Econlockhatchee Sandhill Conservation Area - Hiking

At Econlockhatchee Sandhill Conservation Area 700 acres lay awaiting exploration. There is a red blazed trail leading out of the parking area on Lake Pickett Road that eventually leads to a yellow blazed loop trail. I not only hiked the trails during my visit, but also ventured out and around, exploring many of the old roads that crisscross the area. Venturing down along the Econlockhatchee River allowed for many photo opportunities.

Expect to encounter sandhills, mesic flatwoods, and scrubby flatwoods on the Eastern half of the property, floodplain swamp on the Western half along the Econlockhatchee River, and some patches of mesic flatwoods on the Western border. You also will come across a variety of plants, trees and wildflowers in the area. The wildlife you encounter will depend both on the time of the day, and the day of the year you elect to visit. The day I was there, my encounters included hawks, songbirds, some mammals and what I didn’t like, a 5ft diamond backed rattlesnake.

The blazed trails are about 3.5 miles in length. It is about .8 miles to the yellow loop trail from the parking area. Keep a careful eye out for the red blazes when around the powerlines, as that area is quite open and they can be hard to spot. Though it is always possible to become disoriented, getting lost on the trails in ESCA isn’t possible, as it is completely fenced in on most sides and the river is on another side. I used my GPS to track my movements throughout the area and it recorded that I explored over 7 miles. Most of my time was spent looking around scrub area I hope to get back and explore the river area further in the future. The part of the river area that I did venture into was just beautiful, as it seems are all sections of the Econlockhatchee River. Cypress trees, various vegetation, as well as wildlife are always abundant in river areas. A river otter frolicking in a small tributary provided a great deal of entertainment.

During my April visit I came across walkers, bikers and a couple on horsebacks. If GEOCaching is one of your fortes, there are a few of those in the area - some caches call for a little more of a hike than others. The blazed trails make this a very family friendly area.

As I mentioned earlier, I encountered a 5 ft+ diamond backed rattlesnake (off on one of the old roads, not on a blazed trail) - the sound of that rattle really startled me! I froze until I could determine where it was. Once the rattler determined that I wasn’t a real threat, it slithered away - I did get a picture of it before it left. So be keen to their existence and should you come across one, just respect their presence and everything should be ok. Some horses had gone by him just a few minutes before I arrived in its spot; I believe that is what really disturbed it.



In conclusion, when in the Orlando area consider this a great spot to visit. It is part of what is hoped to be connected areas along the Econlockhatchee River. It is pretty open and sandy in spots, so bring water and snacks and make sure you use sunscreen. Parking is free and there is an information kiosk at the start of the trails. No entrance fee required. Just remember to please, take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints!

Some GPS Locations
  • Parking area - N28 35.262 W81 09.347
  • Red Trail Off Powerline - N28 35.595 W81 09.304
  • Yellow Trail Start - N28 35.705 W81 09.329
  • Spotted Rattle Snake - N28 36.127 W81 09.059
  • Fence Line - N28 36.039 W81 08.956
You can see other pictures of the area at -
Econlockhatchee Sandhill Conservation Area

Some hikes can be viewed/downloaded at -
WIKILOC Hikes

Map and pictures - click on them to enlarge

Area Sign

Information Kiosk

Colorful Trail

Oaks View From Trail

Fence Line

Trail View

River Area

Boundry Aerial View

My Tracks

7 comments:

thrift-81437 said...

Hey Tom,

I went and hiked the trail and it was really a good trail!! I am so glad you post these hikes. (I just wish there were more.)

When you hike all of the trails in the books... you feel like you run out of options for new hikes. Then you run into Tom's page and find out there are many more to hike!!

Thanks from the bottom of my boots,
Mark

Jeff W. said...

Tom,

I'm a UCF student researching the Econ River preservation effort, along with researching the encroachment of suburban development. I am not a hiker by any means, but I would like to explore along the river itself. From what I have found, there are very few ways to walk to the river except by hiking the trails, which I am certainly not experienced in. If you could give me some suggestions I would be much appreciative.

Jeff

Tom Choma said...

I certainly would be happy to answer any of your questions - but you must let me know how to contact you - you can email me at tecmisc at gmail.com

carol said...

Can anyone tell me if our bikes would do good here- if only at the powerline road? We are hoping to go here soon.

Tom Choma said...

Hi Carol, I'm not a biker, but I did talk to a fellow on a bike when I hiked this area. Besides the trails there are some old roads which you could use. I also ran across some people on horseback out there, so I assume all are welcome. As long as everyone respects everyone else, all should work....Tom

Sam said...

This post and associated comments are a little old at this point, but I rode this trail this morning on my Motobecane 600HT and did very well. I got bogged down, as any bike would, in some of the softer sand, but the bike handled the various other terrain without issue.

Sam said...

This post and associated comments are old now, but in case anyone else happens across this blog same as me and is wondering whether or not the red/yellow trails are suitable for bikes - yes, they are just fine.

I've recently begun exploring the area on my Motobecane 600HT and have had no issues with terrain or manageability.

I would advise bringing water if you plan on spending an extended period outside. While you're never really that far from a main road, actually getting back to it can take some time as the trails/roads/paths/etc. tend to wind around a bit.