Weekend Backpacker: Tampa

Seminole Forest Wildlife Conservation Area
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Contact Information

Seminole Forest Wildlife Conservation Area
Division of Forestry, Leesburg Forestry Station
9610 CR 44
Leesburg, FL 34788
(352) 360-6675 or (352) 360-6677

Weekend Backpacker: Tampa
Seminole Forest Wildlife Conservation Area
By Sandra Friend Downs

Clear springs emerge from sharktooth-studded limestone. Black-water streams move sluggishly under yawning laurel oaks. From flat woods to sand-bottomed runs lined with tall palmettos, the Seminole Forest Wildlife Conservation Area offers 21 miles of backpacking trails meandering through almost 20,000 acres. Like Rock Springs Run State Preserve across the road, this area serves as home to the Florida black bear—and by the scat found along its trails, the bears find this section of blueberry-studded wilderness quite to their liking. You may also see the Florida scrub jay or stumble across a patch of hooded pitcher plants in the swampy lowlands. Thirteen distinctly different forest communities cluster along the pristine Wekiva River, providing a weekend's worth of diversity.

Take I-4 east through downtown Orlando to the Sanford exit, SR 46. Travel north on SR 46 approximately five miles, passing both the Wekiva Basin Geo Park. After crossing the Wekiva River, the park entrance is on your right. Driving time: two and a half hours.

As a backpacker, you can park outside the gates at SR 44 and 46 and hike in for free. An approximately $2 per car state forest use permit is required for drive-in access; self-service day-use fee pay stations are located at both entrances.

Four primitive campsites and a wooden shelter serve hikers along the trail system; these sites are open to backpackers only. Additional primitive campsites, located near the forest roads and shared by folks enjoying a little hunting or fishing, must be reserved in advance; a small user fee applies.

Hiking trails are closed during hunting seasons; information is posted on closures at the main entrance on SR 46, where the Florida Trail climbs up and over a stile into the park.

The Florida Trail Association maintains the trails in this area, including the Cassia segment of the Florida Trail. Map 21, Cassia, with detailed information on water sources and camping, is available through the Florida Trail Association; check the website for ordering information.


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