Sitting just east of Orlando is a 30,000 acre slice of natural Florida known as the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area. I’d driven the primary 20+ mile triangular loop to check out the property, take pictures, etc., but I’ve been wanting to ride it on my fat tire mountain bike while checking out some of the multi-use trails.
So it took less than 5 minutes to scrub the whole multi-use trail thing. Right off the bat the trail was swampy wet and overgrown with lots of branches and trees down. No problem. I figured at least the main roads, while dirt, would be fine. And for the most part, they were.
I started on Powerline Road, then turned right down Fish Hole Road to head toward Lake Charlie for the first leg of the triangle. This is a great stretch of dirt road with plenty of tree cover for shade. There are a few water features along the way, including water flowing across the road — In one place there’s even a water depth gauge on the road. Fortunately for me, the water on the road was very minor, but with all the recent rains, water was flowing everywhere through the swamps.
After crossing under the Beachline (Rt.528), I decided to check out Mud Lake, but found there’s not much to see, so I turned around and headed onward. Lake Charlie is a great stopping point, like a small park within a park. There are picnic pavilions, restrooms, and a nice observation deck. I lingered here for a bit.
Refreshed, I headed south to see how far I could go. The road deteriorated. It was soggy, a bit on the spongy side, so the going was tough. Finally I reached a point where the road was flooded for as far as I could see, so I turned around, knowing I still had 2 more legs of the triangle to complete.
The next leg would take me northeast on Long Bluff Road to where Powerline Road meets the St. Johns River. Tosohatchee boasts 19 miles of pristine waterfront on the St. Johns, Florida’s longest river, by the way.. This part of the ride still had occasional tree cover, but it’s thinner than on Fish Hole Road. I did linger in the shade a couple of times along the way, because I knew what was coming.
The power lines seem to go on forever and there’s not a scrap of shade to be found, except in the shadows of the power poles. The payoff is the riverfront. As expected, it was running high after all the rains being fed to it through Tosohatchee and other flood plain properties. It was just beautiful, swift and dark, a perfect mirror.
And then the challenge of Powerline Road. The good news is that the sun was at my back and puffy white clouds were starting to fill the sky. Mid-80s and so much humidity it felt like breathing through a wet face cloth. Did I mention how daunting it is to look down miles upon miles of arrow-straight power lines?
Before I even start I know that when I get to the furthest point I can see on the horizon, I’ll still have to go to the furthest point I can see from there. And then I’ll have to do it again. Still, my car and ice-cold a/c is waiting for me, so I head out, straight into an annoying headwind. No tree cover = no wind block. The midday air is stirring. And what’s this? Oh, better still — they just cut both side of the road with a bush hog, leaving clumps all over the road.
Finally I saw a glimmer of silver and knew I was home free. Truly, despite the heat and humidity, I thoroughly enjoy my ride and I encourage you to check it out, too. Of course, the cooler months are best, but you need to be aware of the Hunt Schedule, since this is a Wildlife Management Area. Check out Hunting Season Safety for Non-Hunters.
Once you see the links and Photo Gallery, along with the map, slideshow and video below — I think you’ll want to visit. Looking for other great places? Take a look at our Bucket List and Where-to-Go. Now go on…get out there!
Garmin map of my ride:
On the Banks of the St. Johns River:
Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area; 3365 Taylor Creek Rd., Christmas, FL 32709