September 17, 2023
Hiking the Eastern Loop Around Orlando on the Florida Trail

Mountain climbing the Jap Loop Round Orlando on the Florida Path

This suburban and concrete part is an iconic part of the Florida Path. It will get maligned fairly a but it surely was certainly one of my favourite sections due to its uniqueness. It isn’t a street stroll by means of a metropolis as its fame may recommend.

Welcome to Suburbia

The following twenty file miles are now not within the wilderness. It’s a stark distinction to the majority of the path thus far, even together with the lengthy Deseret street stroll.

The following day or two supplies ample cell sign, comfort shops, grocery shops, eating places, and plenty of different companies of curiosity to the hiker. There are lodges that the path passes proper by additional north in Lake Mary, or a fast hitch or Uber journey on the southern finish in Oviedo or centrally in Winter Springs. There’s even one campsite close to the center of town stroll.

The vast majority of it’s on rail trails or different devoted bike paths, however a few of it’s on regular sidewalks. All of it has some type of devoted non-motorized footpath. From the State Forest to the north to the State Park to the south, it isn’t a street stroll. It follows a lot of the Cross Seminole Path which spans your entire Seminole county. Even when it’s only a widened sidewalk alongside a street, it’s an formally devoted and purpose-built foot and bike path.

This whole part is inside 12-15 miles of the downtown middle of Orlando. Orlando just isn’t a small city, and you’d anticipate only a tangled mass of four-lane metropolis streets. However this isn’t the case. There are a lot of of those giant feeder highways that you just cross over on devoted pathways more often than not, however generally they’re standard crosswalks. it’s true suburbia, aside from the part in Lake Mary close to Interstate 4, which I contemplate city. It’s barely city, although.

Beginning From Oviedo

As you exit the Little Massive Econ River State Park, you might be deposited at a trailhead that begins a sidewalk hike simply east of the small city of Oviedo, FL. This city just isn’t recognized for a lot, however simply ten miles south is the College of Central Florida, one of many fastest-growing Universities within the state, partially as a result of its location near the Kennedy House Heart and all of the tech firms positioned within the space.

The path right here is on the sidewalk. And you might be additionally launched to the primary comfort retailer of this suburban stroll inside the first mile. For me, which means an ice cream sandwich cease. It additionally means listening to visitors as it’s important to cross many roads to get to town middle.

Leaving town middle of Oviedo on the devoted Cross Seminole bike and pedestrian path.

When you attain town middle, there are numerous fascinating locations to go to. For me, that meant the pizza store proper throughout the road from the path. There’s additionally a public library, and public restrooms proper on the park that you’re strolling by means of. Only a few blocks away are the Submit Workplace, a number of eating places (together with an ice cream store), and a comfort retailer.

The path right here on the park now transitions from a sidewalk to a devoted path for bicycles and pedestrians because it bends across the lake. As you cross the principle north-south street, the trail now enters a wooded space in the course of neighborhoods. Typically the homes are so shut you might be peering into their backyards, and different occasions you may see solely woods however can hear the trimmings of suburban life. Aka garden mowers and vehicles.

For the reason that path is in suburbia, it’ll come out to street crossings each quarter mile or so. In contrast to many different trails in suburban areas, this one forces all of the vehicles to a whole cease with posted cease indicators. I’m used to no signage, perhaps a crossing painted on the road, perhaps an indication for the cross visitors warning drivers of pedestrians, or perhaps a blinking signal. The visitors is often given the appropriate of method. however this path prioritizes pedestrian visitors. That was a pleasant and surprising contact.

That is fairly good climbing. It’s dry, there are fascinating issues to have a look at, and the vehicles should cease at each intersection.

There are a lot of little creeks to cross, and certainly one of them at Howell Creek is sort of giant and has an elaborate boardwalk, trestle, and resting space constructed excessive over the water under. It has a suburban wilderness really feel to it. I might be spending an amazing period of time on this path if I lived within the space.

It’s a fancier path when it turns into an elevated path above the creek under.

Winter Springs

It’s arduous to inform the place Oviedo ends and Winter Springs begins, but it surely could possibly be on the overpass for the Seminole Expressway. The character of the path positively adjustments right here. Now not is it a woodland nestled between homes. The homes give technique to multi-family housing, and the path makes its method subsequent to the street.

The primary giant complicated you come to is labeled as “luxurious condominiums.” The condominium half is straightforward to determine, however the luxurious half is a bit tougher. What’s the distinction between an ordinary condominium and a luxurious one? They appeared good. However I like my tent higher.

Even when the path is subsequent to a street, it’s nonetheless a chosen non-motorized path.

There’s an out of doors plaza right here, however I didn’t hassle to go off-trail to discover the outlets. There’s additionally a big baseball complicated. However the public restrooms are the spotlight of the japanese a part of Winter Springs for me. By no means underestimate the ability of a flushing bathroom.

In the midst of this part, the path turns away from the street and enters the Spring Hammock Protect. It is a closely wooded part that has a shock for many who don’t like to remain in lodges. Sufficient stated about that. This space was busy with of us on bikes and runners. It’s a widespread space.

