East Central

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

Once an area known for its numerous muck farms, the Lake Apopka North Shore has been restored to beautiful and scenic land that is now known for its numerous opportunities to view wildlife.

In 1941, the 20,000 acres that make up Lake Apopka’s north shore were separated from the 50,000-acre lake. The runoff of fertilizers and farm waste polluted the lake and depleted oxygen from the lake. Vegetation that provided a food source for the area wildlife died off, and soon after, wildlife disappeared from the area.

In the 1990s, restoration of the North Shore began, and these restoration results are magnificent. The North Shore is once again full of life and vibrant color.

John and I spent several hours driving the one-way 11-mile drive and had the wonderful opportunity to see dozens of alligators and many different species of birds.

The speed limit is 10 – mph and the amount of time it takes to take the drive depends on how many stops you make along the way. There are designated pull-off areas where one can get out of their car, enjoy the view and take pictures. John and I took over 200 pictures and spent about 4 hours enjoying the views.

The driving trail provides an excellent opportunity for those unable to hike or bike, to view wildlife in a natural setting.

The Lake Apopka North Shore is one of the best birding destinations in Florida.  Other wildlife routinely seen include numerous American alligators, bobcats, otters, bears, raccoons, armadillos, and coyotes.

Lake Apopka is the state’s fourth-largest lake and is fed by a natural spring, rainfall, and stormwater runoff.

The Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive entrance gate is open between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays. All vehicles must exit the drive by 5 p.m. Restroom facilities are provided along the drive in the form of port-o-lets.

  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Presidents’ Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas

The Wildlife drive entrance is located at 2850 Lust Road in Apopka, Fl.

Hiking, Biking and Horseback Riding

The Lake Apopka Loop Trail follows the lake’s edge through the property, covering more than 20 miles and providing hiking and biking opportunities. There are four trailheads for the Loop Trail with restrooms at the Green Mountain, North Shore/McDonald Canal boat ramp, and Magnolia Park trailheads and port-a-lets at the historic pump house. No drinking water is provided along the trail.

The North Shore Property also has White Trail, a 6 mile loop trail on Clay Island, with four observation towers, including one overlooking the west shoreline of Lake Apopka. You’ll find an additional 2.6 miles trails (the red trail) for biking, hiking and horseback riding. Access to White Trail is located at 22526 Carolyn Lane in Astatula.

Boating

Motorboat, canoe and kayaking launching is available at the McDonald Canal Boat Ramp located at 24600 County Road 448A in Mount Dora.

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