Best known for its pleasant campground and lakefront picnic pavilions, Moss Park has a number of features that take a more practiced eye to discover.
Edged by two major lakes, it is rimmed with floodplain forests that attract many birds, particularly during the winter months.
While the orange-blazed hiking route through the park is now obvious, a lesser-known trail involves following QR codes through the woods for orienteering.
Add in the well-loved playgrounds, classic picnic shelters, and easy walk-through access to Split Oak Forest WEA, and you’ll find it a destination worthy of a weekend or a full-day visit.
Resources for exploring the area around Moss Park
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Trailhead: 28.3820737, -81.189728
Address: 12901 Moss Park Rd, Orlando
Fees: $1 per pedestrian/cyclist. $3 for 1-2 passengers, $5 for up to 8 passengers.
Restroom: Provided at most picnic areas and at the campground
Land manager: Orange County
Moss Park is open summer 8-8, winter 8-6. No alcohol or pets permitted.
Campers must reserve in advance online. Camping $18 for Orange County residents, $23 for non-residents. 25% discount for ages 55+ and active military.
Call directly for pavilion and group camping reservations.
Moss Park is roughly 20 miles east of downtown Orlando. Toll roads provide the easiest access: from Interstate 4 follow SR 528 east past the Orlando International Airport. Take SR 417 south two exits to Moss Park Rd. Follow the road east to its end. Alternatively, for a non-toll route, from Interstate 4 exit 81, follow W Michigan St to SR 15 south. Follow SR 15 through Conway across SR 436 (Semoran Blvd) and SR 551 (Goldenrod Blvd) through Vista East. Pass under SR 528. Turn left on Moss Park Rd and follow it for 4.6 miles.
On either route, note that Moss Park Rd makes a 90-degree less than a half mile east of SR 417. Follow the road, which narrows, to its very end, which leads right to the park gate.
About the Park
Despite many visitor’s assumptions, the park is not named for the strands of Spanish moss hanging from the ancient live oak trees found throughout Moss Park.
Few people note the granite memorial except on the way out of the park, in the island behind the toll station, but it notes Moss Park is named Sarah-Frances Moss Park, “in loving memory of our mother and daughter.”
Special places like Moss Park often come into the public trust thanks to special people, and in this case, the Moss family provided this “land between the lakes” as a legacy to us all.
One of the constants on every visit here? Sandhill cranes. They stalk their meals beneath the live oak canopy, walk the marshy lake shorelines, and ramble through the campground.
Alligators, too, are a presence in Lake Mary Jane, so former swimming beaches are now closed to that purpose.
But birding along those shores, and along the canal connecting Lake Mary Jane and Lake Hart, can be very fruitful.
Picnic shelters are numerous, both large roofed shelters as well as smaller ones and even a screened pavilion.
Picnic tables are scattered throughout the park under the oaks. Lesser used ones are near the boat ramp for Lake Hart.
Volleyball courts can be found close to the main picnic area and near the campground, not far from the playgrounds.
Two sets of restrooms are provided in the main picnic area and near the playground between Pavilion 5 and 6, as well as at the campgrounds.
The campground at Moss Park features 54 spaces along a one-way loop. The campground is located at the very end of the road, the farthest point away from the front gate.
Campers have easy access to two bathhouses via paved trails, with some campsites explicitly set up for handicapped access.
With few exceptions, the campsites are shaded and wooded. Some are tucked right into the pine forest, or under the canopy of the live oaks.
Sites have graded or paved slabs, picnic tables, and grills or fire rings. Some are better for tents than others. Tents may be pitched on the grass.
The loop around the campground is unpaved, and can be bumpy in a few places. You’ll find the camp host on the right, just past the hiking trailhead along the one-way loop.
A boat dock and fishing pier are within an easy walk, but was closed for repairs on our most recent visit.
Kiosks along the pathways erected as Eagle Scout projects are a reminder of the park’s long service to youth groups.
Separate from the main campground, five distinct group campsites are set aside for youth and other groups for fellowship, with a group campfire available to all near Pavilion 5.
The orange blazes of a future route of the Florida Trail thread through the park, overlaid in part atop the Bear Island Nature Trail.
It stretches between the gate to the Swamp Trail to Split Oak Forest and the front gate of Moss Park along a well-marked 1.7-mile route.
A 1.4-mile round-trip to Split Oak Forest, the Swamp Trail is also blazed orange. It leads through the marshes that connect the two lakes, and it sometimes floods.
From the front gate of Moss Park, it’s a 0.2 mile walk up the road to a walk-through stile into more orange-blazed hiking in adjacent Crosby Island Marsh Preserve.
Overlaid in part on the scenic Bear Island Nature Trail, orange blazes lead across Moss Park to connect hikers with adjoining Split Oak Forest and nearby Crosby Island Marsh.
In addition to the dock, the park has two boat ramps just inside the front gate. At the time of our visit, the ramp closest to Lake Mary Jane was still undergoing rehabilitation.
Turn right when you enter the park to follow the loop around to the other ramp on the canal, which sits closest to Lake Hart.
Both ramps can be used for put-in of canoes and kayaks. Be aware that the lakes have a large surface area, which means the wind kicks up easily.
Paddlers will want to stick to the shorelines and near marshes close to the canal, where sightings of alligators should be expected.
Fishing is encouraged along the canal, the pier near the campground, and the shoreline near the picnic area.
All anglers must have a valid Florida freshwater fishing license and follow posted rules.
While bicycles are not permitted through the gate to the Swamp Trail, we saw no restrictions posted for cyclists along the orange blazes throughout the park.
All park roads, paved and unpaved, are open to cyclists. Campers may find bicycles the easiest way to get around to various corners of the park.
See our photos from Moss Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
A live oak tree more than 200 years old is the centerpiece of Split Oak Forest, a 2,000-acre prairie and scrub preserve near Orlando, home to families of sandhill cranes
On an isthmus between floodplain marshes in eastern Orange County, Crosby Island Marsh Preserve provides an easy walk through a ribbon of sandhill habitat.
Providing access to the floodplain forest along Lake Mary Jane, the Green Trail is one of two separate trails through the 550-acre Isle of Pine Preserve.