Lake Jesup Wildflower Update: October 10, 2015

Hi all,

The fields are still blooming in the Marl Bed Flats area by Lake Jesup but it is  still wet…very wet:  Unlike the drought out west, Florida’s rainfall as of October 1st has equaled what we normally receive for a full year.  Plus, some of the areas that are usually packed with flowers are overgrown by other plants.  I’ve heard from a number of you who have tried to see the fields this year but were disappointed.

The good news is that I’ve found a new, relatively dry field filled with flowers. Take a look below…what do you think?Jesup-124-Pano

I’m guessing that we have another week before the flowers start to fade, so this might be the last weekend for you to see the extravaganza this year with the flowers at their peak.  If you are interested, then I’ll