Escape the Mousetrap

Sure Cure for Crowd Overkill
Go Guide: Lake Kissimmee State Park

Directions: The park is located off S.R. 60, about 15 miles northeast of the city of Lake Wales. The park is open daily from 7 a.m. until sunset.

Cost: Admission is $3.25 per vehicle. 

For more information: Contact the Lake Kissimmee State Park, 14248 Camp Mack Road, Lake Wales, FL 33853; (863) 696-1112.


Instead of : Disney's long lines
Try: Hiking at Lake Kissimmee State Park

Most visitors to Orlando have never heard of, much less set foot in, pretty Lake Kissimmee State Park, a leafy 5,930-acre oasis. After a few days of jostling with the crowds at Disney World, that alone is reason enough to visit. But the park offers so much more. It borders three lakes, including Lake Kissimmee, the third largest in the state, and is a favorite"downtime spot" for savvy visitors.

Thirteen miles of hiking trails skirt floodplain forests, prairie hammocks, and carpets of bright-colored lotus and pickerelweed. We like the six-mile Buster Island loop trail. The level trail, wandering through towering hardwood trees, is easy enough for all members of the family. Still have energy? Try the six-mile Fallen Oak loop trail, or scramble up the one-mile Gobble Ridge path for expansive lakefront views.

While hiking, we keep our eyes out for wild turkeys, deer, and bald eagles — we've seen them here before. We look in vain for bobcat and fox — they're here but we haven't caught a glimpse of them yet.

There's plenty more to do in the park:

  • Fishing at lakes Kissimmee, Rosalie, and Tiger is reputed to be some of the best in the state. Visitors can launch their own boats or simply fish from the canal banks, marina, and dam areas.
  • Visit historic Cow Camp, which depicts the days when this area was the heart of Florida's frontier cattle country. A costumed cow hunter talks about old times and offers samplings of camp coffee. Grazing nearby is a herd of Florida scrub cattle.
  • Climb an observation tower.

But we're content to meander quiet trails, happy to be far from the madding crowds.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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