APOPKA – Flanked by members of The Mount Dora Roadrunners Club, Lake County Commissioner Leslie Campione helped cut the ribbon on Phase 2 of the Lake Apopka Loop Trail on Thursday, Feb. 20.
“As a Lake County commissioner, and a proponent of protecting our area’s natural resources for both ecotourism and quality of life for residents, I am proud to be here today at the official opening of the extension of the Lake Apopka Loop Trail,” said Commissioner Campione.
The ribbon cutting officially opened 6.3 miles of trail in the St. Johns River Water Management District’s (SJRWMD) scenic Lake Apopka North Shore Restoration Area. The area is a haven for hundreds of species of wildlife and is considered a premiere birding destination.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Orange County Commissioner Frederick C. Brummer, Orange County Parks Manager Matt Suedmeyer, Mount Dora Mayor Cathy Hoechst, Apopka Vice Mayor Bill Arrowsmith and Robert Christianson, director of SJRWMD’s Division of Strategic Planning and Financial Services, all spoke during at the event.
By summer, Lake County plans to finish a trailhead and dramatic overlook along the north shore of Lake Apopka. When completed, the trails will eventually link up to the South Lake Trail and the West Orange Trail.
“We are happy to do our part in expanding the trail, and look forward to the day when the entire Lake Apopka Loop Trail is complete,” said Commissioner Campione.
Following the ceremony, Commissioner Campione toured the restoration area’s uplands, where the wildlife shifts from alligators to deer and turkey. This area in Lake County is one of the only shaded parts surrounding Lake Apopka.
For more than 15 years, The Friends of Lake Apopka has worked with local governments and the SJRWMD on ecotourism in the area, including construction of the loop trail, which began two years ago. Phase 1 of the trail, a 4-mile stretch beginning at Magnolia Park, opened in June.
“This trail will provide our residents and eco-tourism visitors with another wonderful option to enjoy Central Florida’s gorgeous scenery and outdoors,” said Mayor Jacobs.