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Mead Botanical Garden, established in 1940, is a park in Winter Park FL. Though the paved bike trail is short (about 4/10 mile), it's well-used by bikers as a link between the Orlando Urban Trail and Winter Park Biking. Mead Botanical Garden's 48 acres include varied ecosystems from sandhill upland to wetland with natural areas including Howell Creek, Lake Lillian and Lake Lillian Marsh, and Alice's Pond. The park offers a variety of activities for nature lovers, including walking/hiking paths, boardwalk, butterfly garden, and more. Other than the paved bike trail and main road, most trails are better suited for walking and hiking. Part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, the park is also popular with birdwatchers. (Map and photos below).
Mead Garden-Winter Park Biking Map
Location: Orange County (Winter Park)
Surface: Paved multi-use path, dirt and grass trails, boardwalk
Trailheads/Parking: Mead Garden (See map)
Nearby Points of Interest: Park Avenue, Morse Museum of Art, Rollins College, Albin Polasek House and Gardens
From the Park entrance at Denning Drive and Garden Drive, the bike trail is just inside to the right. A grassy parking area is to the left, or proceed straight to the main parking area at the Garden Club. The bike path winds through the south end of the garden, past the picnic pavilion and a Sandhill Restoration Area, passing near Alice's Pond. It exits onto Nottingham St. in Orlando, a street route link to Orlando Urban Trail.
The walking/hiking paths wind through and around the park, about 1.5 miles total, including a boardwalk through the marsh - it's hard to remember you're in the middle of town, it's jungle-like! They interconnect but are not marked so sometimes you have to guess which way to go. The paths along the creek and in the marsh area can be wet and muddy with many roots. Here are some we visited, there are more - the whole park is walkable and some is bikeable, so just meander around and enjoy!
At the south end of the park along the bike path, a grassy pathway turns off. From this path, Alice's Pond can be seen to the right, turn here. The path winds around the scenic pond, benches are available to sit and take in the view. Fishing is also popular. Continuing past the pond the path runs along Howell Creek with sections of boardwalk. From the boardwalk at the end of the pond, we continued on the path along Howell Creek, passing behind the Garden Club and Amphitheater, and ending at the main Boardwalk and Lillian's Marsh (below).
We started from the Amphitheater, a path leads past the Grove Stage and Event Pavilion to the Boardwalk. The Boardwalk takes you through Lillian's Marsh wetlands, assorted wildlife can be seen. This area is under restoration, closed sections of old boardwalk can be seen. At the end of the Boardwalk, we continued back to the Amphitheater. Another path from this point leads to Alice's Pond (above).
Bikers can become hikers by using the entry gate off the Winter Park multi-use path along S. Pennsylvania Ave., leading to a sandy path following Howell Creek to the Amphitheater. Here, the path is narrow with many roots, not suited for biking, but a pleasant (when dry) short, shady walk, much creek side, until nearing the parking lot. Howell Creek at Mead Garden runs between Lake Sue and Lake Virginia.
The Greenhouse is located just inside the main entrance, across from the start of the bike path. Go down the path alongside the Greenhouse and through the arbor to more gardens. There are four statues in a grove, then behind there look down. A gravel path leads down to an old clay pit. Paths wind around three ponds at the bottom, they can be flooded or muddy depending on rainfall. Return on the gravel path or climb up the tiered dirt embankments.
The park offers parking, restrooms, and picnic facilities. It includes the Winter Park Garden Club, reception hall, an amphitheater, a performance pavilion, greenhouse, community garden and more. Many educational programs are offered for both children and adults. It's also a popular venue for weddings and other events.
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