South Lake and Lake Minneola Scenic Trail


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South Lake and Lake Minneola Scenic Trail Facts

States: Florida
Counties: Lake
Length: 15.5 miles
Trail end points: West Orange Trail at Killarney Station/Old CR 50 & Lake Blvd (Oakland, Orange County line) and CR 565A & Silver Eagle Road (Clermont)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6015522

South Lake and Lake Minneola Scenic Trail Description

About 20 miles west of Orlando, the South Lake Trail (also known as Lake Minneola Scenic Trail) takes in some of central Florida's most spectacular prospects. Nowhere in this region will you find more hills, lakes and wide-open vistas than along this 15.5-mile paved trail. The trail is also part of a larger network called the Coast-to-Coast Connector, which will stretch across central Florida from St. Petersburg to Cape Canaveral.

This trail starts where the West Orange Trail ends at the Killarney Station trailhead. From there, it meanders through hilltops and wooded valleys to Hancock Road, where you can test your hill-climbing skills and ride southeast to Lake-Sumter Community College, or continue west to the shore of Lake Minneola in Clermont. On a clear day, you'll have wonderful views of the entire region, from glimmering lakes to the Orlando skyline. Streetlamps allow for safe nighttime use on this heavily used section.

As it skirts the southern shore, the trail offers beautiful views of the lake. Clermont Public Beach boasts cool water and such trailside amenities as restrooms, picnic tables and parking. Any of the side streets leading away from the lake will take you to shops and restaurants in downtown Clermont.

In 2015, the trail was extended farther west of Clermont to Silver Eagle Road (ending across from the Green Valley Golf Club). The new segment includes two new pedestrian bridges.

Parking and Trail Access

Parking is available at multiple locations along the route.

At the eastern end, parking can be found at the West Orange Trail Killarney Station (17914 FL-438, Winter Garden). The closest parking to the western end is at the Lake Hiawatha Preserve (450 12th St, Clermont).

Check the TrailLink map for all parking locations and detailed directions.



South Lake and Lake Minneola Scenic Trail Reviews

Unexpected & Wonderful

Dec 24, 2023 From AZ with our RV/jeep/Ebikes. We have been in the Winter Garden area for a week and somehow just realized that this trail starts in the same parking lot (West Orange Killarney Station) that we have been using to ride the W. Orange Trail. What a great trail this is! So much to look at. Some under shade/some along a two lane road (never bothers us)/nice parks/and fantastic ride along the shore of Lake Minneola and Waterfront Park. It is 10 miles to Clermont and the Historic Dist on the Lake shore with a beautiful Christmas tree set up by the town.-good lunch stop and then another mile to the Lake Hiawatha Preserve. We turned around at that point for a 22 mile round trip. It got a little confusing where the trail "T's" so I posted a pic of where you actually make the street crossing. This would be a repeat trail for sure!

S Lake/L Minneola

Great paved trails with exceptional facilities at S Lake; very scenic and enjoyable trail - we plan for the late morning to allow the "pros" to fly through the course double breasted (during the Tour de France), you understand. But mid-day was a great riding time.

Safe, paved and scenic

After reading the reviews of this trail we decided to get in the car and drive from Vero Beach. We wanted to stay overnight to get in 2 days of biking and to make up for the 2 hours of driving on the crowded, dangerous highways.

We found the Killarney Station parking area easily enough on my iPhone maps. The park had a bike shop, clean bathrooms and a picnic area to eat our lunch before hitting the trail. We road west towards Clermont. The trail had rolling small hills, was in great shape, a few major but manageable major street crossings but didn’t have continuous good directions. I was able to use my phone map to keep me heading in the direction of west through Lake Minneola and onto Clermont. Eventually a directional sign will pop up to reassure your going the right way.

This trail is definitely worth the trip. We were able to get in 22 miles round trip. We were hoping to stay over and ride the next day in the opposite direction through Winter Garden but all the hotels were sold out for the evening so we drove there instead, had a lovely dinner and walk around the town before driving back to Vero. Kudos to Clermont and Lake Minneola for saving the lake views for this beautiful trail instead of allowing developers to stack homes along its banks. We will be back! (4 stars.. please add a few more directional signs and I will give it 5)

Very Nice Trail although with some missing signage.

