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The 16th National Trails Symposium: November 10-13, 2002 ~ Orlando, Florida

Why Central Florida? The Unexpected ORLANDO!

map of Orlando area showing hotel location

Central Florida is rich in natural recreational resources that transport nature enthusiasts into beautiful worlds that have been thoughtfully conserved and maintained for visitors and residents alike. Its diverse ecosystems are showcased in the region's national forests and seashores, state parks and trails &endash; all within easy reach of centrally located Orlando. From pine flatwoods and tropical hardwood forests to swamps, marshes, and beaches, nature enthusiasts can enjoy hiking, bird watching, paddling, fishing, swimming, snorkeling, diving and much more. beach, dune, hammock, lagoon, salt marsh and pine flatland habitats. These habitats are home to some of the rarest and most unusual species of wildlife.

Central Florida is rich in natural recreational resources that transport nature enthusiasts into beautiful worlds that have been thoughtfully conserved and maintained for visitors and residents alike. Its diverse ecosystems are showcased in the region's national forests and seashores, state parks and trails &endash; all within easy reach of centrally located Orlando. From pine flatwoods and tropical hardwood forests to swamps, marshes, and beaches, nature enthusiasts can enjoy hiking, bird watching, paddling, fishing, swimming, snorkeling, diving and much more.

 NORTH

The Ocala National Forest, located in the northern area of the region, is the southernmost national forest in the continental United States and one of the state's three national forests. Containing 383,220 acres, the forest's sand pine scrub ecosystem is the world's largest continuous forest of this type.

WEST

The Withlacoochee State Forest, one of 30 state forests, has been named one of the World Wildlife Fund's 10 Coolest Places in North America. Located in the western area of the region, it's Florida's second largest state forest, with nearly 155,000 acres and 92 miles of trails spread over nine distinct tracts. Ecosystems range from the "long green tunnel" of dense oaks and maples to swaying bald cypress along the dark waters of the Withlacoochee River.

EAST

An hour's drive to the East Coast is the Canaveral National Seashore &endash; one of 10 National Seashores &endash; and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Both are set among ocean, beach, dune, hammock, lagoon, salt marsh and pine flatland habitats. These habitats are home to some of the rarest and most unusual species of wildlife.

SOUTH

Just south of Orlando, the Disney Wilderness Preserve offers visitors a glimpse of the headwaters of another ecosystem that is unlike any other in the world &endash; the Everglades. The Preserve contains 12,000 acres bordered by one of the last remaining undeveloped lakes in Central Florida and offers more than seven miles of trails that take visitors through pine flatwoods and wetland habitats.

ALL DIRECTIONS

Central Florida also has a myriad of nature trails. The Florida National Scenic Trail, which passes through the region, offers hikers a chance to discover the natural beauty linking Florida's wild and rural areas. Sections of the Trail also extend through the Ocala National Forest as well as through the Orlando area along the Kissimmee River. This beautiful section passes through live oak and sabal palm hammocks, sand pine forests and open prairies. The Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway is a 110-mile long recreation and conservation corridor created from the lands purchased for the now-defunct Cross Florida Barge Canal.

Wekiwa Springs State Park, the closest of the state's 150 state parks to the Orlando metro area, offers unique canoe and hiking trails on the crystalline waters of the Wekiva River, one of Florida's most pristine river systems. The park's 7,800 acres of lush cypress swamps, palmetto-lined streams, hammocks and sand pine scrub capture the spirit of ancient Florida. Nature trails also meander through nearby Withlacoochee Trail State Park and Gen. James A. Van Fleet Trail State Park while paved trails like the West Orange Trail and the Cross Seminole Trail offer visitors a recreational experience that winds through local communities.

Registration information is available on the American Trails website or download the pdf version of the Registration Brochure or download and print Registration Form -- On-line Registration

For more information see:

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