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 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. You’ll see the elaborate entryway to this short interpretive trail, a barrier-free old tram road that provides solid footing. The trail is lined with netted chain and cinnamon ferns under the cool shade of large water oaks, loblolly pines, and red maples. A tall stand of longleaf pine is to your left as you approach a platform and bench. The old logging track was used by 20-ton steam locomotives until 1930.
Turn left and step onto the boardwalk, which leads to the cypress-lined fringe of Ocean Pond. This is a lush, cool microclimate, dense with ferns. The trail ends at an overlook after 0.2 mile. During the height of the timber industry, logs floated in Ocean Pond, waiting to be put through the sawmill.
Across the lake is Ocean Pond Campground. Take the time to listen for songbirds in the cypress strand along the shoreline, and watch for wading birds along the shoreline. Return the way you came, turning right when the boardwalk ends. You reach the archway – the end of the trail – after 0.4 mile.