Property of the month feature

Solitude in sandhills: Econlockhatchee Sandhills Conservation Area

Jan. 4, 2024

Small stream running through cypress knees

The Econlockhatchee River flows through the Econlockhatchee Sandhills Conservation Area in eastern Orange County.

Just outside the hustle and bustle of busy Orlando, Econlockhatchee Sandhills Conservation Area is a pocket of solitude that safeguards some of Florida’s remaining sandhill habitat, an imperiled natural community, in eastern Orange County.

Enhancing and protecting 1.5 miles of the Econlockhatchee River and its associated floodplains and uplands, Econlockhatchee Sandhills Conservation Area adds to a corridor of nearby conservation lands that include Hal Scott Regional Preserve and Park, Seminole County’s Econ River Wilderness Area to the northwest, and Little Big Econ and Charles Bronson state forests further north.

At 706 acres, it is one of the smaller St. Johns River Water Management District properties, but don’t let its size fool you. A 3-mile trail winds through sand pine scrub, oak hammocks, pine flatwoods, and prairies of saw palmetto, letting visitors spend as much time as they’d like traversing through the different habitats. A portion of the scenic trail runs parallel to the river, and a spur off the powerline road makes it an easy walk down to the river’s shoreline.

“It’s one of the most heavily visited District lands in this region, but even when the property is busy, there’s plenty of trail to explore on your own,” explains Graham Williams, the District’s South Central Region Land Manager. “The trails are popular for hiking and biking, and the river floodplain is a great place to see nature and wildlife.”

The dry uplands are an ideal habitat for an array of wildlife, including gopher tortoises. Their deep burrows can be found scattered throughout the property. Sherman’s fox squirrels, who have lost much of their habitat due to development in the surrounding area, can periodically be seen in the longleaf pine and sandhills. Wild turkey, white-tailed deer and a variety of songbirds may also be seen throughout the property. Abundant wildflowers bloom in the spring and fall, adding to the beauty of the land.

Whether you’re looking for a hike by yourself or with family, friends or a leashed dog, plan a visit to Econlockhatchee Sandhills Conservation Area. There are no restrooms, picnic tables or benches on the property, so plan accordingly. Visit the District’s online recreation guide for a property map, driving directions and more:

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