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Latest update: August 2020

Lake Apopka Loop Trail... Florida

Popular Eco-biking Trail with Water Views and Wildlife

Note; portions of the Lake Apopka Loop Trail may be closed at times. Before visiting, check with the St. Johns River Water Management District for status.

Northwest of Orlando, the Lake Apopka Loop Trail runs about 18 miles along or near the north shore of Lake Apopka in Orange and Lake Counties. The North Shore Trail section is the mostly highly used - starting at Magnolia Park and running 4 miles to the Historic Pump House, and then along the lake shore and through marsh 7.5 miles to the North Shore Trailhead. From the North Shore Trailhead it's 3.6 miles to the Clay Island Trailhead and 5.8 miles to the Clay Island Loop, where portions are grassy and better for hiking. A 2 mile extension links to the Green Mountain Scenic Overlook. Eventually, it is hoped the trail will circle the lake and link into the West Orange and other regional trails.

Leaving the Magnolia Park trailhead in Apopka, the trail is paved for a half mile but the rest of the trail is crushed stone - rough and potholed in spots, but mostly hard packed and fairly easy to ride (narrow tires not recommended). The trail runs on former farmland now under restoration, with little to no shade, this is best as a cool weather ride. (Map link and photos below.)

Lake Apopka Loop Trail

Map link...
Lake Apopka Loop Trail


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Mileage: 18 miles
Surface: Crushed stone, paved (1/2 mile only, at Magnolia Park)
Trailheads: Magnolia Park (2929 S. Binion Road, Apopka), North Shore Trailhead (24600 CR 448A, Mt. Dora), Clay Island Trailhead (22526 Carolyn Lane, Astatula), Green Mountain Scenic Overlook (20700 County Road 455, Montverde). (See map)

Bike Shops/Rentals:

Spin City Cycles (Apopka)

Support and Advocacy:

Friends of Lake Apopka

LAKE APOPKA LOOP TRAIL... Comments and Photos

The only facilities are a restroom at Magnolia Park, port-a-potties at the Historic Pump House, restrooms at North Shore Trailhead (at the adjoining McDonald Canal Boat Ramp), and a restroom at the Green Mountain Scenic Overlook trailhead. Bring water, none is provided along the trail. The area is known for its birds and wildlife, on a warm-weather trip we didn't see many but on a cooler day were many birds and alligators.

The section between Magnolia Park and the pump house is the most scenic. West of the pump house, you have another couple of miles of enjoyable lake views, before you enter the filtering area with shallow ponds and bulrushes. From here on, the nature of the ride changes as your field of view is far more obstructed.


Magnolia Park Trailhead to Historic Pump House (4 miles)

Magnolia Park has parking, restrooms, picnic, playground, boat ramp, camping. Leaving the park, the first half mile along the Lake Apopka Loop Trail is paved, after that is an old asphalt road that has not been maintained - can be bumpy. This is the most scenic section with views of the lake. Since our last visit and after an extended hurricane closure, as the trail approaches the Pump House, the surface has been improved: widened with smooth crushed stone surface. At the Historic Pump House are parking and porta-potties. Note: This is only reachable by car on Friday-Sunday when Wildlife Drive is open.

Magnolia Park to Pump House

Historic Pump House Trailhead


Historic Pump House to North Shore Trailhead (7.5 miles)

The first 1.25 miles are shared with cars along the Lake Spur of Wildlife Drive (Friday, Saturday, Sunday). Then the trail diverges from the roadway and continues lakeside. A canal runs to the lake, and at Canal Road the trail makes a short detour to a bridge crossing it. Turning away from the lake (about 4 miles), the trail continues through marsh to the North Shore Trailhead.

Pump House to Canal Road

Canal Road to North Shore Trailhead


North Shore Trailhead / McDonald Canal Boat Ramp

North Shore Trailhead has parking. Other facilities are now available at the adjoining McDonald Canal Boat Ramp, with parking, restrooms, picnic, and boat ramp.

 


Clay Island Loop

At City Island Trailhead (parking only), we explored a portion of the Clay Island Loop from the trailhead through marsh to the nearest observation tower (there are 3) (Oct. 2015). On our more recent visit to the trailhead, the section leading from the parking area to the trail was more heavily overgrown - this is not highly used and portions are better suited to hiking.

 


Clay Island to Green Mountain Scenic Outlook

From the Clay Island Trailhead, we rode to the Green Mountain Scenic Overlook. Much of the roadway is wide and hard packed, with some pleasant shaded sections. A loose gravel path - including "S" curves! (we walked it) - leads up to the Observation Tower. Continuing on the gravel path brings you to the trailhead. At the trailhead are parking, restrooms, and picnic pavilion.


Green Mountain Scenic Overlook

The Observation Tower provides a great view of the surrounding area and a 130-foot elevated boardwalk to the trailhead which has parking, restrooms, drinking fountain, bicycle pump, bike racks, benches, pavilion, and educational displays.

Wildlife Drive

The 9-mile Wildlife Drive is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and on Federal holidays but closed the remainder of the week while restoration work proceeds. The entrance to the drive is at Lust Road in Apopka, and exits at Jones Avenue. This is a one-way drive, a 1.25 mile stretch (the "Lake Spur") near the pump house is shared with bikes. Parking and porta-potties are available at the Pump House, an informational kiosk and porta-potties are at the intersection of North Spur and West Spur (Laughlin Rd. and McDonald Canal Rd.).

Wildlife Drive

Wildlife Along the Drive


Lake Apopka Restoration

Lake Apopka was once a fishing paradise but pollution from farming, citrus plants and sewage caused it to deteriorate. The land was purchased and a restoration project spearheaded by the Friends of Lake Apopka is in process, the loop trail was suggested as a means to bring people close to appreciate the lake and support its restoration.

Lake Apopka Loop Trail

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