Public invited to enjoy Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive
PALATKA – Bird lovers and other nature enthusiasts have a new way to enjoy the wildlife of the Lake Apopka North Shore with the opening of the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive by the St. Johns River Water Management District.
Spanning 11 miles, the drive begins at Lust Road and ends on Jones Road in Orange County. A portion of the drive intersects with the Lake Apopka Loop Trail where hikers, bikers and other users will share the road.
The drive is open during daylight hours on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and federal holidays, and it will be closed other days due to ongoing restoration work. The gates will be opened at sunrise and will be closed an hour before sunset. In the coming months, automatic gates will be installed that follow a similar schedule.
"The water management district has made improvements to the existing trails and levee system on our portion of the North Shore property as part of our land management plan," said Steve Miller, Land Management Bureau Chief for the District. "The Wildlife Drive offers people the opportunity to see some of the 362 species of birds that have been identified on the property as well as alligators, bobcats, otters and other wildlife. It's a unique opportunity."
To assist users, the District has installed directional signs on the drive and an informational kiosk. The roadway has been hard topped with widened portions available for "pull over" areas. Other improvements at the North Shore made by the District and its partners include:
- Building of a small foot bridge to connect two sections of levee
- Capping of the levees with lime rock to add stability
- Opening of two phases of the Lake Apopka Loop Trail
Vehicles on the Wildlife Drive are limited to 25 feet in length and vehicles pulling trailers are not allowed.
A Wildlife Drive map and birding list are available on the District's website at floridaswater.com/recreationguide/lakeapopka.