While scouting a new route along the trail system at Fox Lake Sanctuary, we were looking for scrub habitat.
We didn’t expect to find a blazed hiking trail off the Orange Trail in the pine flatwoods. And we certainly didn’t expect it to become a wade.
But it turned out to be a lot of fun. It’s the newer of the hiking-only trails in the preserve, and leads you through habitats you won’t see on the North Loop.
We definitely recommend two hiking sticks for tackling this trail when it’s wet. We each only had one and had to proceed very slowly through deeper water.
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Length: 1.7 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 in the far back corner of Fox Lake Park, near the boat launch.
All trails share this common entrance to the preserve. Since it was first established, the trail has been widened and moved closer to the property boundary.
It crosses a pair of boardwalks in a low drainage before scrambling up onto a sand ridge with ancient saw palmetto lining the path.
When it emerges after 0.2 mile at the open pine flatwoods, there is a trail map to the right and a sign that points that way for hiking. Turn left instead.
The worn path passes a junction marked for bicycle and horse use, part of the Orange Trail on the forest roads of the preserve.
Continue due south through the grassy strip adjoining the pines, passing a forest road on the left and a marshy area with a road on the right. Rabbits browse in the tall grass.
A quarter mile after you turned left at the trail map, there is a hiker sign in the pines to the right.
It’s just before a four-way junction of forest roads. Turn right and enter the woods here.
Like the North Loop was when it was new, the path is somewhat rough underfoot, mowed through the dense understory under tall pines.
It zigzags through the saw palmetto and gallberry, and follows what feels like a walkway between planted rows of slash pine.
Where it emerged at a little fern-topped hill, we thought it went to the left of the water below.
Then we saw the yellow diamond marker pointing to the right. The trickling waterway was just barely too wide to step over.
Crossing a forest road at 0.6 mile, follow the markers into a stretch of scrubby flatwoods. The understory here is a solid wall.
It’s a higher and drier stretch, but it doesn’t last very long. And when it ends, it gets quite wet. It emerges at a north-south forest road where water pools in the low areas.
Cross this forest road and the trail immediately turns north to parallel it to the west. Wildflowers are abundant, but so is water.
At 0.9 mile, the yellow diamond markers lead you right across the flooded road. This is where we wished we’d had two hiking sticks each. Wade slowly.
Once across it, the trail slips into a thicket of ferns beneath slash pines. The footpath remains grassy and wet.
Splash on through it and you eventually see why it is so wet here. A large wet prairie sits off to the north, with a tallgrass marsh in the middle of it.
Water spills out of it into the low areas of the trail. The trail eventually climbs up onto higher ground surrounded by bay trees.
Once in a while, it drops into puddles along the path. The footpath is very uneven through this entire section.
Emerging from the trees, the trail meets the Orange Trail at a junction simply marked by a north-south forest road and a sign warning cyclists and equestrians away from this footpath.
No longer soggy, the trail squeezes between the dense undergrowth of scrubby flatwoods as it works its way towards a wall of loblolly bay trees ahead.
At 1.1 miles, the trail reaches the bayhead and comes to a T intersection with the North Loop. A map sign shows you your location. Turn right.
The walk through the bayhead was colorful in June with the many loblolly bay trees sporting blooms. Saw palmetto crowds both sides of the trail.
It is rooty underfoot, so you have to watch your footing. Here and there, panoramas of the pines open up to the west.
The trail emerges into a broad open area with a view of Fox Lake downhill to the left. Turn right and walk uphill along the edge of a scrub forest.
Watch for the marker at the top of the hill pointing left down a narrow corridor on the edge of the bayhead.
This stretch provides nice views of the wildflowers in the scrubby flatwoods, while offering a little shade in the morning.
Wading through a dense carpet of ferns, you come to the map at the junction of the yellow and orange trails with the entrance trail.
Walk past it to follow the trail through the tall saw palmetto and past the fence, over the boardwalks and out to the parking area in Fox Lake Park to complete this 1.7 mile hike.
Learn more about the trails at Fox Lake Sanctuary
Looping between Fox Lake and South Lake, the North Loop at Fox Lake Sanctuary circles 3.6 miles through bayheads, flatwoods, and scrub to a showy peninsula at Moss Point
See our photos from the Wetland Trail 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
Delving deep into the hammocks of North Merritt Island, the Palm Hammock Trail treats you to a lush forest of mature saw palmettos under a dense canopy of live oaks on the way to an island of cabbage palms