Overall, it is a very nice trail that winds through Minneola and Clermont. Very nice connecting trail to West Orange and Groveland that is only a mile from its end. Would like to see an extension towards Groveland as there is not even a sidewalk to go with SR50 in some portions for around half a mile. It would also be nice to see the trail get extended towards the Van Fleet trail as a connector between these two trails. Also, I do really like and appreciate the mileage markers that are present on this trail as well as the Hancock Trail. I know that West Orange does have Mile Markers, but it is done way nicer on these two trails as nice full posts that aren’t just yellow markers.


Nice trail. Eat at Lilys on the Lake. There are restrooms and even park rangers.

Very nice and well maintained. Great scenery.

Still Lack of Signage

Not really sure why the lack is signage on this trail has not yet been improved. Has the county not read the reviews mentioning signage issues? It’s not like it hasn’t been a issue very long. The trail is nice. I rode from the Minneola Trailhead to the Winter Garden Station today. There were no maps of the trail that I could find at Minneola. When heading to West Orange you come to what is sort of a fork in the trail at Hancock Road. There is signage at the intersection but no arrows or plain direction to West Orange. I first took a right on Hancock and followed that trail which clearly wasn’t correct because it takes you to the very busy area in of Highway 50. I back tracked to the fork in the road then went left. Correct way. Still poor signage. Please Orange County fix this issue.

RIght place - right temperature

Very scenic trail, well appointed and easy to ride and enjoy. Reading some of the other reviews about congestion near Victory Park, I realized I picked the right day to ride it. It was a high of 48 degrees that day. The Floridians stayed home bundled in their sweaters and gloves and this Ohio boy went for a great ride wearing shorts and a light jacket! Very enjoyable.

Nice ride but lacking signage

Rode from Killarney Station to Clermont. Had to ask another biker which way trail went toward Clermont. We had to cross a very busy intersection where several cars failed to stop even though we had the crossing signal. Very nice ride with rolling hills and lake views. Highly recommend having lunch at Pepe’s Cantina in Clermont.

nice ride

I ride this trail frequently. It’s a little congested by Victory Park (by the lake) with walkers and joggers, but keep going and it thins out dramatically. Nice, pretty, almost flat ride. A lot of the trail is through woods with limited houses along the way.

outstanding best in central Florida

We road the Clermont to Winter Garden part of the trail. It is one of the most scenic and nicest trails we road in central Florida. Highly recommend it. Start in Clermont, have lunch at the brewery building on the west of Winter Garden and return to Clermont. About 13 miles one way.

Gorgeous Trail - Inconsiderate & Unsafe Trail Users

The trail was fabulous, paved and winding along Lake Minneola. I would love to give our experience 5 stars, but several trail users made this impossible. We had been looking forward to biking this trail on our cruisers and traveled over an hour from Seminole County. We came on a Wednesday afternoon.

The posted speed limit on the trail is 15 mph and those directions are to also use the right side of the path.

Most of the bicyclists were riding touring bikes and exceeding the speed by a considerable amount. In addition, only two out of the more than 40 touring cyclists alerted us when they passed us. Because we didn't hear them coming, a collision nearly resulted in one case. We noticed that several pedestrians and a couple of other bicyclists were also startled at different times by these cyclists with some riding at speeds we've seen when they ride along the highway.

Another issue was people walking in groups spread across the entire path. I was nearly involved in a head-on collision with three cyclists because A walker who was spread across to the far left side of the trail did not yield despite my calling out 3 times "ON YOUR LEFT!" I had no where to go but into a pole or a park bench until she finally moved to her right. At that point I was able to see the other cyclists feet away who were only able to pass just inches from me. It could have been a big mess of bikes AND pedestrians.

Earlier we heard a jogger telling other groups to "break up" due to the same situation. No one walking seemed to hear him either.

I'd like to think that people just aren't thinking about how their use of the trail affects others. I really don't like to believe people are selfish and inconsiderate. Regardless of intent, however, there were at least three incidences that we personally witnessed or were involved in during our one and half ride in which we or others could have been hurt pretty badly.

In the interest of public safety it seems that the trail should be monitored, warnings given to abusers and fines imposed if they choose to continue to behave without concern for others.

awesome trail

The trail is paved and there are great views the entire way. There are parks along the way and places to eat. Such a relaxing and beautiful ride.

Treat yourself to this amazing trail!

