The South Lake Trail System has its ups and downs, quite literally. The terrain, that is. This countryside is part of the Lake Wales Ridge, playfully known as Florida’s Mountain Country. Certainly there are no hills and valleys here that can compare to those in the mountains to the north, yet for the flattest state in the country, this paved trail showcases some beautifully rolling countryside. My Garmin showed an impressive 1417 feet of elevation gain on my 33+ mile ride.
Perhaps that’s why both national and international cycling pros train on this trail system. Clermont is dubbed the “Choice of Champions” for its popularity among cycling’s elite. But don’t let that intimidate you. I was plenty happy to plod along on my tank of a fat tire bike, even as riders on featherlight bikes blew past me. It’s a multi-use trail, so there are walkers, joggers, bike riders, skaters, families and pros all enjoying miles of scenic Lake County.
This trail system consists of the South Lake Trail, the Lake Minneola Scenic Trail and a spur called the Hancock Trail. The Lake Minneola Scenic Trail is simply the center section of the South Lake Trail…and the most scenic section, much of which hugs the shoreline. The waterfront in Clermont is really quite nice, with a park that includes a nice splash pad area and a full array of amenities. Here the trail also connects to historic downtown Clermont with shops and restaurants who cater to cyclists…and anyone else with $$ to spend. lol
The main trail is about 12.5 miles long and the Hancock spur is nearly 2.5 miles, so combining both trails out and back you can ride a total of 30 miles. I clocked a tad over 33.5 miles, because I double-backed one section. Want more miles? Another great feature of this trail is that it seamlessly connects with the West Orange Trail (WOT), an additional 20+ miles of paved biking bliss. In fact, I started my ride from Killarney Station, the westernmost station on the WOT.
Take a look at the video, map and links — I think you’ll want to get out here. Looking for more places to enjoy Florida’s Natural Wonders as you bike, hike or paddle? Check out Where-to-Go and our Bucket List. There’s a beautiful place to play somewhere near you.
South Lake Trail PDF Brochure and Map