Orlando Sentinel |
Nov 12, 2021 at 5:01 AM
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Views of Lake Proctor can be found on the orange and blue trails at Lake Proctor Wilderness Area in Seminole County. (Patrick Connolly/Orlando Sentinel)
After leaving behind the toll roads and traffic of Oviedo, songbirds perched near the trailhead are the first signal that Lake Proctor Wilderness Area is a peaceful, welcoming natural space.
The 475-acre Seminole County natural land gives hikers, cyclists and horseback riders the chance to escape into wild Florida for a few hours. With nearly six miles of trails, the wilderness area contains sand pine scrub, pine flatwoods, sandhill and bayhead swamp habitats.
Pine flatwoods comprise a section of the 475-acre Lake Proctor Wilderness Area in Seminole County. (Patrick Connolly/Orlando Sentinel)
The 2.6-mile red trail is the main looped route around the public land, starting off with a shady section that winds through a beautiful oak hammock. The blue trail and orange trail are shorter routes that connect with the red trail, providing scenic views of Lake Proctor along the way.
The western side of the wilderness area provides plenty of tree cover, while the eastern side has trails that traverse pine flatwoods, sandhill and scrub habitats with sandy, xeric soil.
A gulf fritillary works its pollinator magic on a chaffhead flower at Lake Proctor Wilderness Area in Seminole County. (Patrick Connolly/Orlando Sentinel)
Many trails are wide and easygoing, allowing for reflection or taking in the scenery. Keep an eye peeled for sandhill cranes, red-bellied woodpeckers, gopher tortoises and birds of prey. Stop near wildflowers for the chance to see bumblebees and butterflies working their pollinator magic.
Lake Proctor Wilderness Area proves itself another gem among Central Florida natural lands, showing that peace of mind is just a hike away.
Vultures fly overhead at Lake Proctor Wilderness Area in Seminole County. (Patrick Connolly/Orlando Sentinel)
Location: 920 State Road 46 in Geneva Hours: Open dawn to dusk daily Amenities: Hiking/biking trails, equestrian access, benches, rain shelters, trash cans, parking Activities: Hiking, horseback riding, biking, picnicking, wildlife viewing Accessibility: While some Seminole County parks and public lands are accessible, this area is not among them. The trails of Lake Proctor Wilderness Area area are sandy and sometimes rugged, which would prove difficult for wheelchair users. Consider visiting the paved Cross Seminole Trail or Sanford RiverWalk instead. What to bring: While the cooler months present more favorable hiking conditions, bring sunscreen, drinking water and bug spray to keep mosquitoes and other insects at bay. Footwear is a consideration on sandy trails. A camera can help capture flora and fauna along the way.
The sun shines through trees on a shaded portion of the trail at Lake Proctor Wilderness Area in Seminole County. (Patrick Connolly/Orlando Sentinel)
What not to bring: Prohibited activities on Seminole County natural lands include hunting, swimming, camping, using motorized vehicles and disturbing plants and wildlife. Alcoholic beverages, fires and littering are also against the rules. Pets: Leashed pets are allowed at Lake Proctor Wilderness Area. Pro tips: While the trails are decently well marked, it helps to have a map to stay on track. Take a photo of the map at the trailhead information kiosk for reference on the trails. More information: 407-665-2211 or seminolecountyfl.gov