Pockets of prehistoric salt water lie deep beneath the marshes of the St. Johns River near Titusville, bubbling up as salt springs.
As a result, the salinity of South Lake, Loughman Lake, and Salt Lake, all interconnected to the river basin, is nearly one-third that of the ocean.
This enables salt-loving plants, marine crustaceans, and saltwater fish to live in and along these waters.
Accessed via a network of blazed forest roads, the 7,800 acres of Salt Lake WMA offers wildlife watching in both uplands and wetlands.
While hunting, particularly during the fall deer season, is a major draw, anglers appreciate the variety of fishing here.
Hikers have two distinct trails to choose from, and cyclists can roam dozens of miles of forest roads.
Resources for exploring the area
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Trailhead: 28.6384, -80.8749
Restroom: Vault toilet at Arch Rd
Land manager: Florida FWC
Open from 90 minutes before sunrise to 90 minutes after sunset. Leashed dogs welcome. Cyclists may only use posted roads and trails.
Check on hunting seasons before you visit. You need to wear bright orange if visiting here during scheduled hunts.
From Interstate 95 exit 223, Mims, drive west on SR 46 for 0.7 mile to Turpentine Rd. Turn left. Follow it north 1.5 miles. It turns right and becomes Panther Lane. After a half mile, Panther Lane turns left and becomes Arch Road, leading right up to the entrance gate and parking area.
About the Preserve
As this landscape is overseen by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, management for wildlife habitat is first and foremost.
The network of forest roads opens to hunters during the fall deer hunting and spring turkey season, but is otherwise mostly vehicle-free.
Recreational uses can hike, bike, paddle, and bring a picnic. While no camping is permitted, several picnic tables are provided.
Open to vehicles, Salt Lake Road terminates at the marshes surrounding the lake. Depending on water levels, you might be able to get to the observation platform.
Expect to see airboaters in this area, as they can access the shallow marshes with ease. Many put in at the far shore of Lake Loughman.
Kayak anglers and paddlers headed for South Lake on the eastern edge of the preserve must put in at Fox Lake Park in Titusville and follow the marked paddling trail to its vast marshy expanse.
Branching off of Powerline Rd, which follows the power lines through the preserve, Bear Bluff Road leads out to the St. Johns River floodplain near Lake Loughman.
The main trailhead at Arch Rd provides access to both of these forest roads by cyclists and hikers. Any of the forest roads can be biked or hiked, but most end as dead-ends into marshes.
Trails at Salt Lake WMA
There are two blazed trails that hikers can tackle. Along white blazes from the main trailhead, the Salt Lake Hiking Trail loops 4.1 miles through the uplands.
From a secondary trailhead in Titusville, the yellow-blazed South Lake Trail leads 0.7 mile to an observation deck along the lake.
We’ve used paralleling forest roads to turn it into a 1.3-mile hiking loop.
See our photos of Salt Lake WMA
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
On this 1.5-mile loop atop a scrub ridge in the southeast corner of Buck Lake Conservation Area, watch for a flash of blue- Florida scrub-jays are found here.
At the northern end of Seminole Ranch Conservation Area, roam 8.4 miles along the marshy eastern shore of Puzzle Lake, part of the St. Johns River system.
At the north end of Seminole Ranch Conservation Area, this 1.4-mile round-trip leads to an observation tower with an extensive panorama across Loughman Lake and Salt Lake.