Start at the Killarney Station Trailhead & do the whole thing. Plan a stop at Lilly’s on the Lake in the way back. Rode during the Cornovirus social distancing time so Clermont’s gorgeous Victory Point was quiet but still impressive.

Great Trail

It’s a really nice trail to ride pretty much anytime. I love and ride a few times a week.


My favorite park

My favorite trail

My favorite trail

Nice trail!

Very nice, wide trail with lots of beautiful views of the lakes. Also there are opportunities to go off the trail into the town of Clermont. Some reviewers commented about the hills... there are some decent hills for Florida on part of the trail, but they're not bad.

lack of signs- lots of lakes

Started at Lake Minneola trailhead park and headed west to where the trail abruptly ends in Groveland. No signs are an understatement. Trail has several restrooms. 1 water stop and beautiful views of several lakes. Nice suspension bridges, plenty of benches and downtown Clermont Resturant choices. Just sparse mileage markers and virtually no trail signs. Odd. But if you are up for the adventure of not being sure where you are going, it was a fun ride

Fantastic trail

I just rode this trail for the first time, and I have nothing but good things to say about it. In short, the ride is very scenic with a few challenging hills along the way. It's a nice alternative to the typically flat trails that I've ridden elsewhere in the state. The hills are really not that difficult assuming you have gearing. I wouldn't recommend this trail for single speed bikes though. There are a few major road crossings that you have to negotiate along the way, and I can see where pedestrians could be a hindrance while riding around the lake depending on the day of the week, but these are minor issues. I started my ride at Killarney Station at the east end of the trail which is a great place to begin. On the return trip, if you have the energy, you can continue past this point onto the West Orange Trail and ride a few more miles through Oakland into the heart of Winter Gardens (recommended). I assume at some point in time the west end of this trail will be extended beyond its abrupt ending since it will eventually be part of the Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail that will stretch across the state. I've ridden the Withlacoochee State Trail and the Pinellas Trail, and they are both great trails, but all things considered I found this trail to be a better biking experience.

Poor signage; wimpy "hills"

At several points along the way the trail split--but no signs. They have some nice kiosks but with no maps just a bunch of stuff about plants, etc. Nice but I need to have better directions--not just guessing or following other people. The "hills"aren't much but still a little variety from most of FLs flat trails, even with crampy legs the "hills" weren't much challenge.

The new western segment from Hiawatha Park about 3 miles out was very nice; hope they extend it beyond the little bike cul de sac. Overall a nice trail, except for lots of road crossings and lack of signage.

Trail scenery and Lake View = SPECTACULAR

I visited this Bike Trail for the first time yesterday AFTER our typical afternoon rain showers. Luckily for me Sun came back out, Trail was nice and cool. The views from the trail and the lake are AMAZING! Great Leg Workout too. Little hills in Florida - who knew?!?!? LOL

Hills.... finally !

Now let's not get too excited, we are talking about 900 ft of climbing over 32 miles but it is nice since most everything else is flat. Great trail, segregated the whole way, easy to ride. Goes through Clermont which has lots of places to eat, some right on the trail.

We also did the Hancock extension to get the total miles up and it has a terrific view. Highly recommend this trail.

Expect to ride hills on this trail

Two days ago I rode some of this trail, because I got a late start on it after riding the West Orange Trail. Lake County, FL does not provide trail maps to the bike shop, at Killarney Station and didn't have any in a map box attached to an informative sign next to the trail. They also do not list the length of the trail.

Before my bike was hit by a car and I still rode on roads, the longest, steepest hill I rode was a few miles away, from my house. I rode 2 hills, like that one, while riding this trail. As I rode down a hill approaching a road, the trail went both west and north. I rode north, to the monstrous hills, and looked back to see where the west spur went. I could not see it, after it reached the road. I looked again, on the way back to Killarney Station, and did not see where it went.

On the drive down from Georgia the day before, I scouted the Minneola Trail Head and saw that the trail went under US 27. Most of the road crossings, however, are grade crossings and require extreme caution.


Great bike trail! Beautiful ride around lake in the town of Clermont. Nice challenge heading east with lots of rolling hills. Great work out and great scenery! Connects to West Orange Trail so you can ride for miles and miles. Fast or slow it is a very fun and enjoyable ride. One if the best around!

scenic and hilly but too many stops

I got a great workout on this trail but the many stop signs, crossing roads and yield signs took away any sense of relaxation, escape and enjoyment.

