One of the most popular destinations for outdoor recreation in the Orlando metro area, Little-Big Econ State Forest protects more than 9,500 acres along the floodplain of the Econlockhatchee River as it flows through lush forests towards vast marshes where it meets the St. Johns River. With extensive trail systems dedicated to specific uses and several multi-use trails, it provides easy access to nature and a buffer between suburbia and rural lands in Seminole County.
Location: Little-Big Econ State Forest spans between Oviedo, Geneva, and Chuluota
Fees/Permits: $2 per person fee applies at Barr Street, Snow Hill Equestrian, and Jones East trailheads.
Hunting is permitted only in the Kilbee and Culpepper Tracts. Paddlers and hikers are advised to check hunt season dates and to follow protocol of wearing bright orange clothing if spending time in these areas during hunting season.
Activities by Map
Named in Muscogee, Econlockhatchee means “river of many mounds,” as evidenced by the middens found along the lower banks of this usually-placid river. It is a floodplain river, which means heavy rainfall in the region will cause the waters to rise quickly, making all trails – land and water – unsafe. The scouring nature of these floodplain events created significant bluffs, oxbow ponds, and dry side channels, which provided a place to perch hiking and biking trails to optimize scenic views and surprisingly rugged terrain.
Nineteen miles of the Econlockhatchee River winds through the forest, with take-out points at the eight mile mark and immediately after the river joins the St. Johns floodplain at Puzzle Lake. The hiking-only Florida Trail traverses more than 12 miles of the forest, drawing backpackers to two designated backcountry campsites. You’ll find the parking area at Jones East packed on weekends as mountain bikers enjoy 7 miles of loops through places like the Ditch of Doom. Dedicated equestrian trails form loops through the northern portion of the forest. Open to all users, the linear Flagler Trail follows the route of the first rail line to traverse this part of Florida.
Explore the Forest
- Culpepper Bend - One of the lesser-known trails of Little Big Econ State Forest, Culpepper Bend leads you to a panorama where the Econlockhatchee River meets the St. Johns River
- Flagler Trail South - Following a historic railroad route, the southern portion of the Flagler Trail provides a sometimes rugged, sometimes gentle ride between Geneva and Chuluota
- Florida Trail, Little Big Econ State Forest - One of the most beautiful hikes near Orlando is rugged, too: the Florida Trail atop bluffs above the Econlockhatchee River through Little-Big Econ State Forest.
- Florida Trail, Mills Creek - As the Florida Trail follows the curve of the basin in which Mills Creek into a bowl of marshlands, enjoy old-growth trees and long boardwalks along this 2 mile hike
- Little-Big Econ Kolokee Loop - A loop hike in Little Big Econ State Forest, the 4.7-mile Kolokee Loop shows off the best facets of the Florida Trail along the Econlockhatchee River.
- Hiking the Econ from Lockwood (11/13/2014) - Andy and Tina take a ramble through Little-Big Econ State Forest along the Florida Trail from Lockwood Blvd in Oviedo towards Barr Street.
- Hiking Flagler Trail South (10/20/2014) - Andy and Tina enjoy a hike north on the Flagler Trail South, walking through lush palm hammocks from Snow Hill Road trailhead to explore around the Econlockhatchee River
- Trail Maintenance Along the Econ River (10/13/2014) - Andy and Tina join the Central Chapter Crew (CCC) for a day to understand how trail maintenance gets done along the Florida Trail in Central Florida
- Hiking along a flooded Econlockhatchee (10/7/2014) - Andy and Tina explore the Florida Trail north from Barr Street along a flooded Econlockhatchee River, and discover an unusual spider with a zigzag pattern in its web
- Hiking Little Big Econ at Snow Hill (9/6/2014) - Andy and Tina take a wander through Little Big Econ State Forest starting at the equestrian trailhead near the forest office and leading to the river itself
- Hiking along the Econlockhatchee River from Snow Hill Rd (5/23/2014) - A wildlife-rich experience by one of our readers while hiking along the Econlockhatchee River makes you want to just get outside!
- Cross Seminole County (2/13/2013) - JK finishes up his last Florida Trail miles in Seminole County as he continues to fill in the blanks on a section hike of the statewide Florida Trail.
- The Spirit of Place (1/10/2013) - Walking through the most ancient of Florida's forests, the feeling that landscape has a spirit persists, especially when contrasted with places where habitat has been permanently destroyed.