Along DeBary Bayou and the northwest rim of Lake Monroe, Gemini Addition Conservation Area dates back to the construction of Interstate 4.
This 948 acres was set aside to replace the wetlands destroyed along the lake’s edge to put the interstate through.
While a great deal of it is marshy, there are dense palm hammocks and uplands with grand old live oaks.
Pine flatwoods and maple swamps come together, providing habitat for creatures great and small.
A ribbon of pavement, the Spring to Spring Trail, slices through it, providing access to a network of nature trails. Some are mowed, others are blazed with blue markers.
Managed by St. Johns River Water Management District until 2017, the preserve is now under the auspices of Volusia County as one of its natural lands.
It is sandwiched between two Volusia County Parks – Gemini Springs and Lake Monroe – with access best from either end.
There is also a central access point across from the DeBary SunRail station, but our longer, more all-encompassing hike starts at the Gemini Springs North trailhead.
You can trim the overall mileage to 4.5 miles if you start from the middle and skip walking to the trailheads at both ends.
Our resources for exploring the area
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Length: Up to 6.7 miles
Trailhead: 28.856275, -81.321269
Address: 559 S US 17-92, DeBary
Restrooms: At the Gemini Springs South trailhead
Land Manager: Volusia County
Open sunrise to sunset. Trails are shared with cyclists. Dogs are welcome.
You’ll find many benches and picnic tables along the paved route.
As shown on the map, there are several access points off US 17/92 to Gemini Addition. We use the northernmost one, Gemini Springs North trailhead, as the starting point for this hike.
The address listed above is the midpoint, the Gemini Springs West trailhead. It is a grassy parking area under a power line across from the DeBary SunRail station. We understand it may not remain a parking area and the connector trail will eventually be paved.
The Gemini Springs South trailhead is behind Lake Monroe Park off US 17/92.
From the Gemini Springs North trailhead at Dirksen Drive, walk south along the paved path, which is part of the Spring to Spring Trail through Volusia County.
After a brief segment under the power lines within earshot of US 17-92, it turns east and south into a dense floodplain forest in Gemini Springs Park.
The trail is slightly elevated through the floodplain, which is dense with vegetation. You pass a trail leading off to the left towards Gemini Springs.
Around the next bend is another opening to the right. This leads into a clearing under the oaks that serves as a primitive campground.
The paved trail curves back and forth through the live oak hammock, where sunlight streams through the Spanish moss overhead.
Occasionally the trail has a yellow line painted on it, where visibility is low around curves. Pay attention to that, as cyclists may zip around corners quickly.
At 0.6 mile, emerging onto a broad prairie with high-tension lines across it, turn left on the first mowed path.
It’s part of the trail system at Gemini Springs Park, leading along DeBary Bayou to the dam.
Just before you reach the giant fallen live oak along it, turn right to follow another mowed path south.
This path tacks towards an oak hammock along the bayou, then gives you choices.
You can return along the paved path to the west, or continue to the next oak hammock along the bayou.
Each of these hammocks are beauty spots, natural cathedrals of oaks and Spanish moss, and well worth the walk.
Leaving the last hammock, the mowed path swings back towards the paved trail and crosses it at 1 mile into the woods on the other side.
It pops out under the power lines, intersecting the connector trail to the Gemini Springs West trailhead by the SunRail station.
Continue across this path back into the hammock, where the trail zigzags through before emerging under the power line at the paved path. Turn right.
Walking south along the Spring to Spring Trail, you emerge out of the shade into bright sun, with marshes on either side of the path under the power lines.
A parade of seasonal wildflowers keeps the wetlands in a blaze of color. We’ve seen turtles sunning along this section.
When you see the hiker marker on the left near the pines, it signals the start of the upper loop of Gemini Addition, 1.6 miles into the hike.
This loop leads through more oak hammocks with massive live oaks. Reaching a T intersection, turn left.
This mile-long spur and loop is of interest of birders, since it gets close to the bayou.
However, once you reach the edge of the bayou there is a certain sameness to the habitat, and parts of the the trail is often wet.
If it hasn’t not been mowed or it’s been too wet to mow, it simply dead-ends in the marsh.
Return from it and head in the opposite direction at the T to continue along the loop. The trail emerges at a man-made wetland.
Walk counterclockwise around the wetland, catching a glimpse of Interstate 4 off to the left.
A marker points into the forest on the left soon after, leading you through wet pine flatwoods where big puddles form in the trail.
At 3.5 miles, this footpath reaches the paved Spring to Spring Trail at a 90-degree turn in the paved trail.
To walk to the southern trailhead, continue straight ahead. The path wiggles and curves through the pine flatwoods and oaks before it reaches a broad boardwalk.
The boardwalk crosses a cypress swamp, one of the must-see beauty spots in this preserve, at 4.1 miles.
If you continue past this point, the pavement leads you to Lake Monroe Park, where you’ll find restrooms and a picnic shelter at the Gemini South trailhead.
The most direct return trip to the Gemini North trailhead is 2.5 miles along the paved Spring to Spring Trail to complete a 6.7 mile hike.
See our photos of Gemini Springs Addition
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
With nearly 5 miles of gentle woodland paths and paved trails, playgrounds, picnic area, paddling trail and a dog park, Gemini Springs Park is a popular, well-connected getaway
Centered on a deeply shaded campground with direct access to the St. Johns River for boaters, Lake Monroe Park is a gateway to outdoor adventure
North of Orlando, Black Bear Wilderness Area in Sanford offers some of the best wildlife watching in the region on its loop along the St. Johns River.