Great Ride

I had a free afternoon in Orlando area and could not pass up a chance to ride this trail. I live in the flat portion of Florida, so I love the small hills on this trail. I began at Killarny Station, then west to the semi-circle around Lake Minneola which is beautiful. For a bit more of a challenge, after leaving the lake, I turned south on Hancock just to climb Sanctuary Ridge, I was huffing and puffing but it was worth it. Next was the reward for the climbing effort, I was able to hit max speed on the 12 tooth rear cog for the first time, amazing! It was a beautiful mid-70s day with lower humidity and a slight breeze. It was a GREAT day. I can’t wait until my next trip to Central Florida. For your first ride on South Lake Trail, Killarny Station offers ample parking, restrooms, water station, picnic tables and bike repair and rental shop, while Lake Minneola lakefront also offers food. ENJOY your ride!

Challenging but fantastic trail.

As beginners on hybrid bikes, this was a really nice challenging trail with lots of uphills, gorgeous views and beautiful scenery.

We started at Killarney Station and rode through to Lake Minneola (stopped at Lilly's on the Lake for lunch).

We will be doing this trail again!!


Enjoyable trail. One of my favorites.

Great views, and plenty of rolling hills

Riding the South Lake and Lake Minneola Scenic Trail was the second part of my days journey, which extended from the West Orange Trail. Beginning in Apopka and continuing from Killarney, I started the trail not knowing that for the most part, it included a lot of rolling hills. This was a surprise, but also great since I had not been really challenged with hills on the C.S.T., W.S.T. and C.W.T's. The hills were manageable for the most part when I selected the right gear in the beginning, but several times, I had to change gears while on the hills on the way out.

As with the W.O.T. the ride was mostly wooden natural surroundings, housing developments or subdivisions, some road construction, and a golf course on the route. The path for the most part is very smooth, paved asphalt or concrete pavement. Any discrepancies in the roadway come in the form of some buckles from tree roots, and fallen leaves or small branches or twigs. One thing that didn't bother me as much on the W.O.T. or here was curb ramps, or curb water diversions. There were a few which I hit pretty hard, but for the most part, they were smooth to roll over between streets or intersections. This trail is very peaceful and serene, with plenty of places to stop and take in nature, or to take a break to grab something to eat (out of jersey pocket or backpack). Along the route there are several bicycle shops including the one at Killarney to refuel or to pickup parts, etc. Along Lake Minneola, there's several restaurants to grab a large meal, along with ramps or decks over the lake to enjoy the scenery. There were plenty of cyclist of various experiences and bike types, along with joggers and skaters along several points of the trail. One of my favorite spots was standing on the beach, watching the water, while others sunbathed or ate lunch there.

The end of the trail in Groveland is very nondesrcript, and is just a circular turnaround in the sidewalk ending the trail. I guess I was looking for a "station" like at Killarney or Apopka to end the trail. The ride back to Killarney and Apopka was easier and faster on the way back in, as I knew what to expect, and for the most part, was in the proper gear when "attacking" the hills.

This trail is a great ride whether done alone, or in combination with the W.O.T. The scenery alone, especially Lake Minneola is well worth exploring and taking in. Both rides together is around 64 miles roundtrip.

A Gem of a Trail!

We had a delightful first ride on the South Lake and Lake Minneola Scenic Trailtoday! We began at the Downtown Clermont Trailhead. First we headed west along the lake, about 4 miles until the trail ended. We doubled back to Clermont, continuing along the lake beyond Minneola where the trail takes some uphill climbs. The trail is clean, paved, not crowded, with lovely scenery and homes along the way. While there are a few crossings, they are well marked. The hills on the eastern end of the trail are gentle, but if you haven't been on hills for awhile, they may be a bit challenging. We enjoyed this trail and look forward to coming back soon. We also look forward to experiencing the beautiful town of Clermont, with its unique shops and restaurants, and a farmers market/craft show every Sunday.

Beautiful lakes & hills!

My family and I enjoy cycling along the trail and look forward to future expansion connecting coast to coast. Check out Clermont Waterfront Bikes & Boards 15 2nd St located in the Clermont Waterfront Park. Friendly local owned business for drinks and snacks. Bikes & Boards also rents out bicycles, kayaks, & paddleboards.

Brighter days

beautiful views and good work out

Fairly hilly for Florida standards, well-marked, good surfaces, at times congested in Minneola.

