Bike & Hike / Central Florida

Seminole Wekiva Trail: Smooth riding

Observation deck along trail of Markham Road

Observation deck along trail off Markham Road

The Seminole Wekiva Trail is a 14-mile paved, multi-purpose rail trail in western Seminole County, extending from the Wekiva River Protection Area west of Sanford south through Lake Mary to Altamonte Springs.

Built on an abandoned railroad bed, the trail runs somewhat parallel to (and west of) Interstate 4 through a varied landscape of woods, parks, light industrial and back yards, tainted only by a couple of somewhat awkward highway crossings.

Recently added underpasses have eased busy crossings at Markham Woods Road/Route 434 and Lake Mary Blvd. at International Pkwy.

Grade:  Gradual elevations

Easy-of-use:  Novice

There are four official trailheads (listed north to south):

Markham Road Trailhead, 8515 Markham Road, Sanford – There is plenty of parking, water and clean, new restrooms. To get there, take I-4 Exit 101 and go west on SR 46A to Orange Blvd. Turn right on Orange, then left on Markham Road. The paved Seminole Wekiva Trail runs east from this point, and there’s an unpaved section of the trail that runs west to the scenic Wekiva River.

Jones Park/Long Pond Trailhead, on the corner of Markham Woods Road and Long Pond Road in Longwood – This trailhead is about 1.6 miles south off Lake Mary Boulevard. There are no restroom facilities, but there is water, and it’s a shady spot to leave your car.

Seminole Softball Complex, 264 North Street, Altamonte Springs – Parking, water, a pavilion and restrooms are available, and it is just north of Sanlando Park. (The trail goes through the park.) To get to the softball complex, take I-4 Exit 94 and go west on State Road 434 to Douglas Ave. Go south on Douglas to North Street and turn right. (The trail goes under Douglas through another tunnel).  The softball complex and trailhead is at the west end of North Street.

San Sebastian Trailhead, 371 San Sebastian Prado, Altamonte Springs, FL.  This is officially the southern terminus of the trail, with parking facilities, water and picnic tables but no rest rooms.

There’s an unofficial trailhead at the Shoppes of Oakmonte, 1210 S. International Parkway, Lake Mary, at the halfway mark of the trail. Although parking in the shopping center is restricted, it would be a good drop-off point for the trail.

Halfway point of the Seminole Wekiva Trail at the Shoppes of Oakmonte.

Halfway point at the Shoppes of Oakmonte

Back in the corner of the shopping center are two cafes — Panera Bread and the Peachtree Café — with outdoor seating on a backdoor plaza with a picturesque view overlooking the trail.  To be sure, the bike racks are full on weekends. And the parking lot is full most of the time.

Your best bet for parking in that area is to go 1.6 miles south on Markham Woods Road, as I did, to the Jones Park/Long Pond Trailhead. The parking is shaded and there are benches along the trail. As I mentioned above, there are no rest rooms, but there is water.

Along the northern section of the trail, north of Lake Mary Boulevard, is a spur that crosses Interstate 4 via a pedestrian bridge, connecting directly to the Cross Seminole Trail, the granddaddy of trails in Seminole County that will extend your cycling adventure another 24 miles, eventually connecting with the Cady Way Trail in Winter Park.

There are signs on the Seminole Wekiva Trail that point to the Cross Seminole Trail, but they are small and can be easily missed. Nevertheless, the spur is paved and fairly obvious, so venture out a few hundred yards and you’ll see the bridge.

Peddling south from the Shoppes of Oakmonte

Peddling south from the Shoppes of Oakmonte

At the south end, Nipe says Seminole County plans to extend the trail three miles west from the San Sebastian Trailhead to the Orange County line and Apopka, where neighboring Orange County plans to meet it with an extension of the 22-mile West Orange Trail.

The West Orange Trail currently starts in Apopka and sweeps south of Lake Apopka through Winter Garden and Oakland to the Florida Turnpike.

There are even more plans by Orange County to extend the West Orange Trail north to Rock Springs/Kelly Park and Wekiwa Springs State Park on the east, and into Lake County on the west. Other plans call for a circumnavigation of Lake Apopka, connect Mount Dora to the entire network of trails.

In many ways, all this trail development is mind-boggling, but Central Florida’s counties have steadily moved forward over the past decade, taking the lead in the development of multi-purpose trails along abandoned railroad beds, envisioning a broad network of bicycle trails as vital to their transportation needs.

Nowhere else in Florida are such projects being pursued with such energy and enthusiasm, with the possible exception of Gulf Coast counties, where trails are sprouting up from the Big Bend south to Venice.

Downloads

Download this PDF of the Seminole Wekiva Trail

Nearby Bike Rentals

David’s World Cycle, Shoppes of Oakmonte, 1210 South International Parkway, Lake Mary. (407) 942-1020. Second location at 150 South State Road 434, Altamonte Springs.

Old Towne Cyclery, 134 North 4th Street, Lake Mary. 407-323-9366.

No Limits Bicycles, 1681 EE Williamson Rd, just east of Markham Woods Road, Longwood. (407) 332-5000

Nearby Camping

Wekiva Springs State Park (camping, trails, kayaking, swimming)

Wekiva Falls RV Resort (RV and tent camping, kayaking, swimming)

Rock Springs/Kelly Park (camping, trails, swimming)

Blue Springs State Park (camping, cabins, trails, swimming)

Related Articles on Florida Rambler:

West Orange Trail: A top Florida bike trail crosses historic Central Florida

The Gen James A. Van Fleet State Trail

Wekiva River Basin: A wild, scenic adventure

Related Links:

Seminole County Trails (Seminole County tourism site) 

Seminole Wekiva Trail (Rails to Trails Conservancy)

Cross Seminole Trail (Rails to Trails Conservancy)

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2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Baseball and Beaches: Florida Spring Training 2011 | Florida Rambler

  2. i think it is great that some of the old rail lines have been converted to bike/hike trails!

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