Salt Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA) - Hiking

The Salt Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA) encompasses more than 7,800 acres in Brevard County. It borders three lakes—South Lake, Salt Lake, and Loughman Lake. A former cattle ranch, Salt Lake WMA is now managed by the FWC. I have hiked it a number of times, spotting a variety of wildlife. Being a former cattle ranch, an inquisitive observer may encounter remnants from the old cattle days in Florida. This is a WMA area, frequented by hunting enthusiasts throughout the year. Fair portions of the trails are actually roads that crisscross the area. You will encounter a variety of ecosystem as you venture around, from wide-open scrub to dense oak hammocks. Down by the river there are pilings from an old dock, quite possibly used to ship out fruit that was grown in the nearby grove. A few orange trees are still flourishing in the area. There also is a documented Indian mound near the river.
I know of at least 4 ways to access the area, none requiring an entrance fee –
  • Main entrance: N28 38.401 W80 53.397 This entrance provides you with plenty of parking, as well as an information station
  • Dairy road entrance: N28 38.317 W80 52.480 This entrance provides you with a small parking area right off Dairy Road. It is a good spot to enter if you want to visit South Lake
  • Hatbill Road entrance: N28 37.853 W80 56.851 This spot off Hatbill Road will take you out to the observation tower/creek crossover. Be aware that you will have to cross another creek that can be quite wide (never very deep). I have found at times I could just jump it, while at other times it was up to my knees and I had to wade it (I did use large/heavy duty trash bags to keep me somewhat dry).
  • St Johns River: N28 35.923 W80 56.915 You can come in by kayak or motorboat. How far you can get in will depend on how high the river is
There are additional ways to get into Salt Lake; I have listed those I have experienced
As I mentioned, I have hiked and done some GEOCaching and Terracaching there. I have by no means seen anywhere near the complete area. I would suggest that maybe if you wanted to get deep into the bowels of Salt Lake WMA that you consider a bike. At certain times of the year, normally just before a hunt opens up, they let you drive the area; that could be interesting – of course this is just for off road vehicles. This is a WMA and hunters maybe present, so pay attention to the hunting seasons and I suggest always wearing bright colors.
From what I have explored, my favorite sections are the areas over by the St Johns River and the South Lake area. This does not mean I don’t like them all, but due to the area's vastness you really have to select a section and enter at the closest point to allow exploration time..
A large percentage of Salt Lake is open to the sun; so warm weather hiking can be pretty difficult. Most all the trails are roads and some of those are “sugar” sand. At different times of the year you might run into water in the lower sections.
As always, please leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but photos. Please consider carrying a small plastic bag to use to pickup any trash that might have been dropped by someone else.

Some hikes can be viewed/downloaded at - WIKILOC Hikes

Map and pictures - click on them to enlarge
Area map


Road/trail to South Lake

Road/trail view

Road/trail view

Road/Trail View

Small pond in middle of WMA

Road/trail out by indian mound

Oak tree on Indian mound

Pilings from old dock on the river


Mark Nathan said...

Where on Salt lake did you find the remnants of this old dock?

Tom Choma said...

The pilings are on the St Johns River located at these GPS coords: N28° 35.997' W80° 56.746'
I visited them a few times; the photo above was taken in Jan 2010, so not sure how good the pilings are. Last time I was there it was pretty overgrown getting down to the river so it made it difficult to get to the pilings. There are remnants of an old orange grove up in the woods above the pilings. Once upon a time the river was deep enough to support large boats which use to go up and down the river, collecting fruit from many of the orange and other fruit areas along the river.