Discovering Lake Monroe Park while we lived in nearby Sanford opened our eyes to the amount of outdoor recreation available in southwest Volusia County.
First, it had the nearest public campground to where we lived, a rarity in the Orlando metro. While small, it has welcoming shaded spaces.
Next, the launch. Boaters find it essential, as it gets you right into the St. Johns River at the north end of the lake, making for easy exploration in either direction.
For us, the trails. While they are on adjacent lands called the Gemini Addition, the trailhead at the back end of Lake Monroe Park provides easy access and a restroom.
Our resources for exploring the area
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Trailhead: 28.8410, -81.3226
Address: 975 US 17-92, DeBary
Fees: Free. Boat launch fee $2
Restroom: Near the launch and at the trailhead
Land manager: Volusia County Parks
Open sunrise to sunset. Fishing is permitted from the floating docks.
The Spring to Spring Trail is accessible. No motorized vehicles allowed.
From Interstate 4 westbound, take Exit 104 and turn north on US 17-92. From Interstate 4 eastbound, exit at Exit 104 onto US 17-92 north. From downtown Sanford, follow US 17-92 north to the Interstate 4 interchange. Just north of the interchange is Lake Monroe Wayside Park on the right. Continue past it another half mile to the Lake Monroe Park entrance on the right, the first turn in north of the St. Johns River.
About the Park
On 33 wooded acres adjoining where the former narrow highway bridge over the St. Johns River once crossed, Lake Monroe Park has a little something for everyone.
Bring a picnic and sit at a sheltered picnic bench along the breezy shoreline, watching boats pass by between the river and its largest lake.
There’s a playground for the kids, and they’ll enjoy a nature walk along the boardwalk into the cypress swamp, too.
Boaters launch into a protected basin outside the main flow of the river. Overnight boater parking is permitted.
While we haven’t tried it ourselves, you could launch a kayak here and paddle along the near shoreline eastbound along the lake towards DeBary Bayou.
Because of boater traffic and open water, heading into the main channel or down the river probably isn’t a good idea except for the most experienced paddlers.
The trailhead at the back of Lake Monroe Park offers direct access to the south segment of the Spring to Spring Trail.
While the trailhead is essentially the southern terminus for this countywide trail system, the trail itself now passes right through Lake Monroe Park to connect to Seminole County.
This extension paralleling US 17-92 across the river is part of the Florida Coast to Coast Trail, meeting up with the Cross Seminole Trail at Lake Monroe Wayside Park on the south shore.
Riders looking for an easy out-and-back will appreciate the Spring to Spring route leading north to Gemini Springs and east to Green Springs.
Learn more about these bike paths below.
The trailhead at the back of Lake Monroe Park also offers a great deal of appeal for hikers because the bike path leads to a broad boardwalk through a cypress swamp.
While otherwise paved and accessible, the southernmost portion of the Spring to Spring Trail is ideal for hiking and running, a protected 2.5 linear miles to Gemini Springs Park.
This segment of the Spring to Spring Trail is also known as the Pat Northey Trail, for a local resident who advocated for protection of this natural corridor.
There are many benches along the route as well as picnic tables tucked into the woods, providing destinations for families and folks who want a short walk.
Hikers who prefer to put on bigger miles can use the paved path to interconnect with natural surface trail systems.
Both Gemini Addition and neighboring Gemini Springs Park to its north offer many miles of loop hiking.
Between the two parks and the bike path, you can put together a route of more than ten miles out and back from Lake Monroe Park.
Dig into more details on those trail systems below.
Protecting nearly 950 acres of lush oak hammocks, palm hammocks, and wetlands along the rim of Lake Monroe, Gemini Springs Addition has many options for hikers
The campground at Lake Monroe Park is situated on the park’s highest ground. The new bike path connector for the Florida Coast to Coast Trail circles around its edge.
Pretty much all of the 25 campsites are shaded by the surrounding forest, which also cuts out a little of the road noise from US 17-92.
You will definitely hear boaters and airboats at night. There is also a large power plant north of US 17-92 that can be noisy at times.
Each site has a picnic table, grill, and electric outlet. Tent camping is welcome. A bathhouse with hot showers is provided.
No matter whether you’re tenting or pulling a trailer (maximum 35′), rates are $15 per night plus tax. There is an extra $5 fee if you use their dump station.
For trailers and RVs, use the website link below for their detailed grid of maximum length of each space and where hose bibs and power hookups are located.
Campsites may be rented for up to one week at a time, with a maximum of 30 days per calendar year per camper.
Reservations are necessary. To make reservations, call 386-736-5953 weekdays 8:30-4:30.
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
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.
At Green Springs Park, the shady trails are short but well-groomed, with options for all abilities. It’s an excellent destination for families to enjoy, with connectivity to two major bike trails.
Florida’s best place to see a Florida scrub-jay up close is Lyonia Preserve, with 2.2 miles of loops through the highest ground in Volusia County.