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, stretching from the edge of the Ocala National Forest to the north to the prairies of Three Lakes WMA in Osceola County to the south.
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.
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FLOODING can be a concern along the St. Johns River floodplain. At times the river and its tributaries may be high enough to inundate the trail past the point where it is safe to wade it. At Bull Creek WMA and in Tosohatchee Reserve, the white-blazed western side of the loop serves as a drier alternate route to the Florida Trail. If you waded into Seminole Ranch north to Wheeler Road, best to roadwalk from the Wheeler Road trailhead to the Joshua Creek trailhead to avoid deep water in Bronson State Forest.
Wear a bright orange shirt or vest during hunting seasons. Check the FWC website for hunting season dates for
* Three Lakes WMA
* Bull Creek WMA
* Tosohatchee Reserve
* Seminole Ranch WMA
* Bronson State Forest
* Seminole State Forest
Fees apply for primitive camping at Tosohatchee, Bronson State Forest, and Seminole State Forest. Seminole State Forest also charges an entrance fee. Obtain permits online or at the trailhead kiosk / main office. Forever Florida allows card-carrying FTA members to use the Tracy Branch campsite if no paying guests are filling it. Call 407-957-9794 before you arrive. You may also pay to reserve a spot. The campsite has shelter, picnic tables, hot showers, potable water, and flush toilets.
While the roadwalk between Bull Creek WMA and Tosohatchee WMA through Deseret Ranch is 30 miles long, discreet camping is possible on the eastern side of Nova Road (north of Deer Park Road) behind clumps of trees. Under no circumstances should you hop any fences in this stretch for camping or water. It is also possible to camp at the Taylor Creek Loop.
Should you have gear issues, there are two outfitters in the Orlando area that can be reached by bus or by foot from where the trail passes through Longwood and Lake Mary: Travel Country Oufitters in Altamonte Springs on SR 436 and REI Winter Park, which is along the bus line you can catch below the bridge over US 17-92.
A quick sampler of the beauty of Bronson State Forest, this walk on the Florida Trail to Bunscombe Creek and back offers a great perspective on summer wildflowers.
Providing a 20.5 mile loop for backpacking amid open pine savannas and prairies, the Florida Trail at Bull Creek WMA is a popular destination.
Enjoy the natural beauty of habitat diversity along this 4.3-mile segment of the Florida Trail connecting Chuluota Wilderness and Bronson State Forest
One of the most beautiful hikes near Orlando is rugged, too: the Florida Trail atop bluffs above the Econlockhatchee River through Little-Big Econ State Forest.
As the Florida Trail follows the curve of the basin in which Mills Creek into a bowl of marshlands, enjoy old-growth trees and long boardwalks along this 2 mile hike
At Seminole Ranch Conservation Area in Christmas, the Florida Trail follows a linear 4.9 mile route through a string of hydric hammocks in the St. Johns River floodplain
A hike on the Florida Trail in Seminole State Forest leads you through the kind of vast, open spaces that you’d never imagine existed so close to Orlando.
At Three Lakes WMA / Prairie Lakes Unit, the Florida Trail traverses one of the largest expanses of open prairie in the Southeast, the Kissimmee Prairie.
Bridging an immense expanse of pine flatwoods bisected by floodplain forests, a 10-mile segment of the statewide Florida Trail crosses Tosohatchee WMA.
Along its 9.4 mile route, the Florida Trail through Seminole Ranch and southern Bronson State Forest provides an unexpected array of botanical delights
Florida Trail Videos (Orlando)
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