You’re likely familiar with Wekiwa Springs State Park, but if you’re willing to drive north a few more miles you’ll have the opportunity to do some hiking in an area that most people don’t know about. Rock Run Springs Reserve is a 14,000 acre stretch of land located in Sorrento, Florida and has over 17 miles of trails for you to explore.
What Makes It Great
As you make your way through the reserve you’ll see large expanses of sand pine scrub and pine flatwoods. During the wide open sections you’ll have the opportunity to look across the landscape and enjoy the remoteness of the area. During the narrow sections you’ll walk through swampy areas and cross small streams using makeshift bridges.
Another feature of this area is the local history. Part of the reserve is in the same area as the old town of Ethel, which was a railroad stop in the 1800s. The only part of the town that remains is the cemetery. While you’re making your way around the main hiking trail you will come across a small sign instructing you to go to the right for the cemetery. Unfortunately, many of the grave markers have been vandalized over the years. As a result, only a few still remain. If you do stop by the cemetery, do so with respect and make sure to not leave any trash in the area.
The main hiking trail of Rock Run Springs Reserve is a 14-mile loop around the reserve. Parts of the main loop are shared by horses and mountain bikes, so make sure to keep your eyes open for other people on the trail. The horse trails split off into the interior of the reserve so you will likely not encounter them. Hikers are permitted on the horse trails, so that's an option if you're interested in extending your hike. The trails vary from wide open paths to singletrack sections only the wide enough for one person.
Keep in mind that this area undergoes regular controlled burns. You will likely encounter areas of the reserve that have recently been burned. Be careful as you make your way through these areas. The trail markers can occasionally be lost in between the time of the burn and when trail workers can go back out to fix them. Make sure you keep your map with you and a compass.
Make sure you check the weather forecasts before heading over to the park. Sections of the trail are open and exposed to the sun. Because of this, it can get very hot. Make sure you bring plenty of water as there is not a water source at the trailhead. You will encounter some small streams on the trail, but the water will need to be sterilized before drinking it.
Who is Going to Love It
Hikers of all ages and skill levels will enjoy Rock Run Springs Reserve. The hiking is easy and the trails are flat. If you or your group are looking for a quiet alternative to some of the busier parks in the area this is a spot to check out.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Rock Run Springs Reserve is a state park, so you will be expected to pay an entrance fee. Once you arrive at the park entrance you will pay your entrance fee at the honor box before continuing in. A short distance from the entrance you’ll find parking spaces along the main road and the trailhead kiosk on the right. This kiosk is the start of the main hiking loop which will bring you back on the left side of the road.