There are so many lakes, springs, rivers, state parks, nature preserves, and conservation areas in Orlando North/Seminole County, there’s almost no end to the places you can hike or bike.
But you want to trek smart, right? So a bit of planning is a good idea. You can take short jaunts, all-day outings or, for hardcore enthusiasts, map out a full-on hiking vacation that can take multiple days. Here’s a rundown of key trails in Orlando North/Seminole County.
Wanna log some bike miles? The paved Cross Seminole Trail comprises three separate sections that will eventually connect to create an impressive 23-mile continuous trail (some sections are currently under construction). The trail runs through urban, suburban and semi-rural areas, and you can jump in at numerous entry points along the way. The Cross Seminole Trail is relatively flat — there’s never more than a 2% grade — and its highest point is 72 feet above sea level. You can hike or run the trail, of course, but for bike rides, this is probably the best trail to do in Orlando North.
This extremely shady trail largely runs along an old railroad bed. A southern section goes from the Orange County line to the Geneva Wilderness area; a northern segment starts close to downtown Geneva and heads northeast to Lake Harney Wilderness Area along the St. Johns River. The Flagler Trail is unpaved — you’ll walk over sand and hard-packed berm — and takes you through plenty of tree canopies. Make sure and check out the pedestrian bridge over the Econlockhatchee River.
Built over the former Orange Belt Railway, this diverse, paved trek starts at the county line in Altamonte Springs and extends for roughly 14 miles, ending at the spring-fed Wekiva River. You’ll pass by quiet residential neighborhoods and through lush woods draped in Spanish moss, offering plenty of shade. You can encounter some urban bustle in a three-mile section that runs near office buildings, shopping centers, and restaurants.
For shorter jaunts close to towns, your best bets are the Sanford Riverwalk that overlooks Lake Monroe (and puts you a short distance from dining and shopping); and the more suburban, two-mile Kewannee Trail near Casselberry and Maitland. Both are paved and bike-friendly.
If venturing out into the wild is more your thing, there are several state forests and preserves that are riddled with trails. Here are a few:
Little Big Econ State Forest — If you like stretches of rugged terrain, this is your place. This 10,000-plus acre state forest at the convergence of the Econlockhatchee and Little Econlockhatchee rivers connects to the Kolokee Trail on the west side of the property. The hiking-only Florida Trail traverses more than 12 miles of the forest and includes designated backcountry campsites. The area also features seven miles of loops for off-road bikers.
Geneva Wilderness Area — Two main trails wind their way through the park, which showcases prairie ponds on the edge of a pine flatwoods. Red diamonds designate the Loop Trail, which runs along the edges of the ponds and through a strand of pine forest that once was part of a busy turpentine camp. The yellow diamonds provide a connection to the Flagler Trail.
Lake Jesup Conservation Area — This raw area includes several separate tracts that feature trails of one to 2.7 miles. They consist primarily of hardwood/sabal palm hammock, with some freshwater marsh along the shoreline.
Remember, Orlando North/Seminole County is truly a natural playground -- and these suggestions are just the beginning of the hiking and biking adventures you can have here. Wherever you go, just make sure to be safe, tread lightly, and most importantly, have fun!