CLERMONT — Lake Louisa State Park may be only a half hour from the Magic Kingdom, but it offers magic of a totally different sort — rolling hills, cypress trees draped with Spanish moss, old citrus trees, gopher tortoises, deer and wildlife.
This Florida park offers new, spacious, well-equipped cabins that can accommodate six. The word cabin doesn’t do them justice. They’re really small houses. They rent for $120 a night, and perhaps because that is more expensive than many park cabins, they are easier to book. (At some parks, cabins fill up 11 months in advance.)
The cabins are two bedroom/two bath homes with expansive screen porches with rocking chairs overlooking Lake Dixie in the distance. The kitchen has microwave, dishwasher and everything you need to set up housekeeping. With a sleeper sofa, the cabins sleep six and are ideal for families. In the winter, visitors cozy up around the gas fireplaces. Don’t expect the electronic comforts of home, though — there are no TVs and no phones.
Lake Louisa State Park is located off US 27 just south of Clermont. It offers an expanse of natural rolling hills, some over 100 feet high, through which 20 miles of hiking trails wind. Some lead to picturesque small lakes. (The park has six lakes, some studded with ancient cypress trees, connected by the Palatlakaha River.)
We found the park a wonderful place to explore on foot. We especially enjoyed coming upon former orange groves allowed to go wild; plucking an orange from a tree made a refreshing treat on a hike.
There are fishing piers and you can launch a canoe or kayak on the lakes or rent one from the rangers station for $8 for two hours.
Happily, after a closure, the beach is again open for swimming at Lake Louisa State Park, improving it as a summer destination. (Be aware that you may not be able to see the lake’s bottom even in shallow water as a result of naturally occurring tannins in the water. No life guards are on duty and swimming is at your own risk.)
The park also has a full-service campground. The park’s website warns it is new and the young trees don’t yet provide shade.
Useful info when visiting Lake Louisa State Park:
Kayaking/canoeing: Wekiwa Springs State Park isn’t far; the river is a federally designated wild and scenic river. Here’s a guide to the Wekiva River basin.