After you exit the protect, then it turns into extra suburban once more, however with a number of comfort shops and eating choices. I used to be actually trying ahead to stopping at Mama’s Empanadas, however she closed the enterprise the month earlier than I arrived. Mama’s is now not, however a brand new restaurant is opening in the identical location, and there was a Subway sandwich store subsequent door, so I didn’t go unfed.

This intersection crosses CR 427, one of many few giant roads you cross through crosswalk as an alternative of a pedestrian overpass. This additionally marks the tip of Winter Springs and the transition into Lake Mary.

Lookie, lookie - I found Trucker Bob. Or rather, he found me.

Lookie lookie – I discovered Trucker Bob. Or fairly, he discovered me. You’ll be able to virtually see the frustration on my face as within the background is the previous Mama’s Empanadas which closed lower than a month in the past. Belief me, I’m not crying… but.

Lake Mary

Since Orlando is only one big mass of suburbs, it’s arduous to inform whenever you formally enter Lake Mary. Perhaps there’s a signal that I missed, however whenever you hit Lake Mary Excessive College, you may have positively arrived.

Proper subsequent to the highschool is a park and a library with retailers, Wifi, and restrooms. They’ve some shade timber that present ample shade and grassy areas for a fast nap. The FarOuot app exhibits the path staying on the sidewalk, however the true Seminole path truly wanders off the street and snuggles in between the library and the park. Not that it actually issues a lot.

A essential mistake was made simply earlier than this space. I dozed off and missed the flip to go to the highschool and saved going a few quarter mile previous the flip. It could have been straightforward to bushwhack by means of the neighborhood (on roads, not individuals’s backyards) to get again on observe, however I turned again as an alternative. This similar mistake was repeated once more later once I missed the flip to hit the suspension bridge over Interstate 4.

The path turns to observe the high-tension energy strains proper of method. You might be near neighborhoods and lakes, and there aren’t any timber anyplace close to the ability strains, clearly. So it is a very sunny part, however there are fascinating issues to have a look at.

There’s a tunnel to go beneath Greenwood avenue and a neat overpass for West Lake Mary Boulevard. On the latter, there’s a large purchasing space with many eating places and different companies. There’s a Planet Smoothie that hikers love, however I ended at Jason’s Deli for a fast snack.

One of many fancier pedestrian overpasses. That is the one over Lake Mary Boulevard.

This time we get to go beneath the street through a tunnel.

And the crossing I’ve been ready for… the suspension bridge over Interstate 4.

The part alongside Rinehart street might be the closest factor to an “Orlando Metropolis hike” that folks would worry. It’s nonetheless the Cross Seminole Path, however it’s only a very large sidewalk alongside the facet of a really busy avenue. However one factor to make up for the unpleasantness is that they have bottle-filling stations about each quarter mile.

That is the place I missed one other flip. I used to be alleged to cross the road simply earlier than the Postal middle, however I saved on going previous it. I may have bushwhacked once more, however then I might have missed the suspension bridge over I-4. No Bueno. That is without doubt one of the causes I took the japanese route round central Florida. I backtracked and made my move over I-4 on the best bridge on your entire path.

When you cross the bridge, you might be in one other business space, but it surely has a extra city really feel to me. That is the place you’ll find a number of giant lodges, together with the Lake Mary Marriott. There are a number of locations to eat on this space, too, and one other giant grocery retailer as you might be exiting Lake Mary.

The path then begins to revert again to the way it began on this suburbia. It turns into a devoted path close to roads, then slowly into woods, then it dumps you again out onto a street so to cross the Wekiva river.

The path returns to a woodland oasis within the metropolis as you get nearer to the Wekiva river and Seminole State Forest.

This part has been fully rebuilt in the previous few years. it was once only a sidewalk or street stroll throughout the river, however they’ve constructed a very nice devoted path your entire method till you hit the doorway street to the Seminole State Forest. I used to be impressed.

Decide One Emotion

I want to select both anticipation or shock.

That is one stretch I’ve wished to hike for thirty years. It is without doubt one of the causes I selected the japanese route round central Florida as an alternative of the western route that goes nearer to my residence. It’s arduous to speak your self into a bit hike that simply goes by means of a concrete jungle.

Or at the least I used to be informed it was a concrete jungle. It began out that method and was that method in the course of Lake Mary, however the remainder of the path was fairly nice and actually enjoyable.

I used to be shocked that a lot of the path was on a devoted paved path. I used to be shocked that for a lot of the path by means of neighborhoods, the pedestrians had the right-of-way and never crossing autos. I used to be shocked on the variety of overpasses or tunnels that fully prevented all the busy and crowded roads I knew spewed out throughout this space from Orlando. I used to be shocked at how closely wooded some stretches of the path had been. And I used to be shocked to discover a campsite proper in the course of all of it.

I anticipated comfort shops and eating places. If truth, I believe I anticipated extra. That was considerably of a shock. I didn’t anticipate to overlook two turns and should backtrack 1 / 4 of a mile every time. That shocked me.

And I used to be shocked at how a lot I loved this stretch by means of city. I don’t worry it in any respect. I’m undecided I wish to make a bit hike out of it or something, however I might gladly hike it once more.

So I believe shock wins my vote for the emotion I skilled on this part of the path. I’m wondering what the emotion can be if I hike it once more now that I learn about all the surprises that await me.



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