Hiking through the Orlando metro – four counties, including Osceola, Orange, Seminole, and Lake – means a strong sense of contrasts between wild and urban. It’s surprising just how wild the segments of the Florida Trail on public lands are through this section, following an arc that parallels the St. Johns River and its tributaries. With the exception of two days of roadwalk through a vast cattle ranch and two days of urban paved trails, this section shows off hammocks of ancient live oaks and towering cabbage palms, vast pine savannas, desert-like scrub forests, and bogs with terrestrial orchids and pitcher plants. Easily accessed from a variety of trailheads, these segments are popular destinations on the weekends.
9.4 miles. The north section of Three Lakes WMA north of Canoe Creek Rd leads through vast open pine savannas and through scrub and pine flatwoods, as well as a bayhead swamp with a boardwalk. Just a few miles into the hike, you tunnel beneath the busy Florida Turnpike.
Florida Trail, Forever Florida
7.3 miles. The first 2.3 miles is a roadwalk up US 441, which leads to Forever Florida. It’s a commercial attraction that showcases the beauty of the pine flatwoods and cypress swamps on a working cattle ranch, and has a campsite that can be used with permission.
13.8 miles. From the vastness of pine savannas to the leafy shade of the Crabgrass Creek floodplain, the Florida Trail through Bull Creek offers a great deal of diversity and two designated campsites. A 20.5 mile loop provides a weekend option.
Florida Trail, Deseret Ranch
30.1 miles. More than a decade ago, Deseret Ranch closed access to the Florida Trail, which ran atop a dike through their property. Long distance hikers must now follow this two day roadwalk through the ranch along public roads to connect to Tosohatchee WMA.
10 miles. A deep immersion in palm hammocks with ancient live oaks and one of Florida’s oldest slash pine forests makes the ramble through Tosohatchee, known for its botanical beauty, an unforgettable experience.
4.9 miles. Between the community of Christmas along SR 50 and the Wheeler Road trailhead, the Seminole Ranch section winds through jungle-like stands of palms and live oaks along the St. Johns River floodplain.
9.4 miles. Running partly through Seminole Ranch and partly through Bronson State Forest, this relatively new section of the Florida Trail is a delightful mix of wetland and shaded habitats, with palm hammocks in the lowlands and pine flatwoods with bogs in the uplands.
4.3 miles. With rosemary scrub in the high, dry uplands of Chuluota Wilderness and the lush floodplains of an array of feeder streams nourishing the Econlockhatchee River, this segment makes for a pleasant day hike.
4.1 miles. Connecting a 2.1 mile backroads roadwalk on a paved but dead-end road and a beautiful but short stretch of the Florida Trail through Mills Creek Woodlands, this connector segment showcases the beauty of the Mills Creek floodplain.
10 miles. Along a ribbon of wilderness defining the edge of suburban Orlando, the Florida Trail shows off the delights of Little-Big Econ State Forest while traversing pitcher plant bogs, scrub forests, and the rugged bluffs of the Econlockhatchee River.
Florida Trail, Cross Seminole
25.8 miles. The most urban section of the Florida Trail weaves its way through communities in Seminole County utilizing sidewalks, parks, short roadwalks, and paved bicycle trails to connect from Little-Big Econ State Forest to Seminole State Forest.
7.8 miles. A delight to enter after the urban walk on Orlando’s edge, this segment through Seminole State Forest is known for its bear population. Vast, open pine flatwoods and scrub forests form a counterpoint to dense hammocks around Blackwater Creek and its tributaries.
Florida Trail, Cassia
12.7 miles. A mix of connecting roadwalks and short forays into the forest, this segment of the Florida Trail connects Seminole State Forest with the Ocala National Forest via Royal Trails and Camp La-No-Che.
THREE LAKES TRAILHEAD [27.927687,-81.124887]: Main parking area for hiking access, at north end of loops and exit to Canoe Creek Road. No facilities. Fee.
FOREVER FLORIDA [28.042276,-81.038680]: Main entrance of this popular ecotourism attraction leads to the Cypress Restaurant and depature points for ecotours. Access trail south via US 441.
BULL CREEK HUNT CAMP [28.084741,-80.967182]: Access to Bull Creek Loop via Crabgrass Creek Rd. To head northbound on the Florida Trail, follow the loop east; to head southbound, follow the loop west.
US 192 ACCESS [28.116616,-80.93251]: Access to Bull Creek section where it emerges to a roadwalk into Deseret Ranch northbound. Do not block the gate.
YATES ROAD ACCESS [28.453132,-80.961827]: Access to Tosohatchee section where the roadwalk segment from Deseret Ranch ends. Do not block the gate.
TAYLOR CREEK TRAILHEAD [28.373904, -80.904310]: Trailhead for Taylor Creek Loop, 1 mile S of Deseret roadwalk route along SR 520. Camping.
FISH HOLE ROAD TRAILHEAD [28.466062,-80.956361]: Grassy parking area in Tosoahatchee WMA with no facilities. Closest to Tiger Branch Campsite. Fee.
POWERLINE ROAD EAST TRAILHEAD [28.504291,-80.928858]: Grassy parking area in Tosoahatchee WMA with no facilities. Fee.
POWERLINE ROAD WEST TRAILHEAD [28.504122,-80.950154]: Grassy parking area in Tosoahatchee WMA with no facilities. Closest to Youth Group campsite. Fee.
