Located in Altoona, at the south end of the 400,000-acre Ocala National Forest in Lake County, Fiddler's Green offers a natural, rustic setting for the outdoor-minded and independent traveler. If you prefer to be pampered, served gourmet meals, and have your bed turned down every night with a mint on your pillow, look elsewhere.
Owned by New York native Jim Barnard, Fiddler's Green has been recently re-opened under the new name “Fiddlers Green RV Ranch” and has been expanded to 26 Recreation Vehicle/Living Quarter sites
Days at Fiddler's Green aren't filled with planned activities posted on a bulletin board. Here, the days are yours to do with what you wish—reading on the deck of one of the villas, grilling at your RV site or taking your horses on over 100 miles of trails in the Ocala National Forest
When you book one of the luxury villas, you can provide your own meals, with fully equipped kitchens and outdoor barbeques or you can also drive to a restaurant in nearby towns, such as The Villages, Umatilla, Eustis, or even Orlando and Daytona Beach either down the street or with-in an hour of the “Ranch”.
The 26-acre Fiddler's Green is a serene setting far away from the hustle-bustle of city life. Situated just off County Road 42 and Highway 19 in Altoona, the ranch provides a soothing green space to unwind in. There are two 2bed/2bath luxury villas, available for a weekend or extended stay. The décor is Southwestern and Western, comfortable and can accommodate up to 6 people. These are basically homes away from home, including such necessities like DirectTV, washer/dryers and all the kitchen items and linens needed
The ranch also has 26 recreational-vehicle campsites with full hook-ups and three tent sites. The campsites are particularly popular in the winter, as trail-riding enthusiasts escape the cold weather of the northern states.
For your horse, there are two barns, turnout paddocks, an outdoor arena, and a covered riding arena. The ranch also owns some riding horses and will make arrangements to take guests on guided trail rides into the neighboring Ocala National Forest. However, the ranch doesn't offer day rides to the general public.
Miles of Trails
Next to solitude, the best thing Fiddler's Green has going for it is direct access to 100 miles of forest trails. On the day of our visit, it was a perfect Florida fall day complemented by a cloudless three-shades-of-blue sky. The kind of day just made to order for trail riding.
From the barn, we rode around the fishing lake to a back gate that opened onto a trail. We followed that short trail down a tree-lined country road, then crossed into the forest. We meandered for hours along sandy trails, mostly in the shade of oaks and pines, and circled around a small lake.
There are even a few hills, but nothing too strenuous for either rider or horse in relatively good physical condition. The trails appeared to be well-marked, but it's best to be safe than sorry and initially go out with someone who knows the trails. It's easy to get distracted while riding, particularly on a beautiful day, and find yourself lost in the forest.
Once back safely at Fiddler's Green, you just might want to grill a few hamburgers on the sun-deck barbeque, sit back, and enjoy the peace and quiet of the ranch. Some things are worth more than a mint on your pillow.
For more information, contact Fiddler's Green Ranch, (352) 669-7111; www.fiddlersgreenrvranch.com.