Lake Apopka Loop Trail


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Lake Apopka Loop Trail Facts

States: Florida
Counties: Lake, Orange
Length: 14.6 miles
Trail end points: Magnolia Park on Binion Rd (Apopka) and Clay Island Trailhead on Carolyn Ln (Astatula)
Trail surfaces: Crushed Stone, Gravel
Trail category: Greenway/Non-RT
ID: 8227652

Lake Apopka Loop Trail Description

The Lake Apopka Loop Trail is nearly 15-miles. There’s an abundance of nature as well as some background history regarding the lake. Spanning across former farmland along the north shore, Florida’s fourth largest lake, once second, is currently a restoration in progress after the soil had been poisoned with pesticides and the city, after buying the land, allowed it to flood.

The trail was proposed by the Friends of Lake Apopka to boost appreciation for the suffering lake in Orange and Lake Counties. It may one day tie into the West Orange Trail and other paths to circle the 50-square-mile lake. With improved water conditions, wetland plant species are returning. This is a wonderful trail for nature lovers; a popular birding destination; with abundant alligators and occasional raccoons, otters, and turtles.

There is very little shade anywhere on this trail. Restrooms are at Magnolia Park, a port-a-john at the old pump house at mile marker 4, and near the Green Mountain Overlook. There is also a restroom about a quarter mile from the North Shore Trailhead in the nearby McDonald Canal Boat Ramp. Other than parking, there are no amenities at the Clay Island trailhead. Take plenty of water and whatever else you need.

Parking and Trail Access

The Magnolia Park trailhead is located in Orange County's Magnolia Park at 2929 S. Binion Road, Apopka.

The North Shore trailhead is located at 24500 County Road 448A, Mt. Dora. Follow the spur that heads east from the parking area for one mile to link up with the trail.

The Clay Island trailhead is located at 22526 Carolyn Lane, Astatula.

Lake Apopka Loop Trail Reviews

Lots of wildlife

Pick a cloudy day and maybe a mountain bike. Lots of gators and birds. We started from the green mountain trail head and I would start at one of the other trailheads instead. They spent so much on the trail head that there is no money to maintain the trail and the first two miles are extremely rough.

Be prepared

You will need to bring water and sunscreen , the right kind of bike and a camera. There is no real shade except at the 4 mile mark from Magnolia Park. Limited water too but beautiful scenery if you start from Magnolia Park. The first half mile is pave then goes to crushed stone packed but there are some loose rocks so be prepared in case you get a flat tire. Trail surface is similar to Katy Trail in Missouri.

Extemely Disappointing Trail

If you don't have a full-suspension mountain bike, I would recommend NOT doing this trail. If getting your teeth almost rattled loose, then, yes, this is the trail for you. I started out @ the Green Mountain Trailhead parking area. I expected crushed stone on the switchbacks coming off the mountain, but I expected that to turn into asphalt at "lake level". For the next 8 miles, I kept expecting pavement, but was sorely disappointed. I had initially expected to do the whole 17-mile O/W (34 mile R/T) trip to Magnolia Park, but quickly realized that would turn into a whole-day affair at my average speed of 8 mph. To say nothing about the wear-and-tear on my body. Absolutely horrible rutted, pock-marked, eroded limestone the whole way. I finally "bailed" at the North Shore Trailhead (the 8-mile mark). Rather than take that horrible trail back to the Green Mountain Trailhead, I resolved to take roads back -- which added 4 miles to the trip but was worth it. This, in spite of having to climb two substantial hills towards the end of the ride (Green Mountain is a sister mountain to Sugarloaf Mountain, with similar climbs).

Also, the scenery is rather bland. Barren scrub brush with no trees. Flat as a pancake. Some people claim there's substantial wildlife. I didn't see any. I did hope to maybe see a gator sunning itself, but no luck.

Out of curiosity, I went to Google Maps to see what the Magnolia Park end of the trail looks like. As far as I can tell from satellite view, as soon as the trail leaves Binion Road out of Magnolia Park, the limestone starts. It may be in better shape than the horrible stuff I encountered, but I'm not going to waste my time finding out. Lake & Orange Counties have much better trails.

One of the best non-paved trails in Florida. Yes the trail is rough but no rougher than the C&O Towpath. Lot of wildlife to stop and admirer.

