Developed as part of a future corridor for the Florida National Scenic Trail, the orange-blazed FNST route through Moss Park is obvious to most visitors but is not on the park map.
With a prominent trailhead adjoining the camp host site at the park’s campground, it crosses the park’s main road three times before joining it on the road bridge over the canal to exit.
Connecting to Split Oak Forest WEA on its south end and Crosby Island Marsh Preserve to the north of Moss Park, this linear hike is part of a 7.1 mile linear stand-alone segment of the Florida Trail.
Have a family member drop you off or pick you up at one end for the linear walk, or tackle it as a round-trip for a 3.4-mile hike inside Moss Park.
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Length: 1.7 miles linear
Trailhead: 28.37073, -81.18856
Address: 12901 Moss Park Rd, Orlando
Fees: $1 per pedestrian/cyclist. $3 for 1-2 passengers, $5 for up to 8 passengers.
Restroom: In the adjoining campground
Land manager: Orange County
Moss Park is open summer 8-8, winter 8-6. No alcohol or pets permitted.
Campers must reserve in advance online. Call directly for pavilion and group camping reservations.
Moss Park is roughly 20 miles east of downtown Orlando. Toll roads provide the easiest access: from Interstate 4 follow SR 528 east past the Orlando International Airport. Take SR 417 south two exits to Moss Park Rd. Follow the road east to its end. Alternatively, for a non-toll route, from Interstate 4 exit 81, follow W Michigan St to SR 15 south. Follow SR 15 through Conway across SR 436 (Semoran Blvd) and SR 551 (Goldenrod Blvd) through Vista East. Pass under SR 528. Turn left on Moss Park Rd and follow it for 4.6 miles
On either route, note that Moss Park Rd makes a 90-degree less than a half mile east of SR 417. Follow the road, which narrows, to its very end, which leads right to the park gate.
Once inside the gates, follow the park road towards the campground. The primary trailhead, with direct access to Split Oak Forest, is on the right just after you start the one-way section of road looping the campground.
Technically, the Florida Trail inside the gates of Moss Park starts at the gate to the Swamp Trail, which leads to Split Oak Forest WEA.
Most hikers, however, will start out from the trailhead provided along the campground loop just before the camp host campsite.
A prominent FNST sign adjoins it. Look for the first blaze back along the dirt road you came in on to the trailhead.
Passing the turnoff into a portion of the campground where a bathhouse and accessible campsites are located, it edges beneath the live oaks.
Crossing the campground exit road, keep to the right side of the unpaved park road, following the blazed trees past a picnic area and playground in the distance.
A quarter mile into the walk, turn right at the next forest road, which is marked with a blaze and FNST symbol. It makes a beeline towards Lake Mary Jane before a sharp left.
Walking across this grassy expanse, aim for the large live oak adjoining a covered picnic pavilion, Pavilion 5. Blazes on the tree indicate a right turn past it.
The trail slips between some tall pines before coming to the south end of the former Bear Island Nature Trail at a half mile. It has now been supplanted by the Florida Trail.
A side trail to the right runs up to the marshy lake edge, but the informational sign and blazes point to the trail into the woods on the left.
The path is broad and covered in pine duff, easy for families to traverse with children. Lake Mary Jane is visible through the pines to the right.
Curving around a narrow fern-filled slough, the trail parallels it towards the lake, makings a U-shaped arc towards the lake and back again.
Once it returns to the pines and oaks, it is edged by mature saw palmetto and winds along through them, curving past the group campsite circle.
This section of the trail is its most scenic part. Since the understory is maintained by prescribed burns, we encountered it in a very crispy state.
Watch for a prominent pine trunk with a split in it and a piece of flashing. That’s a catface, where the pine was cut open perhaps a century ago to be tapped for turpentine.
A mile into the hike, the trail passes under an archway of oak branches flanked by tall saw palmetto and emerges at the original trailhead for the Bear Island Nature Trail.
There is still a sign here and a small parking area for its trailhead. The orange blazes lead to the park road, crossing it very soon after.
After the crossing, it follows a forest road posted “No Vehicles.” From the looks of the surrounding forest, this is the original campground for Moss Park, now abandoned.
Numbered posts are in place, along with hookups and even a bathhouse, so it feels almost ghostly to walk through. The trail makes a sharp left in front of the old bathhouse.
Leading under a low canopy of floodplain trees, it makes an arc past more old, numbered campsites with Lake Hart visible through the trees beyond them.
Old stands of bamboo add to the unusual atmosphere. At 1.3 miles, the trail emerges to a paved parking circle for a picnic area and access to Lake Hart, crossing it to the median.
On the median, it tunnels between ancient live oaks on a built-up path crossing over drainage culverts. You walk right within view of the Lake Hart boat ramp and the picnic tables near it.
Soon after, watch as the blazes encourage you to follow the edge of the road out of this parking circle. They lead up to the main park road, with the entrance station and historic Moss Park marker to the left.
This is not where you exit the park, however. Cross the park road and continue straight ahead towards the picnic area on Lake Mary Jane.
The orange blazes lead right past the restrooms and out to the edge of the lakeshore before making a sharp left turn towards the canal.
The final stretch of trail in the park parallels the canal that boaters use to get between the two lakes.
It offers a view into the marshes and floodplain forest beyond, along with some benches.
Cross the Lake Hart boat ramp and follow the concrete walkway as it parallels the canal and emerges right by the entrance sign for Moss Park.
Turn around here for a round-trip hike of 3.4 miles back to the trailhead, or cut off a quarter mile by meeting the blazes again on the other side of the entrance station.
If you are walking the entire linear route between Split Oak and Crosby Marsh, you’ll need to turn right and cross the canal on the highway bridge.
Moss Park Road is very narrow, so be cautious of cars on the walk along the edge of the road for 0.2 miles to meet the next piece of trail at Crosby Island Marsh Preserve.
Learn more about Moss Park and the future Florida Trail Orlando corridor
On a breezy isthmus between Lake Hart and Lake Mary Jane, Moss Park offers superb campsites and picnic pavilions under moss-draped live oaks.
See our photos of the Florida Trail at Moss Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
A live oak tree more than 200 years old is the centerpiece of Split Oak Forest, a 2,000-acre prairie and scrub preserve near Orlando, home to families of sandhill cranes
On an isthmus between floodplain marshes in eastern Orange County, Crosby Island Marsh Preserve provides an easy walk through a ribbon of sandhill habitat.
Providing access to the floodplain forest along Lake Mary Jane, the Green Trail is one of two separate trails through the 550-acre Isle of Pine Preserve.