Seminole Ranch Conservation Area is the southern 6,000 acres of the nearly 30,000 acres that comprise the Seminole Ranch Conservation Area of classic central Florida combined with some truly unique features. For instance, the lakes within Seminole Ranch (Harney & Puzzle Lakes) are not exactly fresh water – salinity levels approach 1/3 that of ocean water. Ancient seawater trapped far below leaches into the freshwater springs. No other location along the entire 300+ miles of the St. Johns River hosts this unique habitat.
In fact, Seminole Ranch was the first area purchased for protection under Florida’s Save Our Rivers program. 12 miles of pristine St. Johns River flow through the conservation area and 4 1/2 miles of the Florida National Scenic Trail meander through this lush subtropical paradise.
Seminole Ranch is part of a much larger mosaic of public lands that create a wildlife corridor running north – south, so it’s connected with Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area to the south, Orlando Wetlands Park (right across the street from the Christmas, FL trailhead), St. Johns National Wildlife Refuge & Salt Lake Wildlife Management Area to the east and the Little-Big Econ State Forest, Charles H. Bronson State Forest and Buck Lake Conservation Area to the north.
This hike was from the Orange County (Christmas, FL) trailhead, out to Charles Bronson State Forest & back, with a slight side track on the return. Yes, like many Florida trails, you’ll find plenty of options to wander down fire roads & side trails.
One of these side trails connects to Orlando Wetlands Park, but that’s another hike, as is the hike to Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area. The north entrance from Hatbill Road off Route 46 near the Brevard/Seminole County line provides another range of experiences, including a wildlife viewing platform, canoe/kayak launch & primitive camping.
A note of caution: This is a Wildlife Management Area, so be aware of seasonal hunting, when it’s best to avoid hiking – or at least wear safety orange and make plenty of human sounds as you hike, like singing or whistling a tune or talking loud.
Check out our Photo Gallery & WonderMap (below), then put this Natural Wonder on your Florida Bucket List for Nature Lovers.