Straddling an ancient shoreline in the heart of an urban landscape, Shadow Bay Park is a rare slice of habitat and a refuge for endangered species.
Its network of trails offers multiple ways to explore the unique scrub habitat, including a paved loop and sandy footpaths.
A variety of recreational opportunities are popular at this park including tennis, pickleball, basketball, fishing, and a playground.
Resources for exploring the area
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Length: 2.5 mile loop
Trailhead: 28.490497, -81.480822
Address: 5100 Turkey Lake Rd, Orlando
Land manager: Orange County
Open 8 AM – 8 PM summer, 8 AM – 6 PM winter. Leashed dogs permitted.
From Interstate 4 at S Kirkman Rd in Orlando, head north on S Kirkman Rd for 1.2 miles before turning left onto Conroy Rd. In one mile, make a left onto Turkey Lake Rd, then turn right in 0.2 mile at the park entrance on Oak Knoll Rd. Continue for a quarter mile to the parking area near the trailhead.
Starting at the parking area, follow a concrete sidewalk paralleling the road for a tenth of a mile towards a covered kiosk.
This signage displays information about the rare habitats and restoration projects taking place on the property.
Turn right, where a gently winding pathway leads down a corridor lined with dense shrubs and saw palmettos.
The trail splits at 0.2 mile, providing an option to stay on the sidewalk or follow an unpaved path through a forest of sand pine.
Leaving the concrete, a sandy, pine-straw strewn trail weaves through surprisingly shaded scrub habitat.
Clusters of fetterbush stand alongside closely related rusty lyonia, both of which sport small bell-shaped flowers in the cooler months.
In late summer through winter, goldenrod, blazing stars, and honeycombhead wildflowers attract pollinators with a dazzling mix of vibrant yellow and purple blooms.
Hog plums and silk bay add to the impressive mix of native vegetation as the trail cuts through scrub habitat for 0.4 mile before rejoining the sidewalk loop.
The paved pathway curves around Shadow Bay Pond, reaching a fishing dock in 0.6 mile where a secondary loop on the north end of the park becomes an option.
To finish the sidewalk loop, continue for 0.1 mile before turning left and crossing a road to the parking area.
To access the north loop, make a left at the fishing dock where a sidewalk leads through woods for 0.1 mile to the ranger station.
A sign marks the entrance. A difference in terrain is immediately evident.
The pathway descends quickly before climbing an ancient sand dune covered with Florida rosemary.
Distinctive patches of scrub lupine dot the hilly landscape, easily recognizable by the fuzzy sage-colored leaves and showy pink inflorescence in the spring.
A one-mile loop can be put together from crisscrossed unmarked paths leading through this unique habitat before following the trail back to the fishing dock.
Hiking Shadow Bay Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Bill Frederick Park
Inside the city of Orlando, the urban Bill Frederick Park has a wild side, too, with more than 2 miles of trails to meander through scrub forest and along Turkey Lake.
A wildlife haven within earshot of Walt Disney World, Tibet-Butler Preserve provides 3.6 miles of well-kept and gentle hiking trails for family fun
Oakland Nature Preserve
Protecting more than 128 acres along Lake Apopka, Oakland Nature Preserve offers an accessible boardwalk through marshes to the lake and uplands trails to explore
Historic Babb Landing
Take an easy walk to Shingle Creek at Historic Babb Landing along a family-friendly trail with great opportunities for birding and outdoor play.