Road to Expo
The City Of Stark, FL
The City of Keystone Heights, FL
“…a wilderness, a vast unbroken pine forest, where the deer, bear, wildcat, and the stealthy panther roamed at their own free will. There was not a single house, worthy of the name, in what is now the corporate limits- only a few little shanties occupied by railroad hands.” The building of the first rail line, connecting the Atlantic Ocean with the Gulf of Mexico (Fernandina to Cedar Key) undoubtedly supplied the tonic that spurred Starke’s growth from an unnamed crossroads settlement to a village of 138 residents by the 1860 census
The City of Stark, Florida, established in 1857, still has a small town vibe with a population of only 5,500. Starke is located approximately 50 miles southwest of Jacksonville, approximately 30 miles northeast of Gainesville, and about 40 miles southeast of Lake City.
In 1917, the city of Brooklyn (eventually Keystone Heights) consisted of a large unpainted building called the Brooklyn Hotel; a combination general store and post office; and several small houses scattered about. Property Developer John J. Lawrence, who hailed from Pennsylvania, noticed the area on a visit to Lake Brooklyn, and instantly became attracted to the region.
In 1920, the Lawrence family completed their home, the first house built in Keystone Heights, which overlooked Lake Geneva, and still lies there today at the corner of Jasmine Street & Lawrence Blvd. The town would be incorporated as Keystone Heights, named after Lawrence’s home state of Pennsylvania’s nickname, the “Keystone” state, in 1924. Keystone Heights has a small population of only 1,350 residents.
Accommodations, Restaurants & Grocery Stores
Local Grocery Stores:
Walmart Superstore Starke
Hitchcock’s Market Keystone Heights
Winn-Dixie Keystone Heights
Local RV Parks:
Keystone Heights RV Resort
James E. Johnson Memorial RV Park
National Forests of Florida
Apalachicola National Forest
Apalachicola National Forest is a flat to gently rolling terrain and moist lowland where cypress, longleaf pine/wiregrass, and savannas provide refuge for an unusual combination of amphibians and wildflowers. The Apalachicola is one of the last remaining large areas of swamps, savannahs, and pine forest. Apalachicola’s rivers and streams provide a steady freshwater flow to some of the most productive coastal bays or estuaries known for shellfish and other commercial seafood. Portions of the forest in wet lowlands abound with cypress, oak and magnolias. Stands of slash and longleaf pines cover the sandhills and flatwoods. If you’re looking for something to do, you can visit Fort Gadsden Historic Site or Leon Sinks Geological Area . The Apalachicola National Forest offers water-based recreation such as boating and fishing along the Ochlockonee and Apalachicola Rivers, and swimming in the numerous lakes.
Click here for camping: Apalachicola National Forest Camping
Ocala National Forest:
The Ocala National Forest is a unique and fascinating Forest that offers an accommodating climate for year-round recreating. The Forest has huge springs, twisting streams and lakes for fishing, boating, and water skiing. Many of the scenic lakes formed when limestone bedrock dissolved, permitting the surface layer to slump and fill with water. The cool crystal-clear water of Juniper Springs, Alexander Springs, Salt Springs and Silver Glen Springs entice many visitors to take a cool dip. Snorkelers frequently find a thrilling underwater view of fish, swaying vegetation and cavernous springs. The Forest offers wonderful opportunities for mountain biking, off-roading, horseback riding, and hiking. The Ocala portion of the Florida National Scenic Trail traverses the Forest north to south, winding through multiple ecosystems. Hikers can experience rolling hills in the open longleaf pine forest, vast prairies, wooden boardwalks through swamps, thick scrub oak – sand pine, and oak hammocks. The Trail meanders approximately 67 miles through the Ocala National Forest, making it an excellent choice for backpacking.
Click here for camping: Ocala National Forest Camping
Osceola National Forest:
Nearly two hundred thousand acres of the original Florida are waiting to be explored in the Osceola National Forest. Just west of Jacksonville, Osceola is a peaceful place where people come to escape their busy lives and reconnect with the land. Flatwoods and swamps transport visitors back in time and provide a tranquil setting. These forested woodlands provide many opportunities for a wide range of visitor experiences such as camping, hiking, swimming, fishing and hunting, off-roading, horseback riding, wildlife viewing and many more.
Click here for camping: Osceola National Forest Camping