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Central Florida nature exists in its purest form along four miles of the Wekiva River and Blackwater Creek. For thousands of years, Native Americans valued the abundance of wildlife in this area. This system of blackwater streams and wetlands provides habitat for black bears, river otters, alligators, wood storks, and sandhill cranes. Visitors can stroll along the Sand Hill Nature Trail for a self guided tour of the native Florida plants and wildlife found at the park. Canoeists can paddle through the park on the Wekiva River. Equestrian camping is available in designated areas and can be reserved by calling Wekiwa Springs State Park. Horse stalls and corrals are available for equestrian campers.
There are three access points to the Lower Wekiwa River Preserve State Park: the hiking trails at the south entrance are located at 8300 W. State Road 46, Sanford, Florida 32771, the Wekiva River can be accessed at Katie's Landing located at 262 Wekiva Park Drive, Sanford, FL 32771, and horseback riding and hiking on the Fechtel Tract is located at 38015 Fechtel Road, Eustis, FL 32726.
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Lower Wekiva River State Preserve is comprised of almost 18,000 acres of environmentally significant land, bordering six miles of the St. Johns River and the lower four miles of the Wekiva River and Black Water Creek. The state of Florida purchased almost 5,000 acres of the preserve in 1976 to protect portions of the Lower Wekiva River while allowing recreational use. Additional purchases in 1994 and 1995 have formed a wildlife corridor along the Wekiva and St. Johns rivers connecting to the Ocala National Forest.
Historically the timber industry has always played a large park in this area of Florida. Unfortunately, most of the old growth cypress was logged out of the Wekiva River before the river was protected by the Florida Park Service. Loggers would float the timber down river to be taken to saw mills. The Wekiva River is also designated as a National Wild and Scenic River by the National Park Service. It is one of only two rivers in Florida to meet the requirements for this designation. This added protection helps ensure that the Wekiva River will be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.
Hunting was also a popular activity before the State of Florida purchased the land that is now Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park. There were many cabins located in the area for hunters; today, the only cabin left from those days is found on the Preserve. The area was stocked with pigs in addition to the natural game of deer, turkey and bear. The non-native hogs which thrive in the low-lying swamps of the park proved to be very destructive to native wildlife, such as ground nesting birds.
Horseback riding is a popular activity today within the Preserve. An equestrian trail riding group that frequents the park held a benefit fundraiser for our Citizen Support Organization (CSO). They raised enough money during the weekend to purchase the materials to construct new horse corrals at the Fechtel Tract of Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park. In addition to raising the money for the corrals, a volunteer work weekend was established to build the new corrals. This strong and passionate volunteer base is the sole reason the park is able to offer these new structures that are used and enjoyed by all equestrian riders. Volunteers use their skills to provide invaluable services to the park and are greatly appreciated for their time and effort.
Getting Involved Opportunities:
Welcome from the Wekiva Wilderness Trust, the not-for-profit volunteer organisation that supports Wekiwa Springs State Park, Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park and Rock Springs Run State Reserve. We have many volunteer opportunities from helping to run the nature center and conducting guided walks to river patrol and assisting rangers in the park. Our Board meets in the park at 5.30pm on the first Wednesday of every month and visitors are very welcome. For more information about volunteering and assisting the Trust please call 407-884-2006
All three access points to the Lower Wekiva River State Park are open from 8:00 a.m. to sunset, 365 days a year.
Information on access to the Preserve can be obtained by calling Wekiwa Springs State Park at (407) 884-2009. The park's business hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Honor Admission: $3.00/car with up to 8 people, $2.00 pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass is charged at Katie's Landing.
No fee is charged for day access at Fechtel and the Southern trailhead.
Primitive Camping Fees: $5.00 per person, per night, plus tax.