One of the best non-paved trails in Florida. Yes the trail is rough but no rougher than the C&O Towpath. Lot of wildlife to stop and admirer.


Need a mountain bike with wide tires and shock absorbers to ride comfortably. Lots of birds, water fowl

Need a mountain bike with wide tires and shock absorbers to ride comfortably. Lots of birds, water fowl

rough ride

We were on recumbent trikes and this trail beat us to death. It’s a stretch to call it crushed stone and there was no asphalt that we saw. It is a rough gravel road.

rough ride

This trail isn’t crushed stone or asphalt. It’s a rough gravel road. We were on recumbent trikes and it beat to death. Wish we could have seen all the wildlife that we were told Is on this trail.

Really rough ride

We tried to ride this trail in several places. It is more like a gravel road than crushed stone. We ride recumbent tricycles and it was just too rough for us. We had been told by many of lots of wildlife on the trail. Really looking forward to seeing that. Just not a trail for us.

rough ride

We found no part of this trail that was paved. It was a gravel road at best. We ride recumbent trikes and this trail beat us to death. Maybe, if you’re younger, or don’t mind being bounced around you’ll be fine. We were looking forward to seeing all the wildlife people talked about. It was just to rough for us.

Amazing for Wildlife

We rode this trail on Nov 18, 2022 on a perfect 65 degree day. It's true there is no shade so something to consider if really hot. It was amazing to us: we are from AZ and old (76) and used our pedal assist ebikes. We usually ride paved or asphalt and this was a well packed dirt road and was no problem. There was so much to look at did not even think about the few bumps. We parked at Magnolia Park Trailhead. I read this used to be closed but open now-a beautiful park and great bathrooms. We only did about 8 miles up and then back-so much to look at. Saw 10 alligators sunning themselves a few feet from the path, 2 bald eagles, 2 turtles and many ducks and different birds. At the old pumphouse? maybe 5 or 6 miles in there are two shaded picnic tables. I would do again and again. The lady at Spin City cycles in Apopka told me sometimes you can 100 alligators. They do cross the trail apparently at times heading to the marshy wetlands on the other side of the trail. Trail is elevated like on a levee but not much above the lake.

lots of wildlife!

Great ride for seeing wildlife. I’ve seen bobcats, alligators, panthers, turtles, birds, snakes, and more. The magnolia Park trailhead is closed but you can access the trail at the McDonald Canal or Green Mountain trailheads. Must use mountain bike as trail is mostly gravel. There are a few lookouts you can climb to get a better view of the area. There’s also quite a few covered benches along the way.

So Many Gators!

The Magnolia Park Trailhead off Binion Road is currently closed and is torn up due to construction so you will be redirected to Lust Road. It’s a shame because it cuts off some scenic mileage - hopefully they’ll be done soon but the trailhead was really torn up. Without the Magnolia Park entrance it is all packed limestone which can get a little bumpy. Once you get going there isn’t any water until you reach Green Mountain Overlook. It was a beautiful ride with very little elevation change before Green Mountain Overlook.

Trailhead is closed

Need to access the trail from 2050 Lust Road.

Highlight of our FL bike trip but beware Magnolia Park is closed till Spring 2022

We used the new, temporary parking just off 2850 List Road, the entrance to the only on weekends Wildlife Loop for cars. This temp lot is open daily and you can walk your bike through the opening left at the gate. However, the wildlife on the trail and the fact that it's closed to cars during the week makes up for it. We rode to Limpkin Point. The trail varies in comfort, sometimes a bit rocky, definitely not for road bikes. We took about an hour, stopping to see the wildlife and scenery. There are clean port-a-potties at the pump house and close to the trail entrance.

This a beautiful trail, it is very peaceful and the wildlife is breath taking

This a beautiful trail, it is very peaceful and the wildlife is breath taking

Perfect "quarantine" ride!

Trail is open during this Covid-19 crisis and barely anyone on it yesterday. 1st time for me and I loved it--surfaces are comfortable, scenery just beautiful with water on both sides and you feel really removed from things. Only activity was some water district work in a couple of sections but we passed right through. Saw 8-9 gators--some fairly up close! We did a few diversions so it was about 21 miles--I want to go back!

great trail

Love this place, so much wildlife and such a beautiful breezy ride. Wasn’t sure how to get the the other trails though? We decided to turn around at pump house, that was enough for us seeing as though we are beginners.

