The Econ River Wilderness Area is another of my favorite places ot visit in Seminole County. It’s only about 10 minutes from my home, so I can visit there on a whim, which is nice. The wilderness area covers about 240 acres that extends from Old Lockwood Rd to the Econ River just north of UCF. There are approximately 3 miles of trails that will take you from pine flatwoods and and sandhill habitats into hard wood and river swamp environments closer to the river.
The trails are pretty poorly marked, but if you know your east from the west, it’s not much of a problem. The area is very long from east to west and narrow from north to south, so as long as you know you’re heading east, you’re going to make it to the river, and as long as you’re heading west, you’re going to make it to the parking lot. There’s one little pond on the property that is visible from Old Lockwood Rd. There’s a trail that will take you right past the pond on its way to the main trail to the river. You can see the trail map and brochure here. You can also see my field reports for more information.
I usually visit this park to see birds in Pine flatwood and sandhill environments. This is a great area to find Eastern Towhee, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Bobwhite, Red-bellied Woopecker, White-eyed Vireo, and Great Horned Owl. During the right time of year, this is also one of my favorite places to look/listen for Chuck Will’s Widow and Common Nighthawk, as well as Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Blue-headed Vireo, Eastern Phoebe, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. This is the only area in Florida where I’ve seen a Hairy Woodpecker.
Of course, other wildlife can be seen here too. White-tailed deer are common, and it’s not unusual to see a Gopher Tortoise. Butterflies are common here as well, and you may even find a blooming Loblolly Bay tree. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Bobcat here, though so far I’ve never actually seen one. Be careful in the grassy areas near the river–I’ve come out of there to find a Lone Star Tick crawling on me a couple times.
There are no significant accommodations or amenities here, not even restrooms. There’s a sign in the parking lot, and you may find a bench or two by the Econ River, but other than that there’s nothing here but trails and wildlife. The pine areas provide little shade, though the hard wood areas near the river offer much more protection from the sun. Especially during the summer months, make sure you bring your own water, protection from the sun, and bug spray.