Established in 1870 as a planned community complete with a grid of streets that included many full blocks as community green space, Sanford is one of the region’s older cities, with a historic downtown right along the St. Johns River. Sanford once served as a final destination for steamships coming up the north-flowing St. Johns from Jacksonville, since the extensive marshes just upriver proved too shallow for most boat traffic.
The city itself extends far beyond its original boundaries to encompass a large piece of Seminole County along the river, towards its confluence with the Wekiva River to the north and to Lake Jesup to the east. Paddlers do ply Lake Monroe, but the Wekiva River is far more popular and reachable from two put-ins at parks off SR 46.
As a great deal of river floodplain has been set aside as natural lands, residents have a surprising variety of destinations to explore on foot and by bike. A portion of the peninsula-spanning Florida Coast to Coast Trail, a paved bike path, crosses one corner of the city, and the Florida Trail, our 1,400 mile National Scenic Trail, passes through Sanford atop existing paths.
Trails and Parks Around Sanford
Best Hikes Near Sanford
Trot out your sense of adventure for an immersion into one of the wildest trails you’ll find near Orlando, the 7.1-mile loop in the Black Bear Wilderness Area in Sanford.
Explore the Wekiva River and Black Water Creek floodplains on this lengthy loop hike in Seminole State Forest
Recent Additions and Updates
For more than a decade, I’ve been chasing sunflower blooms in Florida wetlands in October. In 2021, it’s a banner year for these showy beauties in Central Florida.
In September, swamp sunflowers put on a colorful show along the St. Johns River between Sanford and Geneva, north of Orlando. Here’s where to take a hike to find them.