable for beginners. Within the area, there are numerous campsites with access to other nature activities.
More information on location, rules, and activities can be found here.
Clear Creek Riding Area
The Clear Creek OHV Trails stretches over 615 acres of Blackwater State Forest and features 50 miles of trails dedicated to off-roading ranging from very easy to fairly challenging. Located in northwestern Florida, it is a relatively new off-road park, opened in 2015 and it was partially financed by Polaris and Yamaha. The trails are rather sunny and dry, and even a heavy rain doesn’t result in a lot of mud. A large flat staging area is set in the middle, among the loose dirt and wooded trails. Also, there’s is a small training track set up for kids to get their first taste of UTV riding. The maximum width of side-by-sides allowed is 65 inches.
More information is available here.
Hog Waller Mud Bog and Park
Owned by a local family, Hogg Waller Mud Bog and the off-road area was once an old logging community. It’ open year-round and the whole park covers a total of 1100 acres including 50 miles of trails. mud bog, and water crossings. A lot of trails used to be old railroad beds of or service roads for timber operations. The UTV and ATV mud bog events are organized one a month over a weekend, but there’s plenty of forest trails to explore every other day. The main mud pit is 10 feet below ground level and is 6 acres in size. Hog Waller park features numerous amenities including a camping area and public restrooms.
You can find plenty of useful information on the Hog Waler official website.
Mallory Swamp Trail
This is a free public trail system that is a part of Mallory Swamp Wildlife Management Area in northeastern Florida and includes over 35 miles of off-road trails. Trails are mainly wide and flat with several sand areas and can get a bit muddy during heavy rainfalls. The trails themselves are not very challenging, but the main draw here is the exciting wildlife you’ll get the chance to observe while riding. The area is open every day during summer, but it closes from September to May due to the hunting season. The closest campground is in nearby Mayo, but the area does feature bathrooms and overnight parking.
You can find more about Mallory Swamp Trail here.
Bone Valley Park
Owned and managed by Polk County, Bone Valley Park features 15 miles of trails, stretching across 200 acres of land. Trails vary in difficulty and include open riding areas as well as steep hill climbs and rides through pine trees and palmetto bushes. Since the park is rather small and most of the trails form short loops, it may be the perfect place for beginners to test their newly learned skills. Also, a great place to spend the day with your UTV-loving family or friends. There are no big jumps, and you may run into occasional sand patches or mud puddles. The amenities include restrooms and picnic areas.
You may find all the additional information on the Polk County website.
Florida has much more to offer than Disney World and Miami night clubs. It features an incredibly diverse landscape and plentiful wildlife, making it one of the most attractive destinations for UTV riders not just in the US, but also throughout the world.
Florida has something for all of the UTV enthusiasts – dirty and muddy, adrenaline-rushing, challenging trails, but also pleasant scenic rides.
The warm climate makes year-round riding possible and gives you a chance to pair up your side-by-side adventure with a couple of enjoyable days on the coast.
The growth of off-roading popularity in the state has led to an increasing number of places where you can test your skills and we encourage you to go beyond this list and explore some of the trails on your own.