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First report: Oct. 2015; latest update: Feb. 2016

Eco-biking... Lake Apopka Loop Trail

Lake Apopka Loop TrailLake Apopka Loop Trail

The Lake Apopka Loop Trail runs about 18 miles along the north shore of Lake Apopka in Orange and Lake Counties. The North Shore trail starts at Magnolia Park and runs 4 miles to the Historic Pump House, and then another 7.5 miles along the lake shore and through marsh to the North Shore Trailhead. From the North Shore Trailhead is 3.6 miles to the Clay Island Trailhead and the Clay Island Loop - 5.8 miles, but portions are grassy and better for hiking. A new addition (2015) is a link to the Green Mountain Scenic Overlook, approximately 2 miles. 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 with little to no shade, this is best as a cool weather ride. (Detailed map and photos below.)


View larger map
Location: Orange and Lake Counties
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 detailed map, left)

The only facilities are a restroom at Magnolia Park, port-a-potties at the Historic Pump House, and a restroom at the Green Mountain Scenic Overlook trailhead; bring water. 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.

Lake Apopka Loop TrailLake Apopka Loop Trail

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.

THE BEST TRAIL SECTIONS TO RIDE... and additional comments by MUDFISH

The section between Magnolia Park and the pump house is the most scenic. Ironically it is also the roughest. 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.

BOBCAT'S PHOTO GALLERY at Lake Apopka Loop Trail
(tap or hover over photo for a larger view)

Magnolia Park Trailhead to Historic Pump House (mile 4.0)
The first half mile is paved, after that hard packed rock can be bumpy.
This is the most scenic section with views of the lake.
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Magnolia Park Trailhead Leaving the trailhead Paved section runs along the road End of pavement Lake Apopka Loop Trail
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Trail along the lakeshore Bird along the trail Approaching the Historic Pump House Picnic shelter
at the Pump House
To parking at
the Pump House
Pump House to North Shore Trailhead
Trail along the lake shore is smoother leaving the pump house, then turns bumpier.
The trail then turns away from the lake and continues through marsh
to the North Shore Trailhead.
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Leaving the
pump house - port-a-potties on the right
Trail westbound from pump house Lake Apopka
from the trail
Alligator
along the trail
Birds along the trail
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Orange-Lake
County Line
Picnic shelter, mile marker 8.7 On the trail Approaching North Shore Trailhead North Shore Trailhead
Clay Island Loop
We explored a portion of the Clay Island Loop from the trailhead through marsh to the observation tower; we'll re-visit this section on another trip.
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Clay Island Trailhead Push through grass from trailhead to trail Onto the trail Left onto the loop; straight to Green Mountain Overlook Along the trail toward observation tower
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  Observation tower View from observation tower  
Clay Island to Green Mountain Scenic Outlook
From the 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.
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Leaving the trailhead On the trail Alligator along the trail Runner Crossing a canal
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Pleasant shady portion, we passed a family taking a walk On the gravel path to the Overlook -
around the "S" curves
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.
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Approaching the Observation Tower Gravel path
from the tower
Elevated boardwalk View from the tower At the trailhead
Wildlife Drive
Lake Apopka Loop TrailLake Apopka Loop Trail 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 (see photo, right), and exits at Duda Road/Jones Avenue. This is a one-way drive, a 1.25 mile stretch near the pump house is shared with bikes.
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Along the drive, pull-offs for viewing and
to avoid blocking traffic
Birds along the drive Alligator along
the drive

More information on the Lake Apopka Loop Trail (opens in a new window)

- Orange County Parks - Lake Apopka Loop Trail

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