Essential to the nationally-designated Wekiva Wild and Scenic River System, Wekiva River Buffer Preserve and the Charles Lee Sabal Point Sanctuary protect over 2,500 acres.
Along an old logging tramway, a 1.7 mile linear trail tunnels into an iconic floodplain forest where the Wekiva River and Little Wekiva River meet.
Resources for exploring the area
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Length: 3.4 mile round-trip
Trailhead: 28.711818, -81.410133
Address: 404 Wilderness Dr, Longwood, FL 32779
Land managers: Audubon Society, St. Johns Water Management District
Open dawn to dusk. Leashed dogs permitted. Bicycles allowed.
Bug protection is highly recommended, due to high numbers of biting flies and mosquitos.
From Interstate 4 in Altamonte Springs, head west on SR 434 for 0.8 mile, then turn right onto Wekiva Springs Rd. In 0.9 mile, make a right at Sabal Palm Dr S. Take an immediate left onto W Sabal Palm Dr, and continue for 1.2 miles before turning left at Wilderness Dr. The entrance is at the end of the road in 0.2 mile.
Starting at the trailhead, a small dirt pathway leads behind a concrete wall to an information kiosk. This covered display provides details about the property, and a basic map.
The lush jungle-like nature of this landscape is immediately apparent while following a leaf-strewn pathway under a canopy of cabbage palms, hickory, and tall sweetgum trees.
Huge palm fronds extend towards the trail in gentle bends, hovering over a dense border of ferns.
Showy blossoms of lyreleaf sage, ironweed, and violets sprinkle the forest floor with splashes of purple against a vibrant green backdrop.
The trail bends to the right for a short jog before following a straight line at 0.2 mile.
In this subtropical environment, a keen eye can spot epiphytic orchids in certain trees, several feet in the air.
Growing among branches carpeted with ball moss and resurrection ferns, these orchids produce striking blooms in the warmer months.
A cacophony of birds call to each other from the overstory.
The high-pitched tweets of cardinals accent laughter-like chirps of red-bellied woodpeckers and the “peter-peter-peter” songs of the tufted titmouse.
Continuing northward, pine trees become more prevalent as the trail crosses Hog Island, an island of mesic flatwoods.
Descending slightly from the pine island, the surrounding terrain quickly becomes soggier as the trail passes a bench alongside a small pond.
Slow moving tannic waters and thick mud surround the elevated tram road as it extends further into the floodplain forest.
Reaching one mile, the trail leaves Audubon property, entering the adjacent Wekiva River Buffer Preserve.
Cabbage palms of all sizes inch closer to the path as cypress join the diverse mix of trees, with distinctive knees protruding from soft soils alongside the berm.
In 0.7 miles, a gate crossing the pathway indicates the trail’s end. From this point, retrace your steps up the tramway.
Catch glimpses of songbirds and unique plants you may have missed on the way in, ending your hike at the trailhead after 3.4 miles.
A walk through Sabal Point Sanctuary
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
A leisurely float downriver from Wekiwa Springs provides paddlers an immersion in the beauty of a Wild and Scenic River teeming with wildlife.
At Lake Lotus Park in Altamonte Springs, the 1.7-mile trail system along Lake Lotus and the Little Wekiva River floodplain provides a great respite from surrounding suburbia.
A massive wilderness area on the edge of the Orlando metro, Wekiwa Springs State Park is centered on a first-magnitude spring that pours forth a river lined with jungle-like vegetation