Without any mountains to speak of, Orlando may not have the reputation of an outdoor town at the national level. But for outdoor athletes looking to go trail running, mountain biking and hiking, there are plenty of options in central Florida. And there’s plenty of water for both flatwater and coastal paddlers to enjoy. In other words, there are a lot more ways to get your outdoor thrills than theme parks.
Looking to explore central Florida? Here is just a taste of the resources available for the outdoor athlete.
Trails: If you’re looking for a great place for a day hike in southeast Seminole County look no further. The Chuluota Wilderness area offers pristine woods only a few minutes outside of Orlando. Not many people think of the Chuluota Wilderness Area when they’re looking for a location for their outdoor adventures, but if you’re interested in a great hike it should definitely be on your list. For trail runners and mountain bikers, the Hal Scott Preserve, located near Avalon Park and the Beachline Expressway, has nearly 17 miles of trails for you to explore. The preserve features 9,300 acres along the Econlockhatchee River, where you’ll alternate between grass and-hard packed sand.
The Lake Louisa State Park offers 23 miles of trails, most of which are multi-use. The nine trails intersect each other to create an almost endless amount of options. There are a total of 13 lakes in the chain, making for some pleasant scenery along your ride.
Water: For flatwater paddlers, the Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Fla., offers excellent access to the St. Johns River and neighboring lakes. The spring is the habitat for over 15 threatened or endangered plants and animals. Blackwater Creek and the Econlockhatchee River also make for great destinations. For coastal paddlers, you can’t beat the Cape Canaveral National Seashore North District, a top kayaking destination just 65 miles outside of Orlando.This barrier island is a sanctuary for wildlife and is a hidden natural wonder of the world. Just moments after launching your kayak, don't be surprised if a manatee swims by to see who has come to visit.
Rock: While outdoor rock isn’t much of an option in the country’s flattest state, Orlando does have several excellent climbing gyms, including the Aiguille Rock Climbing Center and On the Edge Rock Climbing