Challenging Hills, Beautiful Scenes

I won't be able to give five stars to any trail unless there are 0 interruptions and the pavement is well lit and sparkling the entire time. That being said, 4 stars is an excellent rating from me. I actually saw other inline skaters and this trail's challenging hills make it popular for bikers.

It was nearing dusk when I approached Lake Minneola. It was an amazing site.
I will submit some photos. I only wish I had more time to skate the entire trail. I had to turn around after heading 17 miles in one direction (I started at West Orange Trail). I ended up skating 34 miles total. This is only something only possible if I can loose myself in the trail's smooth ride along w/ it's scenery.

I do recommend for inline skating...just be cautious because there are some interruptions (sandy construction site). I was easily able to reach 25+ mph on some of the hills and didn't add any scrapes or bruises to my collection.

I would ride this trail everyday if I could. It's been a while since I've skated for miles w/ a big stupid smile on my face. It was the perfect escape after a long week at work.

The Lake Minneola Trail has been extended

We are spending a month in Winter Garden and the other day I rode to Clermont and then explored further. The trail went north along the west shore of Lake Minneola, passing the old Clermont RR station and then turned west, in a new section, generally following Lake CR 565A towards Groveland. This section abruptly ends at Silver Eagle Road and 565A. The total distance now from the Clermont fishing pier to the west end in Groveland is 4.2 miles.

Looking at the map, this new trail extension appears to be a part of the C2C Florida connection. This trail is mostly on an old RR right-of-way.

This is a new section because a week or so earlier I tried to follow this trail section and there was bridge work being done on the west side of Lake Minneola and the trail ahead appeared to be closed.

I'm planning to next ride around Lake Minneola.

Haines City, Orlando, Lake Apopka

It was a perfect day. We started our trip in Haines City and went on to Orlando. We reached Lake Apopka at noon and stayed there the whole day. We spent the night at Americas Best Value Inn on West Colonial Drive which we found on . Next day in the morning we went back home. Hope we can do the trip soon again.

Uphill, then down!

This is a nice extension from the West Orange Tr. Pass Killarney station and you will be treated to some nice hill views and pine tree shaded area. The hills can be challenging for newcomers, but if you stay with it, you will be treated to a beautiful semicircle of Lake Minneola, with shady resting benches and restrooms available, as well as a nearly downhill return journey. I have seen many gopher tortoises and sand hill cranes nesting off the trail. There is some nice informational signage worth stopping to note the Florida wildlife and area plant species, as well a good excuse to catch your breath!
Do not bother with the Hancock will see a sign...keep heading towards Minneola! I made that mistake, and it was a hot, sunny, zero scenery path along a busy roadway...DEFINITELY NOT WORTH THE PEDAL!!!
The main path is nice, but watch for some busy crossings. Not a good one for kids, and not a destination trail either, in my opinion. But for those of us in the area, it makes for a nice excursion.

The Hills of Florida

From the Start at Lake Minneola in Clermont to the Trail Head of the West Orange Trail, this Trail has it All that Florida offers. It has flats, curves and hills. It has scenery and wildlife. It's Challenging yet tamed. If you ever want one of the Best Florida has to offer, by all means come to the South Lake-Lake Minneola to West Orange Trail. Extended Ride can lead to Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner, even shopping in Winter Garden. Also there are a Couple of Bike Shops there too.

Central Florida Jewel

Started from Winter Garden on the West Orange Trail and hooked up with the Lake Mineola Scenic Trail at the Old Highway 50 trailhead. There is a bike rental concession at the trailhead and rocking chairs on the porch to enjoy a snack and a break. The first couple of miles of trail is through lush vegetation with turns and ups and downs. The trail opens up to hills were the remnants of orange groves are being replaced with housing developments. Lake Mineola is a beauty of a lake with beaches and amenities. The ride up the hill to the Clermont trailhead was rewarded with a Farmer's Market and the sweet peaches we purchased there.

Lots of Recent improvements!

We ride this trail (and most of the connecting West Orange trail) often and have always really enjoyed it. Recently there have been many improvements along the trail. Planters have been added at intersections and edges have been spruced up. Also, at most intersections, motorists are usually very courteous and wave us through. It is nice to know that those used to the area are for the most part looking out for us cyclists as much as we look out for the crossing traffic. It is a very pleasant ride.

