Florida Trail Association
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The Florida Trail

Three Lakes

Length: 32.6 miles (linear)

A former cattle ranch, Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area (which includes the Prairie Lakes Unit) is a wetland restoration project, bringing the hydrology of the region back to what it was before Hamilton Disston started his first drainage projects around Lake Kissimmee in 1910 to open up new agricultural lands. The wet prairies around Lake Kissimmee provide crucial wintering grounds for both sandhill cranes and whooping cranes. The trail passes through palmetto prairies, pine flatwoods and open scrubPassing under Florida's Turnpike in Three Lakes WMA (Deb Blick). In the rainy season, you will wade in many places.

From its northern trailhead, the Three Lakes section makes a good weekend outing, as it has several loop trail options. The through-trail follows the west side of the South Loop and the east side of the North Loop, through half of a figure-8 configuration. Each trail junction has good signage, necessary to avoid confusion. The trail in Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area consists of two loop trails and two linear trails connecting the loops to the north end and the south end of the WMA. The two loop trails, North Loop (5.6 miles) and South Loop (5.6 miles), are within the Prairie Lakes Unit.

The Three Lakes Trail wanders through marsh, meadow, hammock, and pine forest. As in all Wildlife Management Areas, there is an abundance of animals. Deer are plentiful. Hikers may also see bald eagles, Audubon’s caracara, and the stately sandhill crane.