Easy to ride and it has beautiful scenery. I had such a nice ride I didn't I had gone over five miles. I will most definitely be back

Easy to ride and it has beautiful scenery. I had such a nice ride I didn't I had gone over five miles. I will most definitely be back

Rough ride

Beautiful scenery but ride is very rough, part of the trail is concrete that’s coming apart.

Great Nature Ride Trail!

Awesome bike ride for those who don't need paved trails. There is nature galore with many species of birds and alligators everywhere. If you go down all the various paths you can easily exceed 30 miles of riding. The paths are from decently smooth to very rough. Recommended that you have a bike with suspension for your own comfort. A regular bike could make it of course but many areas with a very rough ride. There is a bathroom and water fountain at the trailhead but only porta potties in a couple of other places. Cars are alowed in certain parts from Friday to Sunday but shouldn't be a real issue for bikers.

as nature as it gets !

I was surprised how isolated the trail was! It was very surreal !! Plenty of wild life and fresh air!!!

trail closed at Magnolia Park - bummer!

Drove over an hour to do trail - and it’s closed!

no asphalt that I saw

We came in on the north spur and headed east. If I knew how bad the road was I would have been better prepared. We started out on hard-packed gravel which wasn’t too bad, but as we traveled east, the road deteriorated to a bumpy semi-paved trail. This was much worse than the gravel. We had to slow to 10-12 mph. After we let some air out of our tires, it was a little better but had to closely watch the road for bumps and holes.

Wilderness galore

Let's clarify - the name is a misnomer, it is not a loop. It is out and back on same path. Plentiful gators, up close and personal. We planned to stop at covered picnic area to find it populated by a few 4 footers. Fortunately, they scattered as we approached on our bikes. Needless to say, we sat atop the table back to bak to ensure a 360 view. Much larger gators in water and crossing path.
Love that there are long stretches to allow you to gain speed or cruise and take in scenery. We spotted an owl, soft side turtle, cougar prints and more.
Nice place to get out int he wilderness without travelling far.

Trail Closed

This trail is closed at this time.

Beautiful Scenery

Nice ride with lots of birds and gators. Didn't see a slot of other riders. Very nice but bumpy in places. Safe parking with restrooms. We stopped at La Prada Mexicana grocery and deli 5 miles down from the trailhead and got great homemade tamales to take on the trail.

Lake Apopka

What a great trail to enjoy nature. Walked with the dog 5.5 miles in and then back out. Lots of gators and birds. It definitely isn't a loop, 18 miles one way. Ran into several people riding bikes and the winter bird count was going on. Also trail markers every 1/2 mile for emergency or tracking your distance.

Continue on to Green Mountain for a longer ride

This is a fun trail but the review is incomplete as you can turn left just before Clay Island and continue on to the Green Mountain Trail-head ( To loop the lake you can run south on the paved road from Green Mountain, through Montverde, and on to the Kilarney Trailhead for the West Orange Trail, then continue on West Orange for 10 miles and take a left on Ocoee-Apopka Road. From there it is about two miles to Binion Road, take a left and you are about 1/4 mile from where you started at Magnolia Park. It is a fun ride!

great workout

I have a Felt 29er and got a great workout. got held up by a 12 foot gator who was enjoying the sun just off the trail. rode around him and never looked back. did the whole trail out and back, it does not loop and is well marked. Make sure you have water and enjoy the scenery.

Watch out for the Alligators !

As others have stated, the trail is not smooth - it's compressed sand and gravel, so you can't hurry. For walkers, it's fine, but it would be useless for skateboarders and in-line skaters. I rode on a hybrid and as long as I rode slowly (7-8 mph) it was OK, although a bit hard on the old behind. Think of this more as a nature trail than a bike trail and you will get the idea. It's "Wild Florida" at it's best - birds everywhere and even the occasional turtle. However, what you will see are LOTS of alligators. Not little, just popped out of their shell - "aren't they cute" alligators, but BIG "I haven't eaten in a while and you look like my dinner" alligators. And I mean dozens, all with that evil grin. They are all along the shoreline as well as in the water. If you startle them, I promise they will startle you as well. If you are thinking of taking Fido for a walk, I would keep him on a short leash. I can just see one of these monsters chomping down on a small pet before you could say as much as "here boy!".
So take your time, stop along the trail and enjoy what's left of Florida's wilderness. And look out for the peacocks in Magnolia Park. They are spectacular and very tame but I think they expect to be fed!

