The St. Johns River floodplain has dropped significantly since the start of hiking season. It’s possible you’ll hit puddles and a little standing water in Bull Creek, Tosohatchee, Seminole Ranch, and Bronson, but things have dried out significantly.
Although the signs along Deer Park Road at Deseret at US 192 and Nova Road say the road is closed, hikers have been getting through just fine. So have tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles. Osceola County officially states the road is closed “until further notice” because of damage to bridges from Hurricane Irma flooding. FTA has issued a notice to hikers and confirms that Osceola County plans to start rebuilding the bridges at Wolf Creek and Pennywash Creek. The county’s original “late January” date has come and gone with no changes along Deer Park Road. Should the bridges at Deseret actually close, we’ll post an update here.
ECON BRIDGES CLOSED
Signage at the Geneva Wilderness trailhead on 12/10/17 says that the bridges over the Econlockhatchee River in Little Big Econ State Forest are closed. The official word is an equestrian rode a horse across them and damaged the decking. Seminole County has posted them as closed until repaired, but local recreationists have removed the county’s barriers and have been crossing them anyway, as they report them as being passable with caution.
Here is the Notice to Hikers that FTA posted on 12/14/17 regarding this situation. Per the notice, follow Snow Hill Rd north to the white-blazed trail that starts just north of the highway bridge over the river to resume your walk in the woods, reconnecting with the FT on the north side of the river at the bridge at the Flagler Trail. See this map.
NO TRESPASSING SIGNS in OVIEDO
These have newly popped up this hiking season in the segment between Round Lake Park and the Cross Seminole Trail, where the trail enters the woods to follow the old rail bed. It’s not fenced off. If you’re using the app, you can find a road to walk around.
PLANS UNDERWAY FOR MAJOR MOVE OF FT ROUTE
FTA and the US Forest Service participated in a well-attended ribbon-cutting at Split Oak Forest in January to call attention to the new route that is being put in place for the FNST through the Orlando metro area. See map below. FTA states via social media that this route should be in place before January 2019. It does not affect current season hikers. We’ll share more details as they emerge.
DESERET CLOSURE ALTERNATIVE ROADWALK
FINALLY, IF you need to go around that closure, here is the most efficient route we could determine:
1) Leave Bull Creek via Crabgrass Rd from the hunt camp on the west side of loop, 2 miles north of the loop junction after you leave Forever Florida. Use either Crabgrass Rd (a dirt road) for 6.8 miles, or follow the forest roads shown on this map through Triple N WMA between parking areas to its camping area along US 192, where free tent camping is permitted and water and vault toilet available. Check in with the camp host. Crabgrass Rd is 6 miles of rural dirt road, plus 0.8 mile west along south shoulder of US 192 to Triple N. Total mileage (via Crabgrass Rd) 10.7 miles if starting from Forever Florida’s Illahaw campsite, 23.4 miles if starting from Three Lakes campsite.
2) Continue west from Triple N along south side of US 192 through Holopaw (resupply) and Harmony (resupply) to Old Melbourne Hwy. Enter Lake Lizzie Preserve and follow red trail for 3.1 miles to established camping area. Use this map to find the camping area. The preserve is owned by Osceola County and on their website says $15 for a campsite. Call 407-742-0200 (weekdays, daytime) or reserve online.
Total day’s mileage 16.4.
3) Leave Lake Lizzie Preserve camping area along the blue trail to the northern trailhead of the preserve at Midland Dr. (1.6 miles on trail). Back to roadwalking: Midland to Bass Hwy to Pine Grove Rd northbound to Nova Rd eastbound. Access to water is extremely limited. Once past Deer Park Rd and Cox Creek, rejoining the FT, there are places where hikers can camp in the DOT right of way outside the Deseret fence. Total day’s mileage 21.8.
4) From camping north of Cox Creek to Tosohatchee Tiger Creek camp via FT is 15.8 miles.
HIKING DETAILS for the Orlando section