About the Byway
Contrasted with the Blue Ridge Parkway, where mountainous splendor is on view from the car window, the Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway is packed with hidden treasures, and calls out to the Discoverer in all of us, luring us to get out of the car “touch the forest”, as local author Dana Ste. Claire puts it.
This road leads you to a mosaic of natural sites and communities surrounding one of Florida’s most distinctive ecosystems, known as the Big Scrub. The Big Scrub is the largest continuous sand pine forest created from ancient sand dunes capped with vegetation adapted to a lack of water. Traversing eastern Marion County and parts of Lake, Putnam and Volusia counties, the 60-mile long corridor along SR 40 serves as the backbone for a network of scenic roads and interpretive trails.
The surrounding land includes the Ocala National Forest, Lake George State Forest, Heart Island Conservation Area and Tiger Bay State Forest. A main attraction of the area is the many springs glittering along the byway, as well as the proximity of waterways for travel and recreation. The Florida black bear is at its highest population density here; these ambassadors of the byway are often close to the road, so look out for them!
Check out our different traveler types: Historians, Adventurers, Naturalists, and Vacationers to get an inspiration for the kind of discovery that intrigues you most about the area. These examples show what kind of people have been drawn to this area, and lead to ideas about what might fill a day or a week best for your travel group. For those who want to get straight to the action, see our Tours Page.