About the Byway
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. Unlike a road like Blue Ridge Parkway, where you can gaze at mountains from the car, this byway demands you get off-road to see why it’s a nationally designated site of beauty.
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!
Please have a look at the different travel styles: History, Adventure, Nature, and Vacation to help you narrow down what kind of discovery intrigues you most about the area. We have given examples of discoverers who have come before to work as your guides.