One of the most scenic places to hike in the Orlando metro, Little-Big Econ State Forest offers a loop hike that starts less than a mile from the Barr Street trailhead. Named the Kolokee Loop after a turn-of-the-century railroad town along the Florida East Coast Railway, the hike encompasses both the best section of the Florida Trail – the most scenic portion along the Econlockhatchee River between Barr Street and the bridge over the Econ at the Flagler Trail – and a ramble through upland areas above the river.
Length: 4.7 miles
Lat-Long: 28.687403, -81.159278
Fees / Permits: parking fee
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Bug factor: moderate to high
CAUTION: The Econlockhatchee River is a floodplain river. If the river is high, the trail will flood in many places, including the side channels. Do not attempt this hike if water is flowing across the trail at any point.
From downtown Oviedo, follow Geneva Dr (CR 426) east towards Geneva. The trailhead is on the right not long after you pass Lockwood Blvd.
Starting at the Barr Street trailhead, follow the white blazes through a dense, humid hammock of cabbage palms and large live oaks festooned in resurrection fern. Watch your footing, as it’s rooty underfoot. You reach the orange blazes of the Florida Trail after 0.2 mile. Turn left and cross the bridge over Salt Creek. The trail turns right and parallels the creek as it flows down to the Econlockhatchee River, where there is a primitive campsite with fire ring established on the bluff. Turn left to follow the orange blazes along the river bluffs. The river bluff forest is quite lush, dense with cabbage palms and magnolia trees.
The trail works its way around tributaries flowing into the Econ by leading you to higher ground, including along the edge of a large grassy field with a forest road. Following the edge of a tributary, you’ll see three cabbage palms down in the ditch, their trunks crossed over each other in an interesting formation. By 0.9 mile, you reach the white blazes where the Kolokee Loop starts. Turn left at the LE 32 sign and follow the blazes into the uplands. This forest of oaks and pines was significantly damaged by the hurricanes of 2004-2005 and there are now gaping holes in the canopy where there was once shade.
The loop ends at the Flagler Trail, which comes in from the left from Geneva Wilderness Area. Turn right and follow the Flagler Trail down to the Econlockhatchee River, where the big bridge marks the intersection of trails. Turn right to follow the orange blazes of the Florida Trail back along the river for the next 1.4 miles, as it snakes around tributaries and clings closely to the bluffs in many places, some of which are a bit crumbly – watch your footing. You close the loop as you pass the LE 32 sign for a second time, this time on your right. Continue along the orange blazes back to Salt Creek, turning right on the white blazed connector trail to exit to the Barr Street parking area.