10 Hiking Trails in Orlando Worth the Journey
10 Hiking Trails in Orlando Worth the Journey
Head out and about for a hike in the Orlando vicinity, and you might spot a Boat-Tailed Grackle, White Ibis, or Tricolored Heron. You might see some opossums, raccoons, white-tailed deer, and other wild animals. And you might see some Dixie Irises and Black-Eyed Susans.
Yes, Orlando is so much more than the place to go for amusement parks and water rides. Orlando is full of natural, Central Florida wonder.
But where exactly are all the great trails in Orlando, you ask?
To get you out enjoying the herons, deer, and irises, we've put together 10 of our favorite hiking trails in Orlando and near the Orlando area.
Keep reading and get your hiking boots ready to go!
1. Bill Frederick Park's Turkey Lake Nature Trail: 2 Miler
Bill Frederick Park runs along Turkey Lake and is just 10 miles from Orlando's central business district. This means its minutes from all the big attractions. The park is 183 acres, and there's plenty to do, including the two-mile hike.
Technically, the hike is 1. 8 miles, and it's called the Turkey Lake Nature Trail. It's ideal for hikers of all levels and moderately visited. Do a trail run or walk. Do some road biking. Walk your dog. Yes, dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash.
This trail also has plenty of birders. So, be on the lookout for the ibises, herons, and other fabulous winged natives. And just enjoy the view as it's a real nature-lovers paradise.
Turkey Lake is huge for fishing too. In fact, it's in the top five when it comes to fishing in Florida. That means it's ideal for a little after-hike activity. You can also boat and camp here. They have cabins, or you can bring a tent.
2. Wekiwa Springs Hiking Trail: 10.2 Miler
Twenty-five minutes by car north of Orlando, Wekiwa Springs State Park is known for its beautiful springs and the Wekiva River that flows from it. People kayak and canoe on the river and hike around and through the marshy, wild area.
The big hike, the Wekiwa Springs Hiking Trail, is a 10 miler where wilderness abounds. Get ready to see black bears and deer! It's an intricate system of trails and various types of landscape. The difficulty is moderate to high. It gets more difficult as the water level rises.
Expect to see bikers and people on horseback on the trail. And you can bring your dog on a leash. Also look for pines, a swamp, woodpeckers, hickory, wildflowers in spring and fall, sand hills, a lake, turkey oaks, and so much more.
It's a loop, so make sure you have enough time to get all the way around. You can also do shorter hikes at the park, like the Wet-to-Dry Trail. It's near the swim area at the springs. It's easy and just under a half mile.
3. Black Hammock Trail: 4.7 Miler
Just a half hour drive from Orlando's downtown in Oviedo, this hike is a real charm. Why? Cozy tree canopies and shade cover you along the trail. So if you live downtown, this is a great spot to beat the heat and enjoy the quiet.
It's in the preserved 700-acre Black Hammock Wilderness Area near Lake Jessup. Expect to see swamp hardwood, Sand Pine Scrub, and Pine Flatwood, plus the canopy. Look for bobcats, barred owls, white-tail deer, and eastern hognose snakes.
The hike starts straight with a boardwalk and then the canopy. It ends in a loop. You're likely to share this easy trail with nature lovers and bikers.
4. Bear Creek Nature Trail: 0.9 Miler
Short but sweet, this popular hike boasts a wildlife nature paradise just 25 minutes outside of Orlando. It's an easy to moderate creek-side hike along sandy bluffs. See Florida's famous palm trees, oaks, and ancient cypress trees.
The hike is a loop at the end of the woods just beyond the parking lot. Follow the creek from the parking lot. Look for a pond and dense, shady saw palmetto.
On the way back, enjoy the uplands that end at a boardwalk. If you go past the Boulevard, you've gone too far. But don't worry. If you follow the loop, you should end where you started.
5. Black Bear Wilderness Loop Trail: 7.1 Miler
Even though it's just a 30-minute drive north of central Orlando, this trail is for lovers of the wild. It's pretty remote, and there are bears, which makes it a real adventure.
