APOPKA – Lake County, in partnership with Orange County and the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD), is inviting citizens to a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Phase 2 opening of the Lake Apopka Loop Trail at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20.
The ribbon cutting will open 6.3 miles of trail at the Orange-Lake County line in the SJRWMD’s scenic Lake Apopka North Shore Restoration Area, which is surrounded by levees and is ideal for viewing hundreds of species of wildlife.
Presenters at the event include Lake County Commissioner Leslie Campione, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Orange County Commissioner Frederick C. Brummer, Orange County Parks Manager Matt Suedmeyer and Robert Christianson, director of SJRWMD’s Division of Strategic Planning and Financial Services.
“As a runner for many years, I am personally excited about the opening of the Lake Apopka Loop Trail as it extends into Lake County at the Lake County-Orange County line,” said Commissioner Campione, who has asked members of the Mount Dora Roadrunners to accompany her on a five-mile trail run to the ribbon cutting. “This trail will prove to be a beautiful and vital asset to nature lovers, runners and athletes alike.”
The portion of the Lake Apopka Loop Trail that meanders through SJRWMD’s Lake Apopka North Shore Restoration Area is designed as a multiple use passive trail for hiking and bicycling.
Phase 1 of the trail, which starts at Orange County’s Magnolia Park, opened in June 2012 and encompasses roughly four miles. Future work includes Lake County completing a portion of the trail at the western edge of the northern shore of Lake Apopka. Lake County has secured funding to purchase privately owned property that adjoins land owned by the SJRWMD to construct an overlook onto Lake Apopka. The county also has plans to improve a boat ramp that will provide boating access to the Apopka-Beauclair Canal and Lake Apopka.
For more than 15 years, The Friends of Lake Apopka (FOLA) has worked with local governments and the SJRWMD on ecotourism in the area, including construction of the loop trail, which began two years ago.
Personal vehicles will not be allowed on site for the grand opening due to limited parking availability. Citizens interested in attending the ceremony must board buses by 12:30 p.m. at Magnolia Park, 2929 S. Binion Road, Apopka. To RSVP for a seat on the bus, contact Amanda Kimmer at 407-836-6257 or Amanda.Kimmer@ocfl.net no later than Tuesday, Feb. 18.