Seminole Ranch Conservation Area

About this property

This vast property straddling portions of four counties was the first acquisition in Florida funded by the Save Our Rivers program. It includes 12 miles of the St. Johns River and is part of a large group of publicly owned conservation lands in the area that includes the Little-Big Econ State Forest, the Tosohatchee State Reserve and the St. Johns National Wildlife Refuge. Within the property are more than 4 miles of the Florida National Scenic Trail.

The property helps to filter nutrients during seasonal flooding; 96 percent of the area is part of the St. Johns River floodplain.

One of the special highlights of this property is that its unique plant community that is supported by naturally salty water, which flows from small springs near Harney and Puzzle lakes. The salinity of small lakes in the area approaches one-third that of seawater. Many salt-tolerant and marine-dwelling organisms present here are not found anywhere else in the St. Johns River.

Visitors often say they enjoy this property because of the sheer size of it and how open and vast much of the landscape is. There are huge marshes, miles of open water, shady hammocks, piney woods, and much more. They’ll also tell you it’s a big enough place to easily feel like you are lost – a treasure of remoteness in the busy central Florida area.

Wildlife viewing

Please respect Florida’s wildlife and use caution while visiting district lands. These are wild animals. For your safety, do not approach or feed any wild animal. A diversity of migratory and resident wading birds and waterfowl is frequently found at the conservation area. Occasional sightings include white ibis, roseate spoonbills, white pelicans, southern bald eagles and sandhill cranes.

Recreational activities
  1. The southwestern 6,000 acres of this conservation area comprise the Seminole Ranch Wildlife Management Area, which is seasonally hunted.
  2. Year-round activities include fishing, horseback riding, primitive camping east of the river, hiking (4.3 miles of Florida National Scenic Trail — hikers, please check hunt dates), canoeing, boating, bicycling, wildlife viewing, picnicking and nature study.
  3. The trails are seasonally flooded.

East of Orlando and north of Cocoa, the property can be accessed from two parking areas. Vehicle access is along Hatbill Road. Boat access is available at Midway Fish Camp, the Orange County public boat ramp and from the Hatbill Park boat ramp. For details and to get driving directions from your location, see the Google Maps link on this page.