Not recommended unless you have a mountain bike!

Cons First:

It is not a loop!!

We have hybrid bikes and while the bikes were okay, it was an extremely uncomfortable and bumpy ride.

It ends without any sort of signage, so if you simply continue where the trail leads, you will end up on top of a hill. The trail was so uncomfortable that we didn't want to go back so we were forced to take an alternate through. We went through Montverde and down to Killarney Station of the West Orange and gave up!


Interesting wildlife. We saw tons of gators, birds of all kinds and beautiful scenery, although some of it was also marred by what looks like old government science experiment wastelands (like something out of the show "Lost").

Overall, not our favorit etrail in Central Florida so far.

Let's Beat The Heat and Enjoy Nature.

Be sure you start early, this will help with the heat and rain.

I experience a close encounter with a few gators, there are a lot of gators (all sizes). If you are a bird lover you will enjoy this trail.

Just make sure you bring plenty of water/snacks for yourself and stay away from the water! Enjoy and remember to be safe, Florida weather can change quickly.

D. Dominguez

Beautiful Scenery - Rough and Bumpy - Mountain Bike Suggested

This is one of the most scenic views of Lake Apopka I have seen. I road to Magnolia park from the west Orange trail, only a couple miles on some side walks and side streets.

Once arrived, I noticed there were was almost no one on the trail, which I found to be very nice. I was wriding my cycle cross bike, usually good for compacted gravel and paved trail. I would strongly recommend a bike with shocks. I can also see this being a wonderful trail to walk on.


Wear bug spray!

I have completed two sections of the trail. First from Mongolia park to the pumphouse. The wide path is not paved but something like compressed crushed stone. Lots of potholes. Would be most comfortable on a mountainbike or beach cruiser. Very little shade, some views of the lake. Lots of wildlife. Anytime we stopped we were swarmed by biting flies and mosquitoes. It is a marsh and lake!

Next trip in July we started at the north trailhead and went towards the pumphouse. The first half mile of trail reminded me of the potholes but not as bad, but then to my pleasant surprise after a turn the road smoothed to crushed rock in great condition. The first 4 miles were through more of a marsh area, best seen from bike or horseback. I could not imagine walking itin the summer. Very little breeze, lots of hungry bugs and humid in the marsh area.

From a bike you can see out into different areas of the marsh. Tons of birds also saw turtles, family of raccoons, a coyote who was not to concerned about us, and several very large gators on the trail. One was about 15 feet, and we almost turned around. Some shouting got him to move back into the water.

Not far after the gator, at about 4 miles the trail takes a couple of turns and then arrives at the edge of the lake. The breeze is nice, but the trail goes back to the horrible potholes surface. The pumphouse has porta potty and a small pond filled with big gators. There is a short section of the trail you have to share with cars taking the wildlife drive, but its one way for cars and they go slow and are polite.

The turns on the trail are well marked as there are multiple roads on levies. Each one is marked with a sign that says Stop! Turn around for loop trail.

So wear bug spray. .. bring lots of water, watch out for gators and enjoy a ride.

A Must-See Trail for Nature Loverrs

Don't let the crushed stone surface deter you; it is pretty much compacted all the way, and is very rideable. I have ridden the entire trail, and nowhere was I forced to stop. It can be a little rough, with many potholes, but it is not a problem if you watch where you are going. I prefer to ride my old beach cruiser on this trail, but I have seen many people with hybrids and road bikes. The trail is virtually flat except for a slight rise and descent at the bridge over the Apopka-Beauclair Canal.

The best section of the trail for viewing 'gators and birds is from Magnolia Park west for about 6 miles, but the entire trail is worthwhile. You will likely see large 'gators from a very close distance.

There are nice picnic shelters at the old pump house (mm 4) and at mm 8.7. Be sure and carry drinking water, as there is none on the trail.

A friend and I made the 21-mile round trip from the Clay Island trailhead to the old pump house and back on Monday, March 16th. We saw many alligators and birds, 2 raccoons, and 3 otters.

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