After impatiently waiting more than a year and a half for Black Bear Wilderness Area in Sanford to reopen, I finally got a chance to hike this 7+ mile trail. I was not disappointed. Even before I started my hike, I saw a black bear. Unfortunately, it was getting into a non-bear-resistant trash can that a careless resident set out. This is not the bear’s fault.
In fact, I saw 2 black bears, a coyote, and a half dozen wild hogs. Also alligators, owls, swallow-tailed kites, hawks, osprey, butterflies, dragonflies, and more. But one encounter was the most bizarre I’ve ever experienced — sure wish I could have filmed it. I noticed a granddaddy alligator swimming very fast in a beeline toward something in the river that was just out of sight. As I frantically maneuvered to get to a better view, I heard incredibly loud thrashing going on in the water. I couldn’t imagine what the gator attacked, until I saw a large black bear scrambling onto the opposite shore of the river. He quickly shook off water and raced into the woods. The alligator floated on the river, seemingly stunned. I think he saw the bear’s head moving across the river, but didn’t realize just how large it actually was…until the bear turned on him.
Much of this loop trail runs along the St. Johns River, the longest river in Florida. Most of the trail is atop a berm, while 14 new boardwalks traverse ravines and wetlands. The boardwalks range from short, simple affairs to long and complex — one even includes a floating dock. When you see the workmanship, you’ll understand why it took so long to reopen this trail. Major kudos to the work crew and everyone involved with Seminole County’s Leisure Services Department and their Natural Lands Program team.
I encourage you to check it out, whether you’ve been to Black Bear before the upgrades or never been before. Take a look at the Photo Gallery, WonderMaps, and links provided — I think you’ll agree it’s worth investigating. And just down the road you’ll find the Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park, Rock Springs Run State Reserve, and Seminole State Forest…all part of the great biological diversity in this neck of the woods.
Looking for other places to explore by land or water? Check out our Bucket List and Where-to-Go to find the perfect outdoor spots for you, whether hiking, biking, paddling, snorkeling, horseback riding or looking for the perfect picnic area. The main thing is, get out there and enjoy Florida’s Natural Wonders!
Black Bear Wilderness Area hiking WonderMap. Tip >> Click on waypoint flags for GPS location photos.
Black Bear hiking, Garmin version.
5298 Michigan Avenue
Hours of Operation: Open Dawn to Dusk