At the end of a 71-acre peninsula, a former isthmus between Lake Beauclair and Lake Carlton in the Harris Chain of Lakes, Trimble Park is an under-the-radar beauty spot of which Orange County should be quite proud.
Ancient oaks line both shorelines and are the main feature in the primary part of the park, the picnic grove and playground at the end of the road where most visitors gravitate.
A campground that accommodates both group tent camping and trailers or tents is set around a small cove along Lake Carlton, where there are fishing decks and a launch for paddlers.
The 1.3-mile loop trail is the most you can hike around the park. It has many shorter options and is easy for all ages.
Resources for exploring the area around Trimble Park
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Length: 1.2 mile loop
Trailhead: 28.765659, -81.652135
Address: 5802 Trimble Park Rd, Mount Dora
Restroom: At the picnic area and campground
Land manager: Orange County
Open daily 8-8 summer, 8-6 winter. Leashed dogs welcome. Bring insect repellent.
Reservations must be made online for campsites. Use the button at the bottom of this page.
Signs lead you from US 441 at Tangerine to the park. The easiest route to follow from the Orlando area is from the intersection of Lake Ola Drive and US 441. Turn left on Lake Ola Drive and continue not quite a mile to Earlwood Ave. Turn left onto Earlwood Ave, which leads into the rural residential area of Tangerine.
After 0.7 mile, make a right onto Trimble Park Rd. Entering the park, immediately make a right at the park office into the first parking area, which has a boat ramp and restrooms; park near the playground. Most folks use the parking lot at the end of the road deep inside the park, which is an alternative, but parking here gives you an excuse to walk the entire loop trail system from the entrance.
From the boat ramp parking area near Pavilions 2 and 3, walk up to the playground and keep left to head along the trail, a shaded gravel path.
Above you are mature wild citrus trees, dripping with fruit or fragrant blooms at different times of year.
Paralleling the park road, the trail comes to an intersection. Keep right at the fork in the trail.
You reach a bench overlooking the stands of pickerelweed in Lake Beauclair just after you pass another side trail to the left.
Walking a short distance, you encounter two benches waiting for you to sit and watch the birds. There are many.
Red-winged blackbirds fuss, white ibis pick their way up the little beach and down the trail, and a great blue heron stands in deeper water, intent on fishing.
Signage pointing towards the campground indicates you’ve reached the bottom of the loop around the park, and are about to start around its perimeter. Continue straight ahead, passing a picnic table.
Notice how immense the cypresses are along the shoreline of Lake Beauclair. Their limbs attract birds. Look up and you may see ibis or an osprey over your head.
This side of the park seems most abundant in bird life in the morning hours. You hear songbirds in the trees and the chirps and fusses of wading birds in the shallows.
Slipping past an abundance of benches, picnic tables, and even a barbecue grill, don’t forget to be alert for alligators. The shoreline is such a gentle slope that an alligator could easily be sunning in the footpath.
Exotic philodendrons with massive leaves swarm up the ancient oaks as if planted to create a tropical garden across the canopy to the lake’s edge, creating a jungle-like feel.
The trail ascends a berm up above the lake. Cabbage palms tower overhead, and moss-draped oaks arc out over the water.
Headed downslope through a patch of sword fern, you can see the park road off to your left. Keep to the right near the treeline to follow the trail, continuing in the shade of oaks and cabbage palms.
You come to a boat ramp with a little observation deck. It provides a sweeping view down the coast of the peninsula, edged by cypresses thickly laden in Spanish moss.
The path isn’t as obvious beyond this point, so the smart choice is to follow the shoreline. A fishing pier protrudes into the lake, providing perches for great blue herons and anhingas.
Follow the sweep of the lakeshore to a peninsula of the peninsula, a pretty point with benches and swings for contemplating the scenery and a marshy area with many wading birds.
It’s this end of the park where the live oaks are particularly regal, and there are numerous picnic benches and pavilions. Even when bustling with activity, it’s a very nice place to be.
As you walk along this shoreline at the half-mile point, you’re circling around the primary focal point of Trimble Park, the picnic area, playground, and restrooms.
As the shoreline recedes behind a wall of cabbage palms, you reach a junction with a boardwalk coming over from a nearby picnic shelter and a sign, “Nature Trail.”
Continue straight ahead. This corridor is framed by cabbage palms and wild citrus trees. The breeze off the lakes makes this a cool walk, despite the thickness of the understory. There are many roots underfoot, so be cautious of your footing.
Reach two slash pines – one living, one dead – the girth of their bases quite massive. On the left is a tangle of floodplain forest, a swamp with sweetgum and red maple trees. On the right is Lake Beauclair.
At the next trail junction, continue straight ahead. Sunlight dapples through the palm fronds across a bench. There are places you can peek beneath the palms and through the understory for glimpses of the cattail marsh along the lake.
At the next junction, signs say “The Point” to the right and “Boardwalk” to the left. Turn right. Wild coffee grows thickly in the understory, a northwesterly point in its range. Oaks reach out over the lake-edge marsh.
At the T intersection, turn right again to continue to The Point. Here, moss-draped oaks shade the footpath as you come up to The Point.
As the name implies, it’s the end of the peninsula, the meeting place of Lake Beauclair and Lake Carlton through a narrow canal that was dug through this isthmus a long time ago.
It’s not narrow enough to cross, but it’s another fine spot for birding, a bench enticing you to sit and enjoy the breeze.
Returning down this side trail, continue past the trail you came in on. At the trail junction, keep to the right, following the sign that says “Boardwalk.”
You lose elevation as the trail winds through the palm hammock. At the next trail junction, go straight ahead to the boardwalk, which starts beneath a huge live oak.
At 0.9 mile a glider bench sits in the sun, looking out over a profusion of ferns and reeds along the lakeshore. Large cypresses shade this section of the boardwalk. It comes to a beauty spot overlooking Lake Carlton.
Benches sit on an open platform above the water. Dragonflies dance through the air above cypress knees where apple snail eggs shine a pearlescent pink.
At a junction on the boardwalk, cattails crowd close to the trail. Continue straight ahead. Sunlight pours into gaps in the canopy, illuminating marsh ferns, Virginia willow and elephant ear.
Pass another observation deck with benches overlooking Lake Carlton.
Passing another junction in the boardwalk, continue straight ahead. A stand of cypresses shades the end of the boardwalk, which faces a small cove.
Turn left to walk along this cove, past the kayak launch and through the group campground. This primitive camping area is deeply shaded by oaks and provides picnic benches and fire rings for campers.
Pass through the gap in the fence. Circling around the cove, you encounter some fishing platforms with benches above the pea-green cove.
The park’s deeply-shaded campground is on the other side of the cove. At the “camper’s only” sign, keep left to pass through the next fence gap into the parking area for the group sites.
Walk straight ahead and cross the park road. Just down the slope, you rejoin the original route you followed along Lake Beauclair at one of the picnic areas. Turn right.
Following the berm, you get back to the original loop junction. Step off to the left, by the bench, and you’ll see an alternate trail along the lake.
It gives you one last opportunity for birding right on the lakeshore as you walk back to the parking area where you started.
You end up behind the playground, and complete your hike after 1.3 miles.
See our photos of Trimble Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Mt. Dora’s best site for birding is Palm Island Park, accessed by a long boardwalk out to a peninsula along Lake Dora canopied by ancient live oaks and tall palms.
On 230 forested acres on the northern shore of Trout Lake, Trout Lake Nature Center in Eustis offers a fun network of family-friendly interpretive nature trails.
A dedicated driving route through vast wetlands along the Lake Apopka North Shore, Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive is one of Florida’s best birding locations