Our first visit to Fox Lake Sanctuary was very soon after the preserve opened its trails. They were quite rough through the palmettos and bayheads.
We used the map at the main kiosk to put together this route at the north end of the trail system. This North Loop hits the high points at both Fox Lake and South Lake.
In between, it treats you to a spectrum of habitats from lakeside soggy to high and dry.
Resources for exploring the surrounding area
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Length: 3.6 mile loop
Trailhead: 28.5886, -80.8746
Address: 4400 Fox Lake Rd, Titusville
Restroom: Near Pavilion I in Fox Lake Park
Land manager: Brevard County
Open 7 AM to dusk. Pets are not permitted. Insect repellent is a must. Trails may be soggy or under water after a rain.
Snap a photo of the trail map at the kiosk before setting out on the trail system. Trail maps are posted at major named trail intersections, but some are faded from the sun.
From Interstate 95 exit 215 in Titusville, take SR 50 east to the major traffic light at SR 405. Turn left. Drive north on SR 405 for 2.2 miles. Turn left at the traffic light for Fox Lake Rd. Follow it to where it ends at Fox Lake Park. Turn right and follow the one-way road through the park. When it turns away from the boat ramp, look for the trailhead kiosk against the trees near Pavilion I.
Start your hike at the trailhead kiosk. All trails share this common entrance to the preserve. The footpath is well beaten down by use.
Winding between tall pines, it drops down through a wetland on a boardwalk, climbs up along a fenceline, and snakes through old-growth saw palmetto.
After 0.2 mile it emerges from a tunnel of vegetation to the wide open flatwoods and a trail junction with a map. The Orange Trail and Wetlands Trail turn left. Turn right.
Leading into a corridor of ferns within the shade of the bayhead near Fox Lake, the trail pops out into an open area where scrub and scrubby flatwoods meet.
Curving right, it heads downhill towards the lake, then makes a sharp left to tunnel into the bayhead.
The canopy above is of loblolly bay, the understory dense with saw palmetto. There are roots underfoot and, in early summer, lots of blossoms overhead.
After 0.6 mile, you come to a trail junction with a map. This is the return route of the Wetlands Trail coming in from the left. Continue straight ahead.
The trail creeps closer to the lake. Soon after, the trail pops out under the pines, with cushy pine duff underfoot.
Passing a triple-trunked loblolly bay, the trail turns right and briefly drops into a trough.
Reaching a major junction for the trail system at 0.8 mile, you’ll find another trail map. Take the trail on the right to stay on the perimeter of the loop.
The trail jogs close to the lake, and eventually opens up to a view of Fox Lake at the kayak landing.
Tunneling back into bayhead, the marshy edge of the lake is visible before the trail finally turns away from it, heading north.
Skimming the edge of the pine flatwoods, the trail works it way back under the shade of the oaks and loblolly bay.
Ferns thrive in the damp understory, including a natural bowl of netted chain fern. Spaghnum moss grows everywhere.
Making a left at the next intersection after 1.1 miles, you enter the open pine flatwoods that make up the core of the preserve.
Crossing a sand road, you see a couple of yellow markers on a tree branch. While panoramic, this section offers little shelter.
Look underfoot for the little things, like wildflowers and a gopher tortoise burrow near the base of a slash pine.
Crossing the next sand road, the trail continues through the open flatwoods. Make a left at the next junction marker and map.
The trail makes a beeline towards Moss Point, leading into another bayhead before popping out into the flatwoods again.
Crossing a firebreak, you can see the glimmer of a lake to the left. That’s South Lake, at the north end of the preserve.
After another stretch of pine flatwoods, the terrain changes. Walking through a stand of cabbage palms is like walking through a portal.
The trail leads you into tall prairie grasses. Planks bridge a series of boggy spots in the wettest part of the prairie. Deer’s-tongue grows to surprising heights.
A little elevation means a return to the pine flatwoods. Crossing the next sand road, continue straight towards the bayhead in the distance.
When you reach it, the trail loses elevation sharply. You see what looks like the edge of a shoreline through the trees. Live oaks have bromeliads in their limbs.
At 2.1 miles, you reach Moss Point. It’s an apt description for this beauty spot, the prettiest point in the preserve so far. Spanish moss hangs thickly from the oaks.
Leaving Moss Point, the trail tunnels through the oak hammock, over the “gatorback” roots of the saw palmetto while paralleling the lakeshore.
It offers sporadic views across the lake. A long boardwalk spans a hydric hammock along the lake.
Rising to higher ground amid pines and oaks at the south end of South Lake, the trail leaves the lakeshore behind.
Making a sharp right to start a series of zigzags through the saw palmetto, the trail reaches the junction for the Youth Camp and South Lake Landing at 2.6 miles.
The side trail leads out to South Lake one last time. Follow the yellow blazes back into the open pine flatwoods at the center of the preserve.
Crossing a sand road, you quickly reach the next junction. Continue straight ahead, crossing more stretches of bog bridge in the open prairie.
By 2.8 miles, you’ve reached a familiar intersection. Continue straight ahead through the bayhead, emerging within sight of Fox Lake at 3.2 miles.
Turn right and follow the yellow markers along the edge of the scrub and bayhead back past the junction with the Wetland Trail and up to the initial trail junction.
Continue straight ahead past the trail map. Emerge at the trailhead kiosk in Fox Lake Park after 3.6 miles.
Learn more about the trails at Fox Lake Sanctuary
See our photos from the North Loop at Fox Lake Sanctuary
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Culminating at a breezy observation platform with a panorama of marshy South Lake, this easy Titusville hike is both short and scenic
Circling the central pine flatwoods of the uplands between the lakes of Salt Lake WMA, the 4.1-mile Salt Lake Hiking Trail is a great birding destination
On this 1.5-mile loop atop a scrub ridge in the southeast corner of Buck Lake Conservation Area, watch for a flash of blue- Florida scrub-jays are found here.