Orlando Wetlands consists of 1,220 acres of man-made wetlands situated on 1,650 acres of land near the St. Johns River. The wetlands is divided into 17 cells using 18 miles of earthen berms and 36 water control structures. A 75 acre lake, known as Searcy Lake, was created in order to provide the fill dirt necessary to build the elaborate berm construction.
Each day up to 20 million gallons of highly treated wastewater is pumped into the Orlando Wetlands from Seminole County's Iron Bridge Plant. The inflow can be monitored from the observation deck located at the west end of the property near Wheeler Road. After the nutrients are filtered out by the aquatic plants the water is allowed to flow out of the wetlands and into the St. Johns River.
Over 160 species of birds, deer, alligators and snakes make their home at Orlando Wetlands.
Located in east Orange County near Christmas, Florida.
From I-95 exit 79, go west on State Road 50 for about 11 miles. Turn right (north) on County Road 420 (Fort Christmas Road) and follow road for about 2.5 miles. Turn right (east) on Wheeler Road and drive for about 1.5 miles. Parking for Orlando Wetlands will be on your left.
Park is open 7:00 A.M. until 1/2 hour before sunset, seven days a week, February 1st - November 14th (closed November 15th - January 31st).
Orlando Wetlands has over 9 miles of hiking trails. The trailhead is located near the pavilion next to the parking lot. Make sure you sign in and pick up the self-guided trail brochure at the kiosk. The brochure offers descriptions of plant life and other features located along the trail. The first mile, known as the South Woods Branch, will take you through hardwood hammocks before ending at the edge of Lake Searcy near a bird observation deck.
From here you follow the berm trail (a dirt road) around Lake Searcy for about a mile before the trail leads off into the woods again. This section of the trail is known as the North Woods Branch and it follows some of the old logging trails through oak trees and cabbage palms.
The trail then crosses a bridge spanning over Orlando Wetlands outflow before connecting with the Florida National Scenic Trail.
As of 2010 Orlando Wetlands no longer allows camping or cooking fires on the property. However there are still two marked campsites located just off the hiking trails. One, called Seminole Campsite, is located only a few minutes from the parking lot. It consists of a chickee (pictured above) and several benches. The other campsite site, called Orange Mound, is located in the north-eastern part of the property. Only a campsite sign can be found at this location.
Color infrared aerial map of Orlando Wetlands showing hiking trails, camp sites and roads. Aerial photo was taken in 2000.
Bulltongue Arrowhead, Wild Petunia and Golden Canna
Last updated on 2-Feb-2013