Cary State Forest offers beautiful views of mature mesic and wet pine flatwoods, basin swamps and marshes, and cypress domes. The state forest attracts many visitors each year for the educational experience provided by its open air teaching pavilion and nature trail. Common wildlife species found on the forest include wild turkey, bobcat, gopher tortoise, fox squirrel, swallowed tailed kite, coyote, great horned and barred owl, white-tailed deer, pileated woodpecker, yellow-throated vireo and pinewood tree frog. A wide variety of unique and rare plant species are also found on the forest, including pitcher plants, orchids, butterworts, sabatia, lilies, lupines, milkweeds and petunias.
Cary State Forest offers the public a variety of passive, resource-based recreational opportunities, including hiking, RV and primitive camping, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, environmental education, and hunting. Most of the current recreation facilities and designated trails are located on the original Cary Tract. Bicycling, hiking, and horseback riding are permitted on all forest roads and fire lines on the Cary, Monticello, Thomas Creek, and Norfolk Southern tracts; unless posted as closed to public access. The forest is open during daylight hours for visitors to enjoy picnicking, hiking, bicycling, fishing, wildlife viewing and horseback riding.