14 Best Hikes And Nature Trails In Orlando Florida

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Orlando is famed for its outstanding collection of water parks and amusement centers, but there’s more to Central Florida than its man-made structures, no matter how impressive they may be. 

For outdoor lovers, there’s no better way to explore the region than by hitting the miles of stunning trails that traverse the area. Central Florida has a unique array of ecosystems, including muggy marshes, prairies, lush lakes, beautiful gardens, and plenty of urban topography. So, whether you’re looking for the best hikes in Orlando proper, or more nature-forward trails in the nearby vicinity, we’ve got you covered.

Lake Eola Loop (1.1 miles) – Lake Eola Park, Orlando

You don’t have to go too far to discover the best trails in Orlando. The Lake Eola Loop sits in the heart of the city and boasts impressive views of the lake and the skyline. The trail follows lovely Lake Eola, and at just over one mile, it’s a pretty easy trek. 

As you walk, jog, or bike along the paved path, you’ll likely see a variety of bird species, including swans, ducks, and geese. If you tire of walking, you can admire the sculptures in the park, join a yoga class, or enjoy a lakeside picnic. 

Note that this is a popular trail, and parking may be hard to come by.

Orlando Urban Trail (3 miles)- Lake Highland Park, Orlando

Another great trail right in the city center is the Orlando Urban Trail. This three-mile paved trail is perfect for hiking and biking, especially if you want to explore the central Orlando area. 

The trail runs from Loch Haven Park to Mead Gardens in downtown Orlando and passes by six lakes, the Orlando Cultural Park, and the Gaston Edwards Trail. You’ll also have access to all the shops and restaurants in the downtown area if you need to take a break along the hike.

Three Lakes Loop (5.3 miles) – Split Oak Forest Wildlife and Environmental Area, Orlando

If you want to get out of the city without going too far, head to the Split Oak Forest Wildlife and Environmental Area. This massive park sits in southeast Orlando and features several hiking trails. 

The Three Lakes Loop is a sandy trail that takes hikers around several lakes. This is one of the best hikes in Orlando on a hot day, as the lakes provide a nice breeze to hikers. As you walk, you can enjoy lovely views of the lakes and the forests that surround them.

Lake Underhill Park Loop (1.3 miles) – Lake Underhill Park, Orlando

The Underhill Park Loop is a short and easy trail located just outside the city center. The trail encircles the southern half of Lake Underhill and takes less than half an hour to complete on average. 

The path is wide and paved, making it a popular route for hikers, joggers, and bikers. If you aren’t ready to head back into the hustle and bustle of the city after your hike, you can stick around the park and spend the afternoon fishing, kayaking, or birding.

Turkey Lake Nature Loop (1.8 miles) – Bill Frederik Park, Orlando

Located just ten minutes from the central business district, the Turkey Lake Nature Loop is one of the best hikes in Orlando. This short and easy trail sits inside Bill Frederik Park, one of the largest parks in Orlando city limits at 183 acres. 

As you hike, keep your eyes peeled for a variety of bird species, including herons, ibises, and more. The entire park is a nature lovers paradise, and if you’d like to experience the great outdoors for longer than one afternoon, you can stay overnight in a cabin or pitch your own tent at the campground. Note that there is a $5.00 entrance fee per vehicle.

Lake Baldwin Park Loop (2.5 miles) – Lake Baldwin, Orlando

A favorite amongst locals, the Lake Baldwin Park Loop is a great hiking trail not too far from the city center. As the name suggests, the trail follows the perimeter of Lake Baldwin, offering great views as you hike. 

The path is paved and flat, making it easy and accessible. Like other urban trails in the Orlando area, there are several restaurants within walking distance of the lake if you work up an appetite during your hike.

Airport Lakes Trail (.8 miles) – Airport Lakes Park, Orlando

Looking for a quick hike not too far from the city center? Check out the Airport Lakes Trail. At less than a mile, this is the perfect place to stretch your legs after a long flight – and the trail happens to be right next to the airport!

