“A flat ride along the north shore of Lake Apopka featuring gators, bobcats, panthers and birds!”
— Glenn Evans
Both sides have nice park areas with facilities. On the Orange County side you can see LOTS of wildlife.
Open sunrise to sunset, no motorized vehicles.
Beautiful lake views, nature encounters (raccoons, birds, bobcats, panthers and LOTS of gators!), and fresh air can all be had on this great trail. This is a great, non-technical, ride with several trail options as you move through the area.
With parking and facilities at both the Green Mountain and Magnolia Park trailheads, this route runs in both Orange Country and Lake County. Future plans are to expand the Orange County side to connect to the West Orange Trail and the Lake County side to connect to the Lake County trail system. This trail is also an amazing location for birding and butterfly watching with nearly 100 species of birds already observed and nearly 20 species of butterflies. Visitors should watch for Bald Eagles, Short-tailed Hawks, Swallow-tailed Kites, and numerous songbirds during appropriate times of the year.
Need to Know
Starting from the Magnolia Side, at the 4-mile mark, there is a Pump House that signals the start of a 1.5-mile stretch where you share the road with cars on a nature drive on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
This route starts at Orange County's Magnolia Park with 1/2 mile of paved trail and then 17.5 miles of dirt road and jeep track along the north shore of Lake Apopka. OR start on the Green Mountain side. Either starting point is equally as beautiful, so you really can't go wrong here.
This is a wildlife preserve so you'll usually see lots of gators and birds, and occasionally raccoons, bobcats and even rarely a Florida Panther. Starting from Magnolia Park, the turn around is at Green Mountain Scenic Overlook in Lake County - there is a parking lot and facilities on both ends so it is easy to start from either side.
There are several alternate routes through the area so you can add variety. For the most part, the trail is flat, giving you the opportunity to keep an eye out for the the local wildlife.
While dogs are allowed, I recommend you leave them at home (especially on the Orange County side) as gators ARE attracted to them as snacks!
History & Background
Back in the day, Lake Apopka was a pristine fishing resort area, but the lake was polluted through government sponsored muck farming. There is a federal/state effort to clean the lake, and the northern shore of Lake Apopka has been designated as a nature preserve.