Trail

Black Bear Wilderness Area Trail, Black Bear Wilderness, Florida

Orlando, FL
Length: 27.00 mi.
Type: Loop

About This Trail

[Total: 0    Average: 0/5]

ACTIVITIES: Hiking, camping

LENGTH OF HIKE: 2 miles or 7 miles

OUT AND BACK OR LOOP: Loop

DIFFICULTY OF TERRAIN: Moderate

ELEVATION GAIN: 45 feet

PARKING FEE/PASS: No

TOILETS: No

CHANGING TABLE: No

NURSING BENCHES: Yes

DOGS ALLOWED: Yes

BIKES/HORSES/MOTORS ON TRAIL: No

CELL RECEPTION: Yes

DRINKING WATER AVAILABLE: No

POTENTIAL CHILD OR BABY HAZARDS: Ticks, poison oak, stinging nettles,
lots of roots and uneven ground, possible alligator presence

GEAR SUGGESTIONS: Hiking poles

If you are looking for a hike that feels like a  real hiking boot–wearing adventure, check out the Black Bear Wilderness, a 1,600-acre reserve in northwest Seminole County that features a variety of wetland habitats within the floodplain of the St.
Johns River. Check out the 2- or 7-mile version of the Black Bear Wilderness Loop Trail, much of which runs along the river.

The park is home to animals like the white-tailed deer, barred owls, coyotes, swallowtailed kite, American alligators, and river otters. And if you are quiet, you might even spot the park’s namesake: a Florida black bear. Keep an eye out for musk turtles, which might cross your path. You might even catch a whiff of them before you see them because these turtles will release a foul musky odor from scent glands on the edge of their shell if they feel threatened or nervous.

Being that it’s such a large piece of land and close to other public lands, this is one of the most diverse parks you will find in Florida and can feel more like North Carolina than the typical swamplands of Florida. This is not to say you won’t find the typical Florida fauna and flora, but expect trees and a combination of boardwalk and more of a trail-like feel.

The site is located on a floodplain of the St. Johns River, so during the rainy season, this park might be closed due to flooding. Also, hurricanes have been known to affect the park for periods of time, so make sure to check on whether or not it’s open. Crystal Osborn suggests a combo of carrying and letting kids walk, but remind your little ones not to get too far ahead (there are alligators) and that there are lots of tripping hazards with many exposed roots on the trail. This is a very kid-friendly park, though, because there is about a mile of boardwalks (14 boardwalks traverse the terrain) for kids to run on if they are new little walkers and need a stable surface to negotiate the trail. There is even one floating boardwalk that is fun to venture on. You can choose to do the 7-mile loop and stop at the primitive campground, where you will find a concession stand to grab a quick snack.

Speaking of camping, you can opt to stay overnight and make a little more of an adventure out of this park. Camping is reported to be a little crowded, so expect this to have more of a “parking lot” backcountry type of feel with tents close together instead of a remote experience.

A few things to be aware of: bugs and snakes. They are plentiful, so bring lots of spray and watch where children are walking. The park is home to pygmy rattlers and cottonmouths, both of which are venomous. Snakes are nocturnal, though, so
chances are you won’t see them. But keep in mind they are present on the trails, as they most likely hide in holes and under rocks.

WHY IT’S A FAVORITE
“Black Bear Wilderness Area is very different from your normal Florida hiking trails. With the more intense terrain and different habitats you walk through, it makes for an enjoyable hike for the whole family. Also, it’s a good length. Completing the 7-mile loop is a wonderful workout but not too long that you overexert yourself for a single day hike.” —CRYSTAL OSBORN

INSIDER’S TIP
The best time to visit is winter because it will be nice and cool. Also, depending on the GPS in your vehicle, it might take you down a dirt road and you might think you’re lost. Keep going! You’re not lost. It’ll be on your right as you approach.

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Trail Features

Seasons Fall, Spring, Summer, and Winter
Elevation gain 45 ft.
Stroller friendly No
ADA accessible No
Water fountains No
Bathrooms No
Cell reception Excellent
Pet friendly Yes
Nearby convenience store No
Camping Nearby Yes
Emergency support
within 5 miles
No

Trail highlights

Boardwalk, Camping Nearby, and Wildlife Viewing

Trail Contributor

[Total: 0    Average: 0/5]

Hike it Baby Trail Guide is managed by the Family Trail Guide team. If a trail has been “abandoned” by the initial owner, it gets adopted by the team. Also, if there are no trails in the area, the Family Trail Guide team researches trails that are family friendly in the area to insure that hikes cover all areas where Hike it Baby hikes.

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