Nature is calling this fall! As September brings the gradual shift from the brutal Florida summer to the slightly-less-brutal fall weather, being outside naturally becomes much more comfortable as the weather no longer feels as humid. Before you drive all the way out to one of the Florida springs or try to beat the rush of fall tourists to the theme parks, take a look around Lake Nona for some other fantastic natural wonders of our own.
As we continue our journey through some of the best spots around Lake Nona to reconnect with the natural environment around us, Isle of Pine Preserve is easily the next spot that comes to mind. It was originally part of a Florida homestead before developers purchased it. In turn, Orange County purchased it from the developers and created Isle of Pine Preserve.
The Isle of Pine Preserve is located in southeast Orange County off of Lake Mary Jane Road. The preserve is about 464 acres and features two separate trails, the Blue Trail and the Green Trail. The preserve is also home to a vast gopher tortoise population. You can hike or ride horseback on some of the miles of winding nature trails through some of Florida’s unique habitats. While journeying through the trails, there are plenty of opportunities to view wildlife. You can also have a picnic on the shoreline of Lake Mary Jane or in the actual Isle of Pine that inspired the name for the property.
This preserve is tucked quaintly inside of the Isle of Pine community past Moss Park. Drive through the beautiful meandering roads that reside under a canopy of trees and greenery all the way to the lush entrance to the preserve. Parking is incredibly easy to access at the preserve, and it is free for all visitors.
The trail is quite overgrown with natural shrubs and forestry, so whether you are hiking through the trails or riding horseback, I recommend wearing jeans or other long pants as well as closed-toed shoes like boots or sneakers. Bug spray and a bit of sunscreen on all your exposed skin is also a must. This can help offset some of the other natural creatures that inhabit the forests (mosquito bites and ticks are things that should definitely be avoided). You should also be on the lookout for wild boar. I have not run into any on my hiking journeys into the preserve, but I’ve come across many others who have had numerous encounters with the often aggressive pigs.
My favorite venture to the Isle of Pine Preserve occurred a few weeks ago when my boyfriend and I went around the sunset time frame. The sky was quite clear and lit up the most beautiful shades of orange and pink. When you’re inside the preserve and you’re far enough from the bustling roads and noisy suburbs, the sunset is all the more precious and perfect because it is the only thing that you have to focus on at that moment in time. It can be really hard to appreciate the little things like that when there are so many other things to focus on while you’re supposed to be stepping away from it all. We were able to take some incredible pictures of the trees against the burnt orange sky, as well as listen to the sound of the crickets beginning to play their night time melodies. It was dreamlike and completely serene. I highly recommend stopping by the preserve at dawn or dusk and watching as the sun rises or sets up and over the treeline. Photos really don’t do it justice for just how stunning it is.
As the seasons continue to shift from summer to fall, check out the Isle of Pine Preserve and capture some of the little moments that can only be experienced when getting back to and taking in some of the best natural wonders.