Did you know that Lake Apopka has a Wildlife Drive? This drive is a one-way 11-mile drive that snakes (no pun intended) through the property. It begins on Lust Road and ends on Jones Avenue.
The drive is completely free, but they do welcome online donations to assist with recreation maintenance. There are little QR code signs throughout that you can scan from your car and it will take you to the donation page.
When you first drive in you can pick up a leaflet that gives you some more information, and they also let you know there are signs throughout the drive with QR codes that can be scanned to listen to their audio tour.
The speed limit is 10 MPH but there are plenty of places if you wanted to pull over to look at something as they just ask that you don’t stop and block the road. This was hard at times because the road can get quite narrow with water on either side, so if someone up front stopped we all had to. I was fine with this because it meant there was going to be something cool to check out at that spot once we reached it!
As you drive along, you get the opportunity to see so much wildlife, we chose a rainy day so we didn’t get too may gator sightings, I’ve seen people post gators all along the sides of the road they were driving down at times! Which sounds crazy but you’re inside your vehicles so its safe and such an opportunity!
We did get to see some close up including a really large one, I’m not going to guess how many feet it was but it was huge even from a distance!
A lot of people come here to bird watch, it is one of the top three birding areas for the entire state (includes Everglades National Park and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge).
The Lake Apopka North Shore, where the wildlife drive goes through, is considered one of the most renowned birding destinations in Florida, with 369 different bird species.
During the winter months, more than 150 species regularly use the property, from snowy herons and egrets to numerous tiny warblers and flycatchers. Other wildlife commonly seen include numerous American alligators, bobcats, otters, bears, raccoons, armadillos, and coyotes. I really wish I had seen some of the otters!
It was really something you could do with the whole family as you are driving slow enough for the kids to be by the window if you feel comfortable, which our daughter really enjoyed looking out and searching for the different wildlife.
There are a few restrooms along the way which is helpful as the drive could take up to three hours depending on how many stops you make along the way. There are also a few picnic pavilions so you can get out and stretch your legs and stop for some lunch together. The locations are all listed on the trail guide map. You can bring dogs but they must remain on a leash at all times.
There are also areas marked as a white trail suitable for hiking, biking, and even horseback riding on a 6-mile loop on Clay Island.
The wonderful part of this trail is that I feel that each time you visit, it will be a completely different experience. One time you may see gators, another time many species of birds, so it’s somewhere you could visit again and never be bored. I feel it’s so wonderful they did this trail, I wish I had heard about it sooner, but I will definitely be coming back often, I need to see some otters still!
The Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive entrance gate is open between 7 a.m and 3 p.m on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays. All vehicles must exit the drive by 5 p.m. You can find more information on their website.
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