For Your Daily Dose of the Tropics
Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park
Blackjack Ridge at Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park
Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park abuts Seminole State Forest to the north. The Preserve contains about four miles of the Wekiva River along with a section of Blackwater Creek and the surrounding wetlands. Because of the abundance of wildlife in this area, Native Americans were hanging out here thousands of years ago. Even today you might still see Florida black bears, white-tailed deer, bobcats, American alligators, river otters, gopher tortoises, wood storks and sandhill cranes on the property.
Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park offers bicycling, hiking and horseback riding trails, canoeing and kayaking, and equestrian camping facilities: designated areas with horse stalls and corrals that must be reserved in advance. Equestrian campers must use the designated campsites, too, as most of this property is maintained as a wilderness area.
There are restrooms and picnic tables at the parking areas but most of the park is undeveloped. Near the horse stalls at the northern entrance is a restroom/shower facility that is also universally accessible with accessible parking immediately in front of it.
A lot of folks put their canoes and kayaks in the Wekiva River at Wekiwa Springs State Park and enjoy a five-hour float downstream to Katie's Landing (a canoe/kayak-only launch/pull-out facility) in Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park. Hikers will find a 2.5-mile Nature Trail located near the southern entrance but the northern entrance offers access to eighteen miles of multi-use trails.
For day users, Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park is open from 8 am to sunset every day of the year. The park office is open Monday through Friday from 8 am until 5 pm. Use of the park is free to all but equestrian camping requires registration and comes with fees. The southern entrance to the park is located on State Road 46 about nine miles west of Sanford. The northern entrance is off State Road 44 in Pine Lakes: go south on Oak Avenue to Swift Road, then turn and go west on Swift Road to Fechtel Road (at the end of the pavement), then go south on Fechtel Road to the entrance gate. Equestrian-types will most likely want to use the northern entrance because that's where the equestrian trailheads are... and horses are not allowed in the southern areas of Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park anyway. Horseback riders will also need to have a current negative Coggins test with them for all their horses before unloading them on the property. Anyone under the age of 16 will need to be wearing a helmet at all times when mounted on a horse on state property. Horses and bikes must stay on designated trails.
Typical sandhill habitat at Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park