SEMINOLE RANCH TRAILHEAD [28.538468,-80.988022]: Small parking area in Christmas, just north of SR 50, with no facilities. Do not block the gate.
WHEELER ROAD TRAILHEAD [28.568946,-80.996266]: Large grassy parking area at the end of Wheeler Road across from Orlando Wetlands Park. 0.9 mile blue blaze connector to the Florida Trail. No facilities except kiosk. Restrooms, picnic shelter, and potable water available across the street when Orlando Wetlands Park is open.
JOSHUA CREEK TRAILHEAD[28.591892,-81.042541]: Large grassy parking area for Bronson State Forest access, no facilities except picnic tables and kiosk, popularly used during hunting season. Fee.
CHULUOTA WILDERNESS TRAILHEAD [28.623217,-81.063283]: Grassy parking area at Chuluota Wilderness near the end of Curryville Rd, no facilities except picnic table and kiosk.
PANORAMA TRAILHEAD [28.63624,-81.100657]: Grassy parking area along Mills Creek Road, 0.4 mile blue-blaze to Florida Trail, no facilities.
BRUMLEY ROAD ACCESS [28.653077, -81.096552]: Room for several cars on the shoulder at the Florida Trail crossing between Mills Creek and Little-Big Econ State Forest. No facilities.
SNOW HILL ROAD ACCESS [28.667442,-81.113870]: Room for several cars on the shoulder at the Florida Trail crossing on Snow Hill Rd. No facilities, high-speed traffic.
SNOW HILL ROAD TRAILHEAD [28.649219,-81.129719]: Large trailhead for the Flagler Trail into Little-Big Econ State Forest, 1.2 mile blue blaze connector via the Flagler Trail, no facilities except kiosk.
BARR STREET TRAILHEAD [28.687112,-81.159375]: Primary hiking trailhead for Little-Big Econ State Forest, 0.2 mile blue blaze connector to Florida Trail. Primitive camping nearby. No facilities except kiosk. Fee.
LOCKWOOD BOULEVARD [28.667006, -81.176692]: Trail crossing from Little-Big Econ State Forest into suburbia. Room on east shoulder for multiple cars. No facilities, kiosk.
CROSS SEMINOLE TRAIL PARKING [28.670718,-81.207924]: Designated parking area on Railroad Street in downtown Oviedo between the Town House Restaurant and plaza with post office, Popeyes, Ace Hardware. No facilities.
BLACK HAMMOCK TRAILHEAD [28.68813,-81.230478]: Trailhead parking for the Cross-Seminole Trail. Restrooms, potable water. 0.2 mile blue-blaze connector on paved trail.
TUSCAWILLA ACCESS [28.697448,-81.261772]: Dirt lot behind McDonalds at corner of Tuscawilla Road and SR 434 in Winter Springs, adjoining Winter Springs Village with Publix grocery store. 0.2 mile path to Cross-Seminole Trail.
CENTRAL WINDS PARK [28.707956,-81.270224]: Parking during daylight hours, access through park gate to Cross-Seminole Trail. Restrooms and potable water.
SPRING HAMMOCK PRESERVE [28.721406,-81.307319]: Parking during daylight hours, access through park gate to Cross-Seminole Trail. Restrooms and potable water.
SOLDIER CREEK PARK [28.721755,-81.309610]: Parking off SR 419, access to Cross-Seminole Trail. Restrooms and potable water at ballfields.
BIG TREE PARK [28.72147,-81.331666]: Day use only, paved parking, access to Cross-Seminole Trail. Restrooms and potable water.
GREENWOOD LAKES PARK [28.733946,-81.337738]: Day use only, paved parking, access to Cross-Seminole Trail. Restrooms and potable water.
LAKE MARY TRAILHEAD [28.756585,-81.346040]: Day use only, paved parking, access to Cross-Seminole Trail. Restrooms and potable water, concession and picnic tables.
MARKHAM ROAD TRAILHEAD [28.791657,-81.397863]: Day use only, paved parking, access to Cross-Seminole Trail. Restrooms and potable water.
LOWER WEKIVA RIVER PRESERVE TRAILHEAD [28.814948,-81.405692]: Parking area off SR 46 for state park. Picnic bench and kiosk, no facilities.
BEAR POND TRAILHEAD [28.819203,-81.428048]: Large parking area for access to Seminole State Forest. Portable toilet. Large pond and picnic shelter. Fee.
CASSIA TRAILHEAD [28.889979,-81.461577]: Large parking area for access to Seminole State Forest. Portable toilet. Fee.
CLEARWATER LAKE TRAILHEAD [28.976658,-81.550142]: Small paved parking area for access to the Ocala State Forest. Kiosk, no facilities. Facilities available 0.4 miles north inside Clearwater Lake Recreation Area (camping, restrooms, potable water), fee.
Once you’re north of the vast prairies of Osceola County and into the fringe of the Orlando metro, services become easy to find. CHRISTMAS is an important resupply stop for hikers who haven’t seen services since River Ranch, with a convenience store and barbecue restaurant. On the Cross Seminole section you’ll find convenience stores within sight of the trail as well as grocery stores, post offices, restaurants, motels and hotels, and fast food in OVIEDO, WINTER SPRINGS , LONGWOOD , LAKE MARY , and HEATHROW . Bus service is available in this section to points inside Orlando, as well as access to two international airports and Amtrak. Then it’s back into the woods until PAISLEY , just outside the Ocala National Forest, with convenience store and Dollar General resupply to the north along SR 42.