Merry Christmas from Christmas, Florida!

Christmas is wrapped in green…Christmas, Florida, that is. Located on the eastern edge of Orange County (Orlando), this small town of 422 households boasts more than 60,000 acres of public lands. Green. In every direction of the compass. And lots of water, too. An impressive array of habitats attracts an equally impressive array of flora and […]

Fort Christmas

Fort Christmas

Fort Christmas Historical Park

The full-scale reproduction of the original Fort Christmas that was built on Christmas Day in 1837 is impressive, but that’s just the beginning of this diverse park. Located off of State Road 50 in eastern Orange County (Orlando) in the town of Christmas, Fort Christmas Historical Park offers a full compliment of historical structures and […]

Savage-Christmas Creek Preserve

Beware the Red Trail. Seven multi/use (Hiking/Equestrian) trails wind through at least 3 distinct habitats in the Savage/Christmas Creek Preserve’s 1126 acres. The longest of these is the Red Trail @ 2.15 miles. This is the only trail on the map that is marked as seasonal…and for good reason. This hike was on a cold […]

Savage/Christmas Creek Preserve

Isle of Pine Preserve

Isle of Pine Preserve

The Isle of Pine Preserve is part of an east-central Florida wildlife corridor, along with neighboring Split Oak Forest and Moss Park. These are 3 of Orange County’s little green gems, all snuggled up against scenic Lake Mary Jane. It’s a great area for dayhikes with easy access from the Orlando metro area. There are […]

Clay Island Loop Trail

The Clay Island Loop Trail in the Lake Apopka Restoration Area reminds me of a larger scale Orlando Wetlands Park. This multi-use trail (Hiking/Biking/Equestrian) runs atop berm roads with canals, marshes, swamps and forests on either side. There are several observation decks and towers along the way, including one on the shores of Lake Apopka. […]

Lake Apopka

Indian River Lagoon from Turtle Mound

What’s a Naturalist?

When I first told my wife that I wanted to sign up for a Master Naturalist class, she said, “Okay…what’s a naturalist?” I’m pretty sure she envisioned something akin to being a nudist in the wilderness. A master nudist, at that. Naturally, I assured her that nudity was strictly optional. When it came right down […]

Top Hike: Orlando Wetlands to Seminole Ranch Loop

Both Orlando Wetlands Park and Seminole Ranch Conservation Area are great places to hike. Since they are adjacent properties, I wanted to hike a loop that would take me through both the forest trails in Orlando Wetlands, link with the Florida National Scenic Trail and return me through Seminole Ranch. This 5.89 mile route turned […]

Barred Owl

Marine Discovery Center Dock

Local Experts; Marine Discovery Center

For the majority of my explorations, I thoroughly research the area I plan to explore and then I go. Some of Florida’s Natural Wonders, however, are best experienced with the guidance of local experts…at least until you become familiar with the area. Florida’s crown jewel of estuaries, the Indian River Lagoon, is one of these […]

The St Johns: River or Estuary?

Florida’s St Johns River is one of the few rivers in North America that flows north…that is, when it’s not flowing south.  Confused?  No worries—so is the river.  You see, Florida’s longest river (310 miles) reverses flow twice a day with high tide.  Quite often this reverse flow extends more than 160 miles upriver! Old habits […]

Anhinga Sunning

Ichetuckney Kayaking

Orlando’s Natural Theme Parks; Part 1

Crystal clear springs, lush subtropical forests, National Wild & Scenic Rivers, world-class estuaries and pristine beaches filled with an amazing array of creatures, both great and small.  You won’t find these at any of Orlando’s world-class theme parks.  These are Greater Orlando’s natural theme parks…and they are world-class natural wonders, compliments of Mother Nature. These […]