Aside from the occasional airlane overhead, you’ll feel worlds away from civilization as you walk along the scenic boardwalk trail. Take your time and observe the wildflowers, search the treeline for wildlife, and soak up the Florida sunshine. If you want to hang out in the area after your hike, you can play a round or two of frisbee golf or enjoy a picnic at one of the tables.

White Blaze Loop (4.3 miles) – Hal Scott Regional Preserve and Park, Orlando

For a deeper dive into the nature surrounding Orlando, head to the Hal Scott Regional Preserve and Park. This massive 9,000-acre preserve is home to a large population of local wildlife, including tortoises, river otters, bald eagles, and more. 

There are 17 miles of trails within the park, ranging from easy to moderate. The White Blaze Loop is one of the best hikes in Orlando if you want complete solitude on the trail, and at 4.3 miles, it can be completed in under two hours.

Shingle Creek Trail (4.6 miles) – Orlando

The Shingle Creek Trail network is an ever-expanding project that will eventually connect Orlando to other nearby destinations, including Orange County, Osceola County, and the City of Kissimmee.

For now, the trail stretches about 4.6 miles and contains both rural and suburban landscapes along the Shingle Creek waterway. The route goes through neighborhoods, around lakes, and through nature corridors, providing a variety of scenery for hikers. You can hop on the trail at Eagle Nest Park, just north of the Mall at Millenia.

Mead Botanical Gardens Loop (1.1 miles) – Mead Botanical Gardens, Winter Park

The Mead Botanical Gardens sit just north of Orlando in the nearby city of Winter Park. At just over one mile, the Mead Botanical Gardens Loop is an easy hike for all skill levels. 

The gardens have a lot more to offer than just the hiking trails, however. There’s also a butterfly garden, a greenhouse, and tons of lush foliage to admire as you make your way along the trails. Admission to the botanical gardens is free!

Wekiwa Springs Trails –  Wekiwa Springs State Park, Apopka

Some of the best hikes in Orlando can be found about 20 miles north inside Wekiwa Springs State Park. There are seven hiking trails inside the park, plus a water trail that’s great for paddlers. 

The intricate trail system traverses a myriad of landscapes, with emerald springs, tropical hammocks, and sandy uplands. As you hike, you’ll be able to observe a variety of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, turkeys, gopher tortoises, and maybe even the rare bobcat or black bear. 

Trails range from easy .9-mile jaunts like the Wet to Dry Trail, to longer, more challenging routes like the 12.4-mile Wekiwa Springs White Trail Loop. There is a $6.00 entrance fee per vehicle.

Black Bear Wilderness Loop (7 miles) –  Black Bear Wilderness Area, Sanford

In just 30 minutes from Orlando, you can find some remote wilderness and a great hiking trail. The Black Bear Wilderness Area in Sanford is home to a unique collection of flora and fauna, including black bears, cypresses, snail shell fossils, swallow-tailed kites, and more. 

As you hike along the 7-mile Black Bear Wilderness Loop, you’ll walk over levees on boardwalks, which offers a great (and safe) vantage point of the area. The trail follows St. John’s River, and as you hike, you’ll get to see cypress swamps, wet prairies, marshes, and more.

Scenic Nature Trail (3.6 miles) – Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve, Winter Garden

Many visitors to Orlando are in town to visit the theme parks, but if you need a break from Disney World, you can head over to the nearby Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve in Winter Garden. 

The preserve has a 3.6-mile trail, perfect for reconnecting with nature after a busy day in the crowded park. To make a full day out of the nature preserve, you can visit the environmental center, the butterfly garden, or enjoy a picnic.

Seminole-Wekiva Trail (13.6 miles) – Altamonte Springs

If you consider yourself a skilled hiker and are looking for a challenge, the best trail in Orlando is the Seminole-Wekiva Trail. This point-to-point trail stretches a whopping 13.6 miles and runs through Seminole County. 

One section of the trail is part of the Florida National Scenic Trail, and other sections were once a part of the former Orange Belt Railway. Large trees provide shade for much of the trail, and there are bathrooms and water stations along the way. Of course, if you don’t feel like completing all 13-plus miles, you can pick one section and head back the way you came.