At the northernmost extent of the Lake Wales Ridge, the rolling hills of Clermont touch the edge of the Green Swamp. It’s at this intersection you’ll find interesting places to hike and cycle in state parks and other natural lands, with both backpacking opportunities and easy nature hikes to keep the kids happy.
As kids, we both came to Clermont and stood atop the Citrus Tower, overlooking orange groves as far as the eye could see. Those days are now gone. It’s a sea of subdivisions that washes across the ridges towards Orlando, so it’s fortunate that there are protected natural areas for residents to enjoy.
Flowing northward from Lake Louisa towards Lake Harris, the Palatlakaha River chain of lakes provides a place for paddlers to explore. The Florida Coast to Coast Trail comes right through Clermont on the South Lake Trail, but is lacking a westward connection.
The Green Swamp defines the southwest boundary of the region. It is where four of Florida’s rivers – including the north-flowing Ocklawaha and Withlacoochee Rivers – rise from rain-fed floodplain forests. Portions of the swamp were carved out for agriculture long ago, and it is through this area that the Van Fleet Trail cuts a north-south line from SR 50 down to Polk City, connecting with trail systems in the greater Lakeland area.
We launched a new full-color edition of 50 Hikes in Central Florida at the National Trails Festival in Deland the first weekend of October. Take a peek inside.
One of the best parts of owning a VW camper van is how versatile it can be. When Primrose isn’t home, we make use of her as our delivery vehicle for various projects.
Hikes near Orlando theme parks, by reader request. The area between Sea World and Universal Studios is both heavily populated and commercial, so you have to drive beyond the Orlando International Airport to find the wild places.