Lake George State Forest is made up of four tracts of land and primarily comprised of slash pine, longleaf pine, bottomland hardwoods, and interspersed cypress and bay depressions. In 1998, nearly half the acreage of Lake George State Forest was damaged during the Firestorm wildfires. Restoration efforts included harvesting salvage timber and reforesting with longleaf pine and slash pine.
Lake George State Forest is located in northwestern Volusia County near the towns of Barberville and Astor. To access the forest north of State Road 40 (Astor Tract), take Riley Pridgeon Road, located 1/2 mile east of the town of Astor. To access the forest south of State Road 40 (Mary Farms and Dexter tracts), take St. Johns River Road, located 1/2 mile east of Astor. This goes to the Bluffton Recreation Area. An entrance for hunters and day use visitors is located on State Road 40, 3 1/4 miles east of Astor.
The Bluffton Mound and Midden at the Bluffton Recreation Area illustrate the rich archaeological history of the St. Johns River and Lake George area. For thousands of years indigenous peoples inhabited the area. Explorers of the 18th and 19th centuries first noticed the large mounds of freshwater shellfish that were created by these early inhabitants. Later, the shell mounds attracted some of Florida's earliest archaeologists. Today, little of the mounds is left because most were excavated for material to build roads.
Past uses of Lake George State Forest include timber management, naval stores production, grazing and hunting. Prior to 1910, logging canals were dug through the swamps to remove cypress logs. In the 1930s much of the area was forested in longleaf pine and slash pine and used for cattle grazing. Starting in the 1960s, slash pine was planted since previous owners had aggressively harvested the forest.
Lake George State Forest is part of an extensive wildlife corridor that provides habitat and roaming area crucial to the survival of the Florida black bear population in the area. Lake George State Forest is one of several publicly owned tracts of land encircling Lake George, the second largest lake in Florida. The St. Johns River borders 3 1/2 miles of the forest and provides a wealth of ecologically valuable communities as well as river-based recreation. The forest contributes to water resource protection of the Lake George watershed and to aquifer recharge.
Wildlife that make their home on the forest include the bald eagle, sandhill crane, white-tailed deer, wild turkey and bobcat.
Lake George State Forest offers many recreation opportunities. Bluffton Recreation Area is located on the St. Johns River and offers fishing, picnicking, and hiking on a 3/4-mile interpretive nature trail. While there is no boat ramp available, canoes, kayaks, and small jon boats may be launched from the bank. Fishing is also available at Jenkins Pond.
The forest is open to visitors during daylight hours. Hikers, bicyclists and equestrians are welcome on roads, designated trails and permanent fire lines. Contact us to register for a primitive camping permit or for vehicle access to portions of the Mary Farms and Dexter units (except during Special Opportunity Hunts). Lake George State Forest is managed as a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
In keeping with its mission to protect and manage Florida's forest resources, the Florida Forest Service has developed rules that apply to all state forest visitors.
Find out more about state forest fees and guidelines.