President’s Corner – July 2023 – River Lakes Conservation Area

If you are a hiker or a nature buff, one of the places that I like to encourage people to visit is our little section of the River Lakes Conservation Area (RLCA). There is a trailhead just outside of the Viera boundary where you can park and explore the natural, Florida native areas near here. Now, the entire RLCA is a much larger recreational area and I have included in this post both the map of the entire RLCA and the map of just our trailhead area. Here is the webpage with more information regarding RLCA access and use:

River Lakes Conservation Area Map

Mocassin Island Trail Map

To get there from Viera, take Wickham Road west all the way to the stop sign just before the Duda Ranch. At that stop sign, turn right, then an immediate left in front of the Duda Sod Farm office trailer. At the entrance to that road, you will see a sign.

This sign tells you everything you need to know about access to the trailhead. First and foremost, access is only available from 7am to 7pm. After that, the gates are closed so you do not want to get stuck out there after 7pm. The parking area is 3.5 miles through the Ranch to the RLCA. Now, the access road is still Ranch property, so you cannot stop or get out of your vehicle. The access road is part of a public access agreement between the St. Johns River Water Management District and the Duda Ranch. So, while there is a public access easement/road, it is still Ranch property and there are still ranching activities taking place. So, for your safety, you are not allowed to stop, stand, get out of your vehicle, or roam around.

Although it is very hot right now (take plenty of water with you), exploring our natural surroundings is a very special outing. You can take any of the very well-maintained trails, hang out at the St. Johns River, and see the Florida wildlife (be careful!). Be warned, it is called the Mocassin Island Tract for a reason – do not go swimming!

Florida is a great place to be if you enjoy the outdoors. There is always so much to do and see year-round. I would definitely recommend exploring the RLCA and taking some time to get to know this amazing recreational space right in our own backyard.

So, until next time, please remember … “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” – Albert Einstein

Eva M. Rey, President
Central Viera Community Association, Inc.