With panoramic views of the Lake Jesup floodplain, the Cameron Tract of Lake Jesup Conservation Area is a surprisingly beautiful location for a short hike. In late summer and early fall, swamp sunflowers paint the landscape in a sea of yellow. This isn’t quite a footpath – it’s rather rough – but is a marked loop a mile long to give you a taste of the floodplain without too much chance of getting your feet wet. Shared with equestrians and off-road cyclists, it’s a great spot for bird – and plane – watching.
Length: 1 mile
Lat-Long: 28.760573, -81.213720
Fees / Permits: free
Bug factor: moderate to high
We’ve marked the difficulty as moderate since you’ll need to scout ahead for each of the red diamond markers as the trail is not well-worn nor well-maintained. Beware of large fire ant nests. The low grasses in the prairie mark muddy, marshy areas. You may get your shoes wet on this hike.
Follow Lake Mary Blvd east of US 17/92 in Sanford towards the Orlando/Sanford International Airport. After passing the airport entrance road on the left, watch for Cameron Blvd crossing the road. Turn right, and the trailhead entrance is immediately on your left. You can also approach via Lake Mary Blvd East from the intersection of SR 46 and SR 415.
Follow the berm above the impoundment over to the kiosk for an overview of the landscape. The Cameron Tract is mainly open prairie along Lake Jesup with palm hammocks and a few oak hammocks. Since the trail seems optimized for equestrian use, it stays out of the hammocks and skirts the edges of the prairies along the edge of the hammocks. Leaving the kiosk, follow the berm until you see a gate straight ahead. Head for the gate; there is a pedestrian entrance to the right of it, which you should close behind you as cattle roam free in this area. You may not see cattle, but you will see cow patties.
Turn right and begin following the red markers along the rim of this small prairie, where swamp sunflowers bloom in late summer. The trail follows the prairie rim and weaves its way out to sweeping views of Lake Jesup across a much grander and larger prairie before circling back around to the other side of this small prairie to complete the loop by reaching this gate. Follow the impoundment berm to exit.
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