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Latest update: February 2021

Lake Louisa State Park... Central Florida

Natural Biking and Hiking Near Orlando, Disney Area

Just south of Clermont FL, Lake Louisa State Park is a 4,300 acre "natural theme park" - an alternative to the nearby tourist attractions. Uniquely situated on the Lake Wales Ridge along the eastern boundary of the Green Swamp, the State Park has 11 distinct natural plant communities. Activities include camping, paddling, fishing, biking, hiking, horseback riding, and more. The sand hills provide a workout and scenic vistas when biking on the 7 miles of paved Park road (with bike lanes), plus 20 miles of multi-use trails. Three main lakes (Louisa, Hammond and Dixie) offer scenic views and a variety of water activities (more below). State Park fee applies. (Map link and photos below.)

Lake Louisa State Park eco-biking and hiking

Map Link...
Lake Louisa State Park


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Location: Lake County (US 27, Clermont)
Mileage: 7 miles paved Park road, 20 miles unpaved multi-use trails
Surface: Asphalt; crushed stone, packed dirt, sand
Trailheads: Parking at entry ranger station, at Lake Louisa and Dixie Lake, along the roads at trailheads.
Nearby points of interest: Orlando, Walt Disney World

Bike Shops/Rentals:

Rentals at the State Park Concessionaire (for paved road use only)

Support and Advocacy:

Friends of Lake Louisa State Park

 

 

Lake Louisa State Park... Comments and Photos

There are 7 miles of paved road within Lake Louisa State Park. The bike lanes are a big plus (we wish more State Parks had them). The cooler months are best for biking, typically with fewer cars but plenty of other bikers and hikers. In fact, except for summer when the beach at Lake Louisa is hugely popular, bicycling (on both roadway and trails) appears to be the most popular Park activity by far. With tranquil surroundings and scenic views, Lake Louisa State Park is one of our favorites for recreational eco-biking. A few hills (ancient sand dunes) add to the challenge.

Accommodations are available in cabins and camping (traditional, primitive, equestrian, group, "glamping"). The fully-equipped cabins and the campsite accommodating large RV's make this a good alternative for families visiting the Central Florida attractions.

Page Summary:

  1. Biking on the Paved Park Road
    3 Rides from Dixie Lake Outpost
    - To the Ranger Station
    - To the Main Campground
    - To Lake Louisa
  2. Unpaved Biking and Hiking
    - Nature Trail
    - Sandhill Loop, Pine Point Camp Site
  3. Park History, Information and Resources

Biking on the Paved Park Road - 3 Rides from Dixie Lake Outpost

Parking is available at the Ranger Station (main entrance), at the lakes, and along the road at trailheads. Our preferred spot is at Dixie Lake Outpost with parking, picnic, scenic views, and restrooms. Located near a point where the road branches in 3 directions, it's convenient for visiting any or all sections of the park. Here we map 3 rides from Dixie Lake Outpost - return to the outpost for a shorter ride, or link to others for a longer one.


Ride 1: Dixie Lake Outpost to Ranger Station - 1.75 miles (one-way)

Dixie Lake Outpost to Ranger Station

From Dixie Lake Outpost, turn right on the Park road and ride about 4/10 mile to an intersection - watch the signs, go straight for the Ranger Station. Continuing on the main Park road you're climbing, with some nice sand hills for a bit of a challenge, and crossing several trails. Past a small lake on the right, a road branches off leading to the rental cabins. Continuing on the main Park road, the Sunset Lot provides a vista and great sunset view; it also has a small parking area, picnic table, and entrance to trails. The final stretch to parking at the Ranger Station continues the climb, with nice vistas.


Featured Along the Way

Dixie Lake Outpost

Parking, restroom, picnic pavilion, grill, fishing dock, paddling launch, and trail access.

Rental Cabins

20 fully equipped and comfortable cabins, all with enclosed porches overlooking the lake.

Ranger Station

Parking, scenic vistas, Habitat Garden, start of the Nature Trail that runs to Lake Louisa.


Ride 2: Dixie Lake Outpost to Campground - 1 mile (one-way)

Dixie Lake Outpost to Campground

From Dixie Lake Outpost go left on the Park road - the bike lane ends at the park, so watch for cars. Across the road is Pine Point parking, access to Sandhill Loop and Pine Point camping. Continuing on the road, at a half mile is another small roadside parking area at the entrance to the Guided Trail (Horse) Rides and a badminton court. When you see the paddling rentals and a pier overlooking Lake Hammond on the right, and the Camper Canteen on the left, you've arrived at the main campground.


