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 2 separate trailheads at the 464 acre Isle of Pine Preserve. The western trailhead, located in the Isle of Pines Subdivision (go figure), is for the Green Trail (PDF Trail Map). This is the trail that takes you out to Lake Mary Jane, where a picnic table awaits at the most scenic spot. Beyond the lake I continued as far as I could before the land turned swampy. In all I clocked 1.77 miles.
The eastern trailhead is in Lake and Pines Estate, just a short drive away. Here there are 4 different colored trails. I did a combination of the blue and orange trails, which were dual hiking/equestrian trails…though I saw no signs of recent horse visits. Much of the trail was wet, which is probably the case most of the year. Check the WonderMaps below and you’ll see this is a land of wetlands.
But this is also a beautiful pine forest with splashes of wildflowers and colorful grasses. Still, the most striking part of the hike is at the far end of the Orange Trail: Planet Snag. A snag is a dead tree that’s still standing, but in various degrees of decay. Here it seems there’s a forest of them, almost all former pine trees. In most areas there were still a few live pine trees mixed in, and in several areas there were yearling pines blanketing the ground.
So, did I mention it was a fairly windy day? Check out the video below and you’ll see. It wasn’t gale force, but it was enough to rock the trees. Including the snags. Lots and lots of snags. Snags have 2 tendencies, especially on windy days: Lose limbs and fall down. The area is littered with evidence of these tendencies. And yet someone was thoughtful enough to place a nice bench right in the middle of it, limbs large enough to kill a moose scattered about.
Still, I am a fan of snags…just not so much on windy days. They have a real beauty, especially against deep blue skies. Birds and scores of other creatures depend on them. They really are a sight. Just be wary…and never pitch camp near them.
Know Before You Go >> Check out the Photo Gallery, Video, WonderMaps and other information below. See if this looks like a place you’d like to explore. If so, go! If not, check out our Bucket List and Where to Go to find the spots that are made just for you.
The Green Trail WonderMap: 14010 S. Lake Mary Jane Road, Orlando, FL. GPS Location: 28.361912, -81.172325 TIP >> Click on waypoint flags for GPS location photos.
The Multi-Trail WonderMap: 14032 Lacebark Pine Rd, Orlando, FL. GPS Location: 28.361776, -81.163210 TIP >> Click on waypoint flags for GPS location photos.