Around 1875, barely a decade after the Union defeat at the hands of the Confederate Army at Olustee, retired Union Soldier Tom Russell and his business partner Isaac Eppinger bought up the land around Ocean Pond. The forest boomed with the sounds of centuries-old longleaf pine and ancient bald cypress being felled from the dense forests around the lake. The sawmill hummed, turning forests into lumber. An interpretive walk with extensive details on timbering history, the Trampled Track Trail follows part of the old logging railroad that brought the felled timber to the sawmill, and leads out to a waterfront view on Ocean Pond.
Length: 0.4 mile
Lat-Long: 30.214915, -82.428295
Fees / Permits: $3 day use fee
Restroom: Yes, near trailhead
Follow US 90 east from Lake City to Olustee. Turn left at the railroad depot onto FR 231 and cross the tracks. Continue until this short road ends at the gate to the recreation area. Stop and pay the fee (except on fee-free weekends!). Drive all the way to the far end of the parking lot. The trailhead is near the rear of the recreation area.
Park near the recreation area restrooms and walk east toward the elaborate entryway to this short interpretive trail. The barrier-free old tram road provides solid footing. It is lined with netted chain and cinnamon ferns under the cool shade of large water oaks, loblolly pines and red maples. Bird songs echo through the trees, and you pass several interpretive markers about the sawmill and logging operations. A tall stand of longleaf pines is to your left as you approach a platform with a bench. Look out over the old logging railroad track, used by 20-ton steam locomotives until 1930.
Turn left and step onto the boardwalk, which winds beneath the pines to reach the cypress-lined fringe of Ocean Pond. You can see the ribbon of blue water through the trees. This is a lush and cool microclimate, dense with ferns. The trail ends at an overlook on Ocean Pond after 0.2 mile. During the height of the timber industry, this massive body of water was where the logs floated, waiting to be put through the sawmill.
Look across the pristine lake– you can see Ocean Pond Campground on the far side. Take the time to listen for the trill of songbirds in the cypress strand along the shoreline, and watch for wading birds along the shallow shoreline. Turn around and return the way you came, turning right when the boardwalk ends. You reach the archway – the end of the trail – after 0.4 mile.