Featured Along the Way

In addition to camping, the campground is central to a variety of activities at Lake Louisa State Park. Rent a bike from the Camper Canteen at the campground. Go paddling on Lake Hammond and/or Dixie Lake. Uncommon at Florida State Parks, here you can also book a horseback trail ride .

Lake Hammond

Hammond Lake is directly across from the Camper Canteen. Here visitors will find parking, rental kayaks, a hand-launch, picnic pavilion, plus a short fishing pier.

Main Campground

Located between Dixie Lake and Hammond Lake. 60 sites available, compatible with RV's. Scenic views, picnicking, fishing pier, bathhouse and laundry.

Glamping

For an alternative to traditional camping, try glamping - upscale, air-conditioned tent camping. The tents are located next to the main Campground.


Ride 3: Dixie Lake Outpost to Lake Louisa - 2 miles (one-way)

Dixie Lake Outpost to Lake Louisa

From Dixie Lake Outpost, go right on the Park road then left at the intersection. Along this section are several trailheads for hiking/mountain biking trails, a fitness trail, and a bridge crosses Big Creek. A road to the left runs to Bear Lake and an equestrian camp. The Park road ends at Lake Louisa, the largest of the lakes within the park.

Lake Louisa is part of the Palatlakaha Chain of Lakes. It's fed by Big Creek and Little Creek in the Green Swamp, which forms the headwaters of the Peace, Withlacoochee, Ocklawaha and Hillsborough Rivers and is vital to refreshing the Florida aquifer.


Featured Along the Way

Lake Louisa

A boardwalk from the parking lot leads to the beach with restrooms, bathhouse, picnicking and grills, and a playground. The 3.5 mile Nature Trail starts here.

Bear Lake

Off the Main Road, this is a gravel composite and sand road shared by cars. A turn-off goes to Bear Lake, where there is a hand-launch and parking. (Sadly, not much view of lake.)

Equestrian Camp

Continuing on the gravel road past the turn-off to Bear Lake, the Equestrian Camp has camping, parking, portalet, and picnicking. A shared equestrian trail crosses here.

 

 

Unpaved Biking and Hiking

Trail biking here is best for mountain bikes, the multi-use trails can be sandy. Main trails are marked with Orange blazes, side trails and loops are Blue. The trails meet and cross, so depending on your route you can bike/hike as far as you want. Bring water and sunscreen. Helmets are highly recommended (Florida State law requires helmets for cyclists 16 or younger). A useful trail map is available at the ranger station, or can be downloaded here . We recommend GPS and/or compass when venturing far off-road.

Multi-use Nature Trail

On the Park trail map: #21, 23-29, 31-35

The Nature Trail runs 3.5 miles between the Park entry ranger station and Lake Louisa parking lot. We hiked and biked from the section at Lake Louisa, starting on the Boardwalk - an easy 1/2 mile hike with interpretative signs. Off the boardwalk on the unpaved path is a mostly easy bike ride (at least in the part we visited) - there are some sandy spots, but with wide-tire recreational bikes, not mountain bikes, we were able to push through or around most. We followed markers #21, 23, 24, 25, which includes a portion of the Fitness Trail - an Eagle Scout project. There's a Fitness trailhead roadside along the main Park road.

Trailhead / Boardwalk at Lake Louisa

Boardwalk at Lake Louisa


Sandhill Loop / Pine Point Camp Site

Across from Dixie Lake Outpost is the Pine Point parking area. We both biked and hiked here on different days, following the Sandhill Loop (#36) to the Pine Point primitive camp site and bridge over Big Creek. Signs along the way were helpful. This section was mostly bikeable, there were some sandy spots we elected to push through. We enjoyed hiking here more - we were able to take in the surroundings without having to keep our eyes to the ground.

Park History, Information and Resources

More About the Lake Louisa State Park:

The area was originally designated, but not used, as part of the Seminole Indian Reservation in the 1800's. The property was later owned by the Hammond (1910) and Bronson (1943) families, and over its history housed a sawmill and turpentine still, orange groves and cattle ranch. It was acquired by the State and became a Florida State Park in 1974. Today, the park has parking, restrooms, playground, picnicking, and camping (more below). Activities include trails for bicycling, hiking and horseback riding; swimming, fishing, boating (non-gas powered) and paddling (rentals available). Wildlife viewing includes deer, bobcat, gopher tortoises, fox squirrel and a variety of birds including bald eagles and osprey.

There's so much here we could go on for pages, we learned a lot from this great article by our friends at www.FloridaRambler.com .

Nearby Biking:

South Lake Trail
Van Fleet State Trail (a FL Top 10 Trail)
Central FL Region - More trails plus Regional Overview map

Related Resources:

Florida State Parks - Lake Louisa State Park

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