Black Bear Wilderness Area

One of Seminole County’s nicest natural lands, Black Bear Wilderness Area offers some of the best birding and wildlife watching in the region. True to its name, it was a place to find bear scratches on trees, bear prints, bear scat … and Florida black bears themselves. We saw a mother and two large cubs on our first visit as we were leaving, and another bear in the woods on our most recent visit. Hunting is not allowed in this preserve.

With a new 7.1 mile loop opening June 12, 2015, there are now several options for hiking at Black Bear Wilderness:

1) The original round-trip to an overlook on the St. Johns River (2 miles).

2) The new 7.1-mile Black Bear Wilderness Loop Trail. It follows a series of levees out to the St. Johns River and back around to the original route. The trail is mostly in the shade and perched atop the levees, often high above the marshes, canals, and forests but sometimes right down at their level. It is not an easy hike by any means: we’d rate it moderate to difficult, given the slippery steep grades in many places. A hiking stick is must. This route requires a commitment to complete the entire loop. There are no shortcuts, although there is a primitive campsite halfway along the loop. This is certainly one of the region’s most beautiful hikes. We strongly suggest you follow the loop clockwise to enjoy the river breezes on your return trip.

3) A round-trip of whatever length you like to enjoy the views along the St. Johns River, best done by following the loop counterclockwise. The terrain gets rough once you get past the overlook on the St. Johns, turning into a narrow footpath with steep dropoffs, very rooty and muddy in places. Bring a hiking stick for balance. A good turn-around point is the new primitive campsite near the 3 mile mark, but you can turn around anywhere before that.

Explore the park

  • Three bears at Black Bear Wilderness Bear encounter at Black Bear Wilderness - Visiting this Seminole County preserve for the first time, a string of excellent wildlife sightings culminates in seeing three bears at the trailhead.
  • Along a narrow levee on the Black Bear Wilderness Loop Trail Black Bear Wilderness Loop Trail - Trot out your sense of adventure for an immersion into one of the wildest trails you'll find near Orlando, the new 7.1-mile loop in the Black Bear Wilderness Area in Sanford
  • Black Bear boardwalk Black Bear Wilderness reopens - After another long closure, Black Bear Wilderness Area - one of Sanford's most beautiful and wildlife-rich hikes - has reopened, this time with a new 7.1-mile loop trail in place.
  • Boardwalk Black Bear Wilderness Walk - A wildlife-rich hike through the floodplain of the St. Johns River, this 2-mile walk introduces you to the beauty of Black Bear Wilderness Area in Sanford.
  • Bear at Black Bear Wilderness Looping through Black Bear Wilderness - In our first two miles, we saw a boar ... and a bear. Be ready for adventure at Black Bear Wilderness Area, especially along the new 7.1 mile loop.

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