Reminiscent of a "blackwater, backwoods swamp," the Upper Reedy Creek property is mostly impenetrable basin swamp, thick with blackgum, cypress, red maple, bay trees and slash pine. At Intercession City, a clearing of palmetto gives way to a dense hammock that tests your strength and dexterity if you try to get through it. There are no hiking trails here. If you are successful, you'll need waders to experience the mysteries of a tranquil, wet forest as you get closer to the creek, about two miles in. Bring your camera to capture the textures, contrasts in light and subtle surprises of this quiet place.
A little farther south at the Reedy Creek unit, access is much friendlier, with a hiking trail that begins from an adjacent county-run education center. While the center and other related trails are open to the public only on weekends, you can access the Reedy Creek "Pine Woods Trail" anytime from a small trailhead on Poinciana Blvd. The two-mile, narrow trail ushers you along the swamp edge and includes a section of rebuilt logging railroad track. You'll pass through bayheads and pine flatwoods, too.
Reedy Creek flows into Lake Russell and is one of the northernmost water sources for the greater Everglades ecosystem. Three miles south of the Reedy Creek unit, the Lake Russell unit is rich in habitat diversity and gets heavily used for environmental education. Osceola County runs a second education center at Lake Russell. A sloping landscape begins with scrub at its highest point, transitions to flatwoods and eventually changes to floodplain forest along the edge of Lake Russell.
Each year thousands of students and teachers experience the wonders first-hand through programs at the centers run by the school district. Weekend hours for the public at the center near the Reedy Creek unit are 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. The Lake Russell center is open to the public only for special events.
For More Information:
Call Osceola County Schools at (407) 847-9108 to leave a message to request information on programs and hours.
Activities by Site
- Intercession City: hiking
- Lake Russell: education center, hiking, visitor center, wildflower viewing
- Reedy Creek: hiking
- Upper Reedy Creek: frogging
- Intercession City
From Kissimmee: Take U.S. 17/92 west to Wiley Avenue. Wiley Avenue is about one mile west of Poinciana Boulevard.
- Reedy Creek Unit
From I-4 out of Orlando: Exit 68 and go south on S.R. 535. After 2.9 miles, turn right onto Poinciana Boulevard. Travel south approximately 14 miles (crossing both U.S. 192 and U.S. 17/92). Look for the small opening in the woods across from Horse World for limited parking at the trailhead.
- Reedy Creek Unit
From I-4 going east: Exit 24 and head south toward Kissimmee. Go left onto U.S. 17/92 then right onto Poinciana Boulevard.
- Lake Russell Education Center
Follow directions to Reedy Creek Unit shown above: Continue south from Horse World approximately four miles. The entrance is located on Southport Road, one-half mile east of the Pleasant Hill traffic light.