The entire Lake Apopka loop trail runs over 40 miles around Florida’s third largest lake. While portions of the trail include paved biking trails and roadways, this review is limited to the off-road section between the trailheads at Green Mountain scenic overlook and Magnolia park. Wildlife is numerous along this trail, and riders can expect to see numerous species of birds large and small in addition to alligators and occasional bobcats. The trail is suitable for any type of off-road handcycle. The trail can be done as an out and back of various lengths, or by separate parties going in opposite directions with a vehicle swap. This review will follow the trail east to west.
The trail begins at Magnolia park in Apopka, Florida, a county park with parking, restrooms, play areas, a boat dock and overnight camping facilities. Locate the trail at the north end of the park where it begins as a paved bike trail. From here the trail parallels the road briefly before a brief descent towards the north shore of the lake.
At this point the trail turns to hardpack crushed limestone which can be bumpy in places at higher speeds, but otherwise provides an easy rolling surface in almost all weather conditions. The trail is the remains of an old farming road / dike that was used to wall off the north part of the lake in the early 1900s for farming. At approximately 1.0 miles into the ride the lake comes into view. Look for alligators swimming along the shoreline among the reeds or sunning just off the trail.
The trail follows the lakeshore to the 4.0 mile mark where a large pumphouse station provides portable toilets and an elevated view of the lake. Continue straight, following the lakeshore, noting that the next 2 miles will share the trail with occasional vehicle traffic. Vehicle speeds are limited to 15 mph and most drivers go even slower looking for birds and wildlife so safety is not a concern.
Eventually the bike trail continues straight past a gate preventing vehicle access. From here the trail begins to work away from the lakeshore, although canals and ponds still provide frequent wildlife viewing. At approximately 11.4 miles the trail crosses a bridge over a large canal connecting Lake Apopka with Lake Beauclair before turning south, following the canal towards the lake.
The trail leaves the lake a final time, entering upland Florida scrub habitat. At 17.1 miles the trail begins a series of moderately steep switchbacks on pebble sized loose gravel to reach the trailhead at Green Mountain scenic overlook. Several two and three point turns may be needed here to navigate the switchbacks. The overlook here contains bathrooms and running water, as well as an accessible overlook platform with views over the woods and Lake Apopka in the distance.
Additional Notes: The trail provides very limited shade and no running water sources between the trailheads, so plan accordingly.
Most recent date ridden: April 08, 2017
Trail Name: Lake Apopka Loop (North Shore)
Location: Winter Garden, Florida |
Type: Wide trail (≥ 30″), Unpaved road (open to vehicles), Start and end at different points
Rating: Adaptive Level 3
Steepest Section: Moderate – between 10-30º
Most Off-Camber Section: Flat
Terrain: Mostly hardpack, minimal loose sections
Obstacles: Loose gravel on switchbacks
Help Needed? Nope
Even more info: Lake Apopka Loop Trail Info
Directions to Trailhead
Magnolia Park, Apopka on the east side.
Green Mountain Scenic Overlook on the west side.
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