Wekiva Falls: Nature in Orlando’s North

Where is a great weekend getaway in Florida?

We were looking for something fun and different to do but only had a weekend to do it so we thought of WHAT we wanted to do and went from there.  A friend had visited Cactus Jack’s Trail Rides at Rock Springs Run Trail in Sorrento, Florida (northern small town of the Orlando suburbs) and she recommended it.  That was all it took.  We found Wekiva Falls RV Resort nearby and they offered canoe rentals and a natural spring (in addition to plenty of other things) and we were set with our weekend destination.

There are nature trails at the Wekiva Falls RV Park that you can walk or ride your bicycle on.  This view was just stunning and it went along a small stream for a while and you can walk along the crystal clear stream quite a ways too!

Getting across the I-4 in Florida

So now that we settled on where to go for our horseback riding and canoe adventure that was withing a reasonable drive from the Tampa – St Petersburg area, we were set.  Unfortunately the roads between St Petersburg and Orlando are pretty awful and there is no rail service which makes it even worse.  What normally would be a roughly 2 hour trip took about four hours.   The key is to avoid the I-4 and the I-275 in Tampa.  There are a few alternates including the Crosstown Expressway in Tampa and there is a half-beltway through Orlando sometimes called the Greenway, sometimes called the 417, but it is worth it.  If you’re just coming to Wekiva Falls, take the 429 (sometimes called the western beltway, but don’t let the word beltway confuse you – this road does not make a full circle around Orlando) which is also a toll expressway

The natural springs at Wekiva Falls RV Resort and waterslides for children.
Where’s a great place to camp in Orlando?

The RV park we stayed at, Wekiva Falls RV Resort, is really a destination.  There is everything from the natural springs you can bathe and swim in, which are a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit and water slides in the centre of the lagoon as well as a tiki bar further down by the marina that is fun and lively.  There’s canoe rentals, nature trails, a clubhouse and the usual other activies you’d expect.  The store is well equipped and the staff are excellent.  It is located on the north side of Orlando and not the most convenient if you are doing the attractions which are on the city’s southside.  But if you love nature and want something different this is the spot for you!

The tiki bar at the marina of Wekiva Falls RV Resort
We rented a canoe for two for two hours which was plenty.  You get your supplies at the camp store before noon or at the tiki bar after noon.  The fee was packaged into a great weekend special the campground was offering which was a site for two nights, four people, a canoe rental for two and a late check out all for $75.  This is a great deal and well worth it for a fun weekend Florida getaway.  We launched at the marina and paddled to the river about 5 to 10 minutes away downstream.  Once there, you turn right to paddle upstream which makes coming back much easier and relaxing.

A sample view of canoeing up the Wekiva River.
On our trip we packed a lunch and pulled up next to a log and ate.  It was peaceful.  We saw several turtles sunning themselves.  The water is very clear so there are fish to see as well.  I kept looking for other things but never saw a bear sunning itself on the riverbank or an alligator playing poker.  But all in the canoe trip was incredible and would be something we’d do again.  There were people fishing in the water but there weren’t many people out.  You can get a chance to really think about what it was like before cars – when the aircraft above going to Orlando-Sanford International (SFB) aren’t descending or taking off.

 

On one of the many trails to ride at Rock Springs Trail Run.
Where to go horseback riding in Orlando?

This is the perfect spot for it.  On a hot day, there is enough shade.  When you enter the park you are an the honour system to pay $3 cash for your day pass to the park.  The directions to the horseback riding, operated by Cactus Jacks, is easy and well signposted.  You can select a variety of times for your trail riding and it is perfectly fine for children and adults who have never ridden a horse.  The guide we had was excellent and pointed things out along the way.  It was much better than we expected because Florida is so flat and open but this took us through forest and field as well as a small hill that most would describe as a pile of sand.  There is an old railway bed that you also go down which is pretty cool because you can hear the horses click clack on the old railway ties hidden beneath the sand.

The horse barn and office at the Rock Springs Trail Run.
For those looking for an alternative to the attractions in Orlando, which are absolutely incredible and why people come from all over to Orlando, then this easy two night trip in an RV, camper or tent is perfect.  And for anyone within two or three hour radius of Orlando, it makes for an easy weekend trip for camping.  We are excited to go back actually.

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