Plus, you get to walk over levees on boardwalks, so even though you're safe, you're in a position to see where the wild things roam. The boardwalks are sturdy, though narrow in some spots. It's like walking on bridges strung together.
There are 14 of them in a loop built for St. Johns River flooding. Look out for the bears, cypress, snail shell fossils, pygmy rattlers, cottonmouths, a creek, and more wonders.
6. Seminole-Wekiva Trail: 14 Miler
This one is long and in a straight line, so take note.
But there are plenty of conveniences. There are nice bathrooms and water stops along the way, plus plenty of shady trees. The hike ends at the trailhead at Lake Mary where there are spots to grab food and rest. You can also head over to Hourglass Brewing in Longwood when you're done, one of Orlando's many local-brew alehouses.
Twenty minutes north of Orlando, get ready to enjoy Spanish moss, a tree canopy, and lush woods.
7. Split Oak Forest WEA: 7.8 Miler
This hike encircles the Split Oak Forest Wildlife and Environmental Area, hence the WEA. Also, look for various other trails through the park.
The hike and park get their names from an oak tree over 200 years old that split in the middle. It's still alive and worth a look.
This trail and park is south-east of Orlando by a half-hour drive. Enjoy the wide prairie covered with ponds and lakes and the hammock of oak trees. Keep a look out for the gorgeous sandhill cranes.
8. Disney Wilderness Preserve: 2.5 Miler
An hour south of Orlando, this trail is part of the 11,500 acres of preserve owned by Disney and managed by The Nature Conservancy.
The hike is a loop and is easy to moderate in difficulty.
Look for the cypress-lined lake, which is rare in this area of the state. Also, enjoy the uplands with the new growth of long-leaf pine savannas. There are over 1,000 types of wildlife and the gorgeous Lake Russell to see as well.
In the mornings, there is some excellent birding. The park opens at 9:00 a.m. There are benches and tables if you want to bring a picnic lunch. Note that in April through October the trail is not open on the weekends.
9. Florida Trail Tosohatchee: 10 Miler
Thirty minutes east of Orlando, this off-the-beaten-path hike is a hidden gem. The main trail is a linear adventure across the Tosohatchee Reserve, which is 28,000 acres of wildness.
Follow the path and traverse a slash pine forest. It's one of the oldest in Florida! There are also two loops, the White Loop and the Yellow Loop, that you can do too. They branch off to the side from the main trail and are great for backpackers and camping.
Dogs are welcome to hike along on the main trail. In addition to the slash pines, enjoy the Jim Creek virgin cypress swamp and the tannic creek ancient live oaks.
10. Rock Springs Run Hiking Trail: 12.3 Miler
North of Orlando by about a 35-minute drive, this more-challenging trail is in the sprawling 14,000-acre wilderness area that runs along the basin of the Wekiva River. Expect to see horseback riders and bikers on the trail with you. Also, be prepared for black bears and the many signs of them.
Black bears make themselves comfy here. You can tell when you see the stumps they've ripped apart, hot and steamy scat (poop), and their tree lounges. Yes, this is their home. They are likely to be lounging in those tree recliners themselves.
During hunting season, the park may be closed to hiking and other activities. They hunt turkey and hogs, not the bears. Check before you go.
Put on Your Hiking Boots and Hit the Trails in Orlando
There's so much to choose from, right?
We just love seeing all the marshy wildlife native to Florida on the trails in Orlando. It's a wonderful way to travel off the beaten path and get to see what Central Florida is really about—besides the theme parks. And if you live here, it's fun to get out and see what your native backyard is all about.
Or maybe you're thinking of moving to Orlando! We highly recommend it. If you are thinking of joining us here permanently, get some more plusses about Orlando here that may just tip the scales and bring you permanently to this gorgeous wonderland.
And don't forget to bring bug repellent and plenty of water on your hikes!