Best Hikes Near the University of Central Florida Near Orlando Florida

by on September 22nd, 2014
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Hiking in Florida may seem like they would be rather monotonous with the same palmetto and pine scrub, but the plentitude of lakes and rivers adds variety and welcomes wildlife. Early morning is the best time to hike, especially just at first light because the temperature is cooler and the humidity is often lower. Also, you are more likely to encounter wildlife such as snakes out hunting. Common wildlife to see include deer, turkeys, snakes, lizards, frogs and toads, raccoon, and armadillo. The cry of the red shouldered hawks “ki ki ki” sounds like it is interested in dining at all times. They are often seen on posts, the ground, or perched in a tree. Their coloring can be quite startling with red shoulder patches and vivid white and black plumage. Here’s some great hikes you should try:

Best of Two Hikes at Little Big Econ State Forest [Photographs 1 and 2]

Take Hwy 426 east from downtown Oviedo until you pass Lockwood Road and Barr Street[1] where you find the trailhead. From the trailhead, you can cross the road and head through a wide fenced wooded walkway with lots of wildflowers for several miles until reaching open sandy floodplain with mixed forest and lots of interesting colored bugs. Heading in the other direction, you can pick your path, getting close to the river or staying beneath trees to get many scenic views of the river.

Hikes at Wekiwa Springs and DeLeon Springs [Photograph 3]

These hikes are good during the morning and better if you bring a swimsuit for a dip afterward. Wekiwa Springs is in Longwood, from I-4 head Hwy 434 west to Wekiwa Springs Road[1]. Bring bug juice because mosquitoes were plentiful on the shorter boardwalk hike. DeLeon Springs is further afield; take I-4 to Sandford, then Hwy 17. Both parks have freshwater springs with regulated places to swim and also bathrooms and change rooms.

Econ River Wilderness Hike [Photograph 4]

Early morning you find plentiful wildlife along the river flood area. Many trails criss-cross the area and lead down to the river. The trees are sparse along the plain. A swamp by the parking lot is pretty especially with steam rising in the morning. From the University of Central Florida head east, turn right on McCulloch road and then continue to the parking area near the Old Lockwood Road.

Plan to bring water, a hat, and binoculars and a bird and wildlife book. Most of the available trails for for 2 miles or longer. More hikes are available from the source we use, “The Hiker’s Guide to the Sunshine State” written by Sandra Friend and full of lots of good tips and explanations of plants and fauna. You can find most places on MapQuest.

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