More than 16 miles of classic east-central Florida multi-use trails (equestrian, hiking, bicycling) await you at Hal Scott Regional Preserve and Park. Three loop trails take you through the flatwoods, open prairies and wetlands that straddle the Econlockhatchee River. Sitting just east of Orlando between the Beachline (528) and S.R. 50, these 9,000+ acres are easily accessible, yet it feels like you’re much further from civilization at times. That is, when the cooling towers of the nearby power plant and the rows of humming wires held high above by structures resembling Transformers (the robots) are hidden from view…which is most of the time.
Right at the parking lot is a small, scenic lake that tends to attract wildlife, especially birds. The Econlockhatchee River is designated an Outstanding Florida Water, flowing north more than 50 miles to join Florida’s longest river, the St. Johns. However, as it runs through Hal Scott Preserve the title “river” seems a bit ambitious. It’s more like a brook or a stream. Paddling is out of the question, but that’s not to say there aren’t some pretty spots along this part of its course. Closer to the St. Johns River, the Econ (for short) is a popular paddling trail >> Paddling Trail Guide HERE.
There is a group camping area along a canal on the White Trail, which was a pig sty of overflowing trash when I hiked out there. I hope the group was held responsible. The good news is that the trash was pretty much consigned to this one spot and not strewn throughout the park. There are a couple of other individual campsites along the Yellow Trail, which I have yet to visit.
These trails are all service roads, which is why they’re multi-use. Don’t expect nice, smooth, well-maintained roadways. There is mud, ruts, and grass clumps in various areas…along with spots torn up by wild hogs. Pretty typical, as much of this area is barely a few feet above sea level. The difference between dry land and wetlands is measured in vertical inches around here. Also, expect to be exposed to the elements — there is precious little tree cover, except along the river.
The Number 1 feature of this park to me? It’s a designated site on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. Bald eagles, bobcats, endangered gopher tortoises and river otters all call this park home. Did I mention that it’s FREE? Know Before You Go >> Check out the Photo Gallery, video, WonderMaps (below) and other information. See if Hal Scott peaks your interest. If not, take a look at our Bucket List and Where-to-Go to find perfect spots for you to explore and enjoy.
WonderMap of Hal Scott hike. Tip >> Click on waypoint flags for location photos.
WonderMap of Hal Scott cycling. Note: I strayed off the north end of the Red Loop, exploring red diamond markers that led into the south end of Bithlo.
Hal Scott White and Red Loops
Hal Scott Yellow Loop North
Hal Scott Yellow Loop South
Hal Scott Regional Preserve/St. Johns River Water Management District