Sunflower Flats in Sanford, FL

Last week, to celebrate my office-free lifestyle, I went on a hike on a Tuesday afternoon. I know Central Florida doesn’t scream “gorgeous nature to hike” unless you count walking through the Twister ride at Universal a “nature hike” but I was determined to explore the Marl Bed Flats in Sanford.

I first found out that the Orlando area even had a sunflower field (note: they are actually yellow wild flowers, not huge sunflowers) thanks to a blog post by Jeff Stamer of Firefall Photography. All I knew about Lake Jesup was that I had once been to an event at the Black Hammock restaurant there in college, and that the lake is home to a bajillion gators. But I’m a bad-ass adventurer and I really haven’t had an excuse to wear my expensive rain boots since moving back so I definitely wanted to hike the fields.

I took Jeff’s advice and wore long pants (athletic leggings) and rubber rain boots (my favorite package Hunters), and was definitely glad I did. After seeing some girls in white Keds and denim shorts heading down the trail, I thought it would be best to share how to dress for this marshy, buggy, woodsy environment:

sunflower-flats

My friend Kelli and I headed out on Tuesday afternoon (just before Hurricane Matthew, luckily) and since we had some issues deciphering the directions, here’s the easiest way to get to the trail head:

Set your GPS to take you to 1799 Oakway, Sanford, FL 32773

You’ll wonder how you’re going to get anywhere with nature as you’re driving along the 417, and then you’ll turn on Oakway, which is literally one lane with ditches on either side, and you’ll see. All the way at the end, you’ll see this, and park:

trail-head-parking

Continue down those paths until you get to a gate… there’s a latch to keep the cows from running away, so be sure to close it behind you once you enter. From there, follow the red trail markers all the way. There’s not much more in the way of directions… you literally walk the red trail until it comes to a clearing, and you see yellow wild flowers in front of you.

As you hike the trail, you’ll probably feel ridiculous wearing rubber boots. Just wait… you’ll be glad once you get to the flowers! While it’s a relatively easy hike (no hills, rough terrain, etc.) I’m not sure that I’d bring small children or my dog. I don’t even want to imagine what gators and snakes we naively passed once we got to the flower marshes.

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