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Portions of the 13-mile South Lake Trail, centered near Clermont, FL, are particularly scenic, with views along Lake Minneola and other lakes and sweeping vistas on the sand ridges. The trail connects with the West Orange Trail to create 36 miles of continuous Central Florida biking through Lake and Orange Counties. East of Clermont, the South Lake Trail intersects with the Hancock Trail (open vistas, smooth, and hilly - popular with road bikers). Together, these two trails are now referred to as the "South Lake Trail System." The Trail also serves as a link in the Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail (C2C), with plans to extend it west to the Van Fleet Trail. (Detailed map and photos below.)
South Lake Trail System Map
Location: Lake County (Clermont)
End Points: Groveland (Silver Eagle Rd.) to Clermont Waterfront Park to Killarney Station (West Orange Trail)
Mileage: 13 miles
Surface: Asphalt, 14'
Trailheads/Parking: Lake Hiawatha Preserve Trailhead, West Lake Minneola Trailhead, Victory Pointe, W. Osceola St at 8th St., Clermont Waterfront Park, Clermont Boat Ramp, Minneola Park Trailhead, Killlarney Station (West Orange Trail) (See map)
Nearby Points of Interest: Florida Citrus Tower, Lake Louisa State Park, Clermont Historic Village, Sugarloaf Mountain, Walt Disney World, Bok Tower Gardens
Road bikers and triathletes seem to enjoy the hills this trail offers. Clermont, at the midpoint of the Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail, is a designated Florida Trail Town. The Minneola Scenic Trail Section along the waterfront between Clermont and Minneola is particularly enjoyable. A nearby on-road trip is to tackle Sugarloaf Mountain, the highest point in Central Florida at 312 feet above sea level (this is a popular motorcycle route, be careful).
In early 2015 a 3.5 mile trail extension was opened, running between Clermont and Groveland as part of construction closing gaps on the Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail - plans are to expand this section westbound as the C2C grows. The extension along CR561 and 565A includes two bridges and the new Lake Hiawatha Preserve Trailhead (parking, restrooms, picnic, pier). There's limited parking at the trailhead, but more across CR561 at the Preserve.
The trail continues next to CR561, crossing a bridge lakeside (where it enters Clermont City Limits), to West Beach Park (parking, restrooms, playground). Here, it leaves the roadside, and continues along the waterfront to Victory Pointe Park (parking, restrooms, event pavilion, observation tower). Just past here, Clermont Waterfront Park begins.
Past Epic Cycle World and Lilly's on the Lake are two options, follow the path down to the promenade and go along the waterfront (but watch for pedestrians), or continue straight on the bluff overlooking the promenade. Here the trail has been widened and parking area enhanced; then it angles back to the waterfront. This section is well buffered from the road, picnic tables and benches are provided, you'll see fishermen on the shoreline.
Past Champions Splash Park is extensive parking at Clermont Waterfront Park trailhead, plus the beach, picnic pavilions, restrooms, playground. Another realignment of the trail is approaching the new Clermont Boat Ramp, with parking and restrooms.
More About Clermont: Located at the midpoint of the Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail (C2C) and recognized as a Florida Trail Town, Clermont - called "The Choice of Champions" due to its athletic training facilities - is implementing a Master Plan including upgrades to Waterfront Park and the planned Legacy Loop Trail Bypass connecting South Lake Trail to Downtown Clermont. South Lake Trail has been realigned since our last visit to incorporate the new Victory Pointe Park, and the new Clermont Boat Ramp. With restaurants, shops, and nearby accommodations, Clermont is well poised as a popular stop for C2C bikers. (Updated: July 2020)
Past the Boat Ramp, the trail crosses Lake Minneola Drive then runs roadside about 1/2 mile before breaking away at Main Street. Continuing to Minneola is a pleasant shaded ride (and one of the few trails with streetlights). The underpass at US 27 is a positive.
Minneola Trailhead has parking, restrooms, ball fields, basketball court, playing fields, playground, picnic areas, and a dog park.
Here the trail runs along Old Hwy. 50 on the central Florida sand ridge, sporting the highest elevations of any rail-trail in the state. Featuring open vistas and some challenging hills on the sand ridges, this is a popular location for triathletes in training. The trail joins the Hancock Trail (6.5 miles, leading to the National Training Center at South Lake Hospital) briefly before crossing N. Hancock Rd.
The trail flattens out. Paralleling Old Hwy. 50W, this is a pleasant section of trail.
The 1.5 mile section west of Killarney Station is shaded with some nice hills and turns. Connects to the West Orange Trail.
Hancock & South Lake Trail in Minneola and Clermont Florida , from our friend Dave at Phonamana
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