Along Lake Apopka’s western shore, Ferndale Preserve offers some of the finest panorama views of the largest lake in Central Florida. A restoration area that was, in the not too recent past, a working orange grove, it’s pretty rough around the edges, with little shade and deep soft sand along the trail system. The views, however, make this one worth a ramble, and you’ll find something here that I haven’t found anywhere else in the region: an elevation change of 112 feet in half a mile.
Length: 2.1 miles
Fees / Permits: free
Difficulty: moderate to difficult
Bug factor: moderate
Restroom: at the trailhead
Open Wed-Sun. Trails are shared in part with off-road bicyclists and equestrians. There is extremely limited shade, so use sun protection.
From Florida’s Turnpike, take the SR 50 (Clermont / Winter Garden) exit and head 1.3 miles on SR 50 towards Clermont. Turn right on Lake Blvd, which quickly reaches CR 438 (Old SR 50). Turn left. After 1.9 miles, the road becomes CR 455. Follow it 3.3 miles, driving through Monteverde, where it makes a sharp left after you pass through town. The preserve entrance is on your right after you enter Ferndale.
The hike follows a path uphill from the parking area and over the ridge on a series of old roads through a former orange grove. At the time of our visit, the orange trees were being removed, granting amazing views of Lake Apopka below. With over 100 feet of elevation change to hike down the ridge to the lake and again back up over the ridge, it’s a bit of a workout! The preserve is under restoration back to natural habitats.