Also, we have previously found the restrooms at the Minneola Trailhead to be locked as previously mentioned. However this park is being upgraded and the restrooms have been open the last few times we try them. And there are nice restrooms on Lake Minneola in that park only 2 miles away.

Enjoy the hills!

Better trail than some in the area.

This is a great trail if you are looking for a change from most trails in FL. There is a reason why so many people come to Clermont, FL for this trail every day and every weekend. This trail and the area does have a few hills that makes the trip more interesting and fun. Flat trails can get boring, but never this trail/area. Once a few hills are thrown in, it always makes the trip more enjoyable and rewards you a little more for the effort once you arrive at the wonderful Lake Front Park in Minneola, FL. Very family oriented. This trail is guaranteed to get the blood flowing which is a very good thing. Highly recommend a visit.

Little hilly; locked restrooms!

This trail is a little hillier than most in FL--not saying much; very suburban. It's totally connected to the West Orange coming from the east. It has quite a few intersections which can be dangerous--have your hands on the brakes, be ready to squeeze. The far western end goes around Lake Minneola for a ways--very pretty views, great rest areas next to the lake. I both biked & bladed this trail in mid Dec and the weather was fantastic. Mixed shade & sun.

The main downside for me was that the Minneola Trail Head restrooms were locked up--not much fun changing out of doors or relieving myself behind trees especially with a playground nearby. Why would they be locked on a perfect 70* day? I suppose the answer is "budget cuts". Another trail worth checking out but not a "destination trail" by any means.

Officially Opened

"The segment of the South Lake Trail between Mohawk Road and the Orange County line is officially open to the public. This newest segment is both hilly and curvy. For cyclists, I strongly recommend a good set of brakes and a loud bell. You may want to ring that bell before you go around that blind down hill curve! The best places to park are at the Lake Minneola trail head or the Killarney Station on the West Orange Trail. The trail may be temporarly closed at the US Highway 27 overpasses due to construction. "

Official Phase II Ribbon Cutting

"According to Ms. Lori L Conway: , Funding & Production Director, Lake County Department of Public Works; the ribon cutting ceremony will be held Saturday, April 21, 2007 at 10:30 AM.
The event will take place on County Road 50 between Blackstill Lake Road and North Hancock Road. There should be signs posted for designated parking areas.
This event is being coordinated with a Bike-A-Thon, sponsored by the Central Florida Chapter of FPZA: ."

West Orange Trail Connectivity

"On December 24, 2006, I can report that paving equipment was parked on the trail near the Lake-Orange county line.

From web page:
page 3.

Lake County Trail News
Lake County has been experiencing great strides in trails
development both in the county and cities. Check out the
updates below.
The South Lake Trail – Phase II, which will link the Lake
Minneola Scenic Trail with the West Orange Trail, has been
under construction since the summer of 2005 and is scheduled
to open in Jan., 2007. This 5.5 mile link will connect the
existing 6 miles of Lake Minneola Trail with 22 miles of West
Orange Trail giving enthusiasts over 33 miles of paved trails
to enjoy."

Trail on Track-but more costly

Trail on track -- but more costly
A recreation trail linking Lake and Orange counties may cost $1.5 million more than planned, but work on it should begin soon.
By Stephen Hudak
Sentinel Staff Writer

July 10, 2005

CLERMONT -- A recreation trail linking Lake and Orange counties may cost $1.5 million more than planned, but that won't stall the often-delayed, much-anticipated project any longer.

Work on the five-mile leg of the South Lake Trail could begin in mid-October but definitely will start before the year ends, said Michael Woods, Lake County's trail planner.

He said increasing costs of construction materials bumped the latest estimate for the trail extension to $2.6 million, $1 million more than the state has promised Lake County.

But the county, which will unseal construction bids Tuesday, might be able to squeeze more money from the state Department of Transportation for the new leg of the South Lake Trail, also known as the Lake Minneola Scenic Trail, Woods said.

The state envisions the path as part of a 200-mile recreation loop through Central Florida, while the county sees it as a lure for bicyclists, hikers and walkers and their money. The extension will link five miles of paved trail in Lake County to the 22-mile West Orange Trail.

Central Florida's cyclists and runners who huff and puff up Lake County's hilly terrain, training for races, often dodge traffic to get here because of the gap between the trails.

""I'm asked constantly, 'When is it going to be done?' I hope I'm still riding when it's finished,"" joked Mark Marshall, 56, who bicycles about 150 miles a week and co-owns South Lake Bicycles in Clermont. ""Riding out here will definitely be a thrill for some people.""

