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
Econlockhatchee Sandhill Conservation Area
Some hikes can be viewed/downloaded at -
Map and pictures - click on them to enlarge
Oaks View From Trail
Boundry Aerial View