Like a jigsaw puzzle piece, Seminole State Forest’s irregular shape snaps right into place against the nationally-designated Wild and Scenic Wekiva River and the Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park. These properties are joined with Black Bear Wilderness Area, Rock Springs Run State Reserve and Wekiwa Springs State Park to protect the Wekiva watershed.
The Florida National Scenic Trail (FT) runs right through Seminole State Forest and across Blackwater Creek, a major tributary to the Wekiva River. But I also wanted to try and incorporate a loop into my hike for maximum variation of scenery and habitats. With this in mind, I decided to start on the FT from Bear Pond Trailhead and branch off on the Lower Wekiva Loop, then take a connector back to the FT, closer to Blackwater Creek. From there it’s just a short piece on the FT to the creek.
Returning entirely on the FT made the hike one large loop, with a short out and back connector at each end. Unfortunately, my Garmin battery died at the halfway point, so it’s map only shows the trip out to Blackwater Creek, but not the return on the FT. However, this PDF Map of the trails is spot on. The trails were all well marked, too.
This route provided exactly the wide variety of habitats I was hoping to hike through, from classic Florida swamps (currently dry) to high and dry scrub featuring another Florida classic — sugar sand. There are patches of pine forest, while other areas are predominantly mixed hardwoods. Some areas offer shade, others are entirely exposed. And running right through the middle of it all is Blackwater Creek, a perfect place to sit and enjoy the natural surroundings.
I did come upon a couple of very nice backcountry campsites, both of which are shown in the video below — one is right on the banks of Blackwater Creek, but the other is more remote. So, whether a casual day hike or a through-hike on the Florida Trail, I definitely recommend a trip to the Seminole State Forest. Looking for other places to hike, bike, paddle and more? See Where-to-Go and my Bucket List. Most importantly, get out there and enjoy Florida’s Natural Wonders!