Lower Wekiva River Preserve Red Loop

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Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park is a large conservation area protecting nearly 18,000 acres within the Wekiva River basin.

The Red Loop is located on the eastern side of the namesake river, among a network of hiking trails alongside Katie’s Landing.

Prescribed burns are used to keep habitats healthy

Resources

Resources for exploring the area

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Overview

Location: SanfordLength: 4.5 mile loopTrailhead: 28.82843, -81.41155Address: 262 Wekiva Park Dr, SanfordFees: $3 per vehicleRestroom: At Katie’s Landing trailheadLand manager: Florida State ParksPhone: 407-553-4383

Open 8 AM to sunset. Leashed pets welcome. Trails are sparsely marked.

Accessible restrooms and parking but this trail is not accessible.

Directions

From Interstate 4 exit 101, Sanford, follow SR 46 west for 2.3 miles to the first of five traffic circles, taking the first exit to stay on SR 46. Continue straight through four more traffic circles before turning right onto Wekiva Park Rd in another 2.4 miles. Continue 1.2 miles to the entrance to Katie’s Landing on the left. The hike starts on the opposite side of Wekiva Park Dr.

Hike

Starting at the parking area, stop at the information kiosk and take a picture of the trail map if no paper maps are available.

Head eastward, crossing a paved road to begin the hike at a large trailhead sign.

Trailhead sign

Turn left, following a wide sandy pathway alongside Wekiva Park Drive. Sand pines and oaks line the trail in a scrubby flatwoods environment with very limited shade.

The trail turns to the right in 0.4 mile, heading eastward into a mesic flatwoods habitat.

Scrubby flatwoods

Sporadic longleaf pines rise from a lush sea of fetterbush lyonia and saw palmettos.

The scent of vanillaleaf fills the air, with narrow shoots producing bright purple flowers in late summer.

Thread-waisted wasp on vanillaleaf flowers

In another 0.2 mile, continue straight though an intersection of access roads as the trail meanders to the north.

Clusters of goldenrod extend above the ground cover alongside slender stalks of blazing stars, adding splashes of vibrant yellow and purple to an otherwise green landscape.

Goldenrod in bloom

Trailside seasonal prairie ponds offer refuge for frogs and vegetation adapted to wetter environments.

These depressions provide a stark contrast to the surrounding flatwoods, appearing grassier and covered in small white flowers.

Prairie pond

At 1.7 miles, the trail makes a sharp turn to the right before leading along an edge of the open pine savanna.

The path begins to take on more shade as the number of pines increase, accompanied by cabbage palms.

Mixed pine and palm forest

Turkey oaks begin to dot the landscape as the trail climbs in elevation and transitions to a sandhill habitat.

Sandhill milkweed sprouts along the path, sporting large colorful leaves and clusters of small pink flowers.

Sandhill milkweed

The trail turns to the west at 3.8 miles, winding through scattered tree cover over a forest floor covered with wiregrass, bracken, and gopher apple.

Approaching the end of the loop, the Red Loop joins the Blue Trail for a short distance as habitat slowly changes to scrubby flatwoods once more.

Turkey oaks and pines

Trail Map

Red: Red Loop. Blue: Wekiva River Paddling Trail. Green: Sandhill Trail (still closed)

Explore More!

Learn more about Lower Wekiva Preserve State Park

Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park

Paddle, hike, or ride your horse within this massive riverine preserve on the edge of the Orlando metro, where the Wekiva River and St. Johns River mingle.

Video

Nearby Adventures

More worth exploring while you’re in this area.

Seminole State Forest

With nearly 50 miles of trails and roads for hiking, biking, and equestrian use, Seminole State Forest offers surprising panoramas and bubbling springs north of Orlando.

Lower Wekiva Loop

Explore the Wekiva River and Black Water Creek floodplains on this lengthy loop hike in Seminole State Forest

Black Bear Wilderness Area

North of Orlando, Black Bear Wilderness Area in Sanford offers some of the best wildlife watching in the region on its loop along the St. Johns River.

Rock Springs Run Hiking Trail

With more than 12 miles of hiking through the heart of Florida black bear territory, the Rock Springs Run Hiking Trail gets you into the wild outside Orlando.

 

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