It had been a number of years since I biked the trail and its popularity has exploded in the interim. The parking lot was full and there were very few segments not being used by bikers, joggers or walkers. There are many new developments along the trail, including the Oakland Nature Preserve, a major force in preserving the region's history and natural environment. Unfortunately, Orlando's sprawl is encroaching and new suburbs have appeared near Oakland. There were two residential developments that showed the effects of the economy with paved roads and utilities but no houses.
|This fish camp cabin, from Mt. Dora on the north side of the lake, is|
one of the few remaining in the area
|Beautyberries at the Oakland Nature Preserve|
|Tracks from the rail bed that the trail follows|
|Dock on Lake Apopka|
|Details from the remnants of the citrus industry|
|Frame Vernacular house built in 1885 by Orange Belt Railway|
Between Oakland and Winter Garden lies an area known as Tildenville with more fantastic 19th century homes, shady dirt roads, and enormous live oaks. Before reaching the quaint little downtown of Winter Garden, I went down to the lakefront of Lake Apopka. Newton Park originated as a tincan tourist camp, but was developed as a project of the New Deal in the 1930s. Several buildings and two arched bridges remain from that era. I shared the park with a plethora of wading birds, turtles, and some invisible alligators, that were heard but not seen. I found it interesting that on this holiday weekend the trail was jammed with people but the lakefront was deserted. Of course Lake Apopka, at one time the third largest lake in Florida, was horribly polluted by years of harmful agricultural practices. Once one of the premier bass fishing lakes in the state, the lake used to be ringed with fish camps. Today no fish camps remain and the lake is undergoing restoration with hopes of one day reestablishing an environmental balance. One of the more positive signs in the restoration has been the return of thousands of migrating birds every year. The latest threat, however, is a plans to enlarge a small airfield on the north side of the lake into a full scale airport. Environmentalists are concerned that this would have a detrimental effect on the birds, and they are trying to create a National Wildlife Reserve for the area.
|Bungalow built in 1919 by citrus packinghouse manager Gus Hall|
|This Queen Anne Classical Revival house, built in 1900, is on the National Historic Register|
|WPA era feature in Warren Park on Lake Apopka|
|Great Blue Heron watches over Lake Apopka|
|Old building in Newton Park|
|Labor Day weekend solitude on Lake Apopka|