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Latest update: February 2023
The Sanford RiverWalk has grown into a biking gem, following the Lake Monroe shoreline east-west for 4.5 miles along W. Seminole Blvd., between N. Mellonville Avenue and US 17/92 near the 1-4 intersection. The lakeshore makes for one of the most scenic bike rides in Central Florida. The trail is convenient to parks and old downtown Sanford, with it's restaurants and entertainment venues. To the west, at trail's end at US 17/92, it links to the Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail via the Cross Seminole Trail, continuing over the St Johns River bridge to the Spring-to-Spring Trail. To the east, plans are to connect with the SR 415 Trail, which will complete the Lake Monroe Loop. (Map and photos below).
Sanford RiverWalk Map
Location: Seminole County
End Points: Seminole Blvd. to US 17/92
Mileage: 4.5 miles
Surface: Paved, 12-14 feet
Trailheads/Parking: Parking available along Seminole Avenue, Marina Island, along First Street, or in downtown Sanford. (See map)
Nearby Points of Interest: Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Fort Mellon Park, Sanford Museum, Orlando Sanford International Airport
Bike Shops / Rentals:
Bicikleta Bike Shop (Sanford; sales, service, rentals)
Pedal Driven Bike Shop (Sanford; sales, rentals)
Sanford has been making a comeback with the historic Downtown and its many restaurants becoming a magnet for locals and visitors. The RiverWalk is a popular destination and great place to take the kids. It's also favored by fishermen enjoying the long freshwater shoreline. The city has done a good job adding benches, pavilions with swing seats, overlooks, picnic tables, and landscaping. We've upgraded the RiverWalk to a "Destination (D)" trail due to its increased length and connection to the Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail.
Starting at Mellonville Ave., the RiverWalk runs west between the lake and E. Seminole Blvd., with benches, pavilions, and other places to just stop and enjoy the view. Markers along the way tell of Sanford's history. This section passes Fort Mellon Park, the Sanford Museum and Carola Park, and the old Hotel Forrest Lake. The only road crossing is at Palmetto Ave., at Marina Island.
Fort Mellon Park is a community focal point, with restrooms, water fountains, a playground, splash park, picnic tables, pavilion (available for rental), baseball field, and basketball courts. The Sanford Museum, named after city founder Henry S. Sanford, has historical exhibits and papers. Adjacent to the museum is Carola Park, named for Sanford's daughter who donated his library and papers to the city. The old Hotel Forrest Lake 1926-29 and later the Mayfair Hotel (1935-1963), has since served a number of functions including as the Sanford Naval Academy (1963-1977), and then the New Tribes Mission headquarters. Sadly, it's now in disrepair, plans to restore it to its former glory as a luxury hotel have not yet come to fruition.
This is the busiest section of the RiverWalk, passing restaurants, the Marina and Marina Island, and Veterans Memorial Park. The historic Downtown district runs parallel, a couple of blocks to the south. Again, benches and pavilions with swings are great for relaxing and taking in the views.
At French Avenue, the road circles to the left while the RiverWalk continues lakeside. A short distance on they re-converge, with the RiverWalk running between a seawall and the roadway - the steel barrier makes it a safe and pleasant bike ride with unrestricted lake views. There are no road crossings. West of the downtown business area, there are fewer pedestrians on this section.
The Marina has 236 boat slips, including some free day slips for visitors (available sunup to sundown, no overnights). At Marina Island are restaurants, an assisted living facility, and home port of the St. Johns Rivership Barbara-Lee, a sternwheeler offering lunch and dinner cruises. Watch for the big flag at the roundabout at N. Park Ave., extending into the lake on a jetty is Veterans Memorial Park, with informational kiosks, a memorial brick pathway, benches and water views. Just a few blocks to the south, visit historic Downtown Sanford's restaurants, bars and shops.
The newest section of trail, the RiverWalk runs along W. Seminole Blvd. from Central Florida Regional Hospital, past the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Garden, to the connection with the Cross Seminole Trail / Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail (C2C) at US 17/92. Landscaping and benches have been added. The lake views become somewhat blocked with the shoreline further away and more wooded as the trail approaches the end. There are no road crossings until arriving at US 17/92. A wide shoulder and curbside parking at intervals maintain distance from the traffic, which is further calmed by roundabouts and raised sidewalks. Crossing the I-4 interchange to continue on the C2C is the main challenge here.
The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Garden features over 350 animals including endangered species such as the Indian rhino. Other activities include a wide variety of educational programs, a splash pad, zip line, and botanical garden. Parking, restrooms, picnic tables, snack bar.
Sanford has an interesting history. Fort Mellon was established during the Second Seminole War in 1836, and the town of Mellonville grew up around it. Its location on Lake Monroe (part of the St. Johns River system) was advantageous and Mellonville became a commercial center with daily steamship service to Jacksonville in the 19th century. Mellonville was the original county seat of Orange County before Orlando emerged. The town merged with adjacent Sanford in 1883, and today's Sanford serves as county seat of Seminole County. The city has two National Historic Districts, the Commercial Historic District with 26 buildings dating from 1877-1924, and the Residential Historic District with 434 buildings representing a wide range of architectural styles.
Cross Seminole Trail
SR 415 Trail
Seminole County Trails - see Overview Map for more nearby
The Sanford RiverWalk connects to the Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail
See all bike trails in Seminole County
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