Woods said the new trail leg will expose Lake County's rolling charms to thousands of bikers, joggers and skaters accustomed to the popular but relatively flat West Orange Trail, which runs from the county line around Winter Garden to Apopka.

More than 77,000 people use the West Orange Trail every month.

""This will open up people's eyes to Lake County,"" Woods said of the new extension. ""They're going to know they're someplace different when they start riding up a bunch of hills they're not used to seeing in Orange County. It's going to be good for them.""

The new leg will run from the Orange County line to North Hancock Road in Clermont.

Like many other recreation trails in the United States, the Lake County trail follows abandoned railroad tracks. Some of the trail snakes along the lines of the defunct Tavares and Gulf Railroad, also known as the T&G or the ""Tug and Grunt,"" which stopped running in 1970.

Planning and design also has begun on another 141/2-mile tail leg that will run west from Clermont and connect to the Gen. James A. Van Fleet State Trail, a 29-mile trail through the Green Swamp, cattle ranches and other remote vistas in Sumter and Polk counties.

The longer leg, years away from construction, will follow the abandoned Seaboard Coast Line Railroad corridor through the county, crossing State Road 50 with a pedestrian bridge in Mascotte, where the highway carries more than 13,000 cars and trucks a day.

Woods said the trail is worth the frustrating fits and starts. It could benefit Clermont and other south Lake communities as the West Orange Trail has bettered Winter Garden, which has sprouted a variety of restaurants and other shops.

""People using the trail get hungry, and they're going to want to spend some money,"" he said.

Stephen Hudak can be reached at 352-742-5930 or

Copyright © 2005, Orlando Sentinel | "

Highest Trail in Florida

"This trail was extended to the east last fall and now goes another three miles to Lake-Sumter Community College.

This is a very challenging stretch of trail and climbs to one of the highest points in Florida, with sweeping views to the south and east.

There's a huge payoff for the climb uphill: An extreme downhill that can yield speeds of almost 40 MPH for even an inexperienced rider. The two tunnels under the road are a cool feature too.

Lake County has some ambitious plans to connect this trail with the West Orange Trail terminus six miles to the east. These two trails alone would be 35 miles long."

North Hancock Road Exention

As of August 2003 the trail extention was paved from Mohawk Road along Old Highway 50 and the North Hancock Road extention to the Lake-Sumter Community College campus. There is some excellent hill climbing opportunities along the Hancock Road extention. Near the community college it was possible to see the Lake Apopka basin.

Phase II

"From webpage:

Lake County Public Works Engineering Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities - Future Projects

Lake Minneola Scenic Trail – North Hancock Extension
This project is located in the Clermont area and consists of new construction of a four-lane divided roadway to extend North Hancock Rd. from State Road 50 north past the Lake-Sumter Community College entrance to Old Highway 50. The work shall include the following: sidewalks, bicycle/pedestrian tunnel for the Rail Trail connection, 12,000’ bicycle trail from Lake-Sumter Community College to Mohawk Rd., chain link fence, street signs, and other miscellaneous incidental construction. The Lake County Board of County Commissioners has funded this project at a total cost of approximately $5,000,000.

This 21 mile corridor will be developed in four phases and when complete, serve as the link between the West Orange Trail and the General James Van Fleet State Trail. This trail will come in close proximity to schools and parks in South Lake County and connect the cities of Minneola, Clermont, Groveland, and Mascotte.

In July 2003, this project appeared to be in the construction phase."

Leesburg and Lake County Trail Plans

"From the City of Leesburg's web site, a list of proposed Rail to Trail projects.

Click the ""Rails to Trails"" link under the ""City Projects"" heading."

Very nice but too short

"This is a very scenic trail around Lake Minneola. Bring a fishing pole - there's a public dock at the trail's west end. The trail climbs in the east leading to an exciting whoop-de-doo at the eastern trailhead. My only complaint is the trail's length -- just 3+ miles. This trail is too nice to be just a teaser. They have hopes of hooking it into the West Orange and General Van Fleet trails.

Clermont is undergoing phenomenal construction. Most of downtown is ripped up or leveled, and they are serious about the housing they are building around Lake Minneola. This town has ambitions to be the next Mt. Dora -- which needs a decent trail, by the way."

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