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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 13-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.
From Orlando, take SR 50 west to US 27. Take a right on US 27 (heading north) and continue to Old Highway 50. Take a right (heading east) and follow until you see signs for the trail.
To reach the Lake Minneola trailhead from SR 561 in Clermont, skirt the south shore of the lake, turn right on Washington Street/Old Highway 50 and continue east until you see signs for the trail.
To reach the western trailhead, take SR 50 to 12th Street in Clermont and head north for 0.5 mile. The trailhead entrance is on the right.
Parking is available at both trailheads, and additional parking is available along the route. Check the TrailLink map for more locations.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fairly hilly for Florida standards, well-marked, good surfaces, at times congested in Minneola.
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.
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.
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 http://orlando.hotelscheap.org/ . Next day in the morning we went back home. Hope we can do the trip soon again.
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 extension...you 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
"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. "
"According to Ms. Lori L Conway: LConway@lakecountyfl.gov , 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: www.fpza.org ."
"On December 24, 2006, I can report that paving equipment was parked on the trail near the Lake-Orange county line.
From web page:
Lake County Trail News
Lake County has been experiencing great strides in trails
development both in the county and cities. Check out the
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
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 email@example.com
Copyright © 2005, Orlando Sentinel | "
"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."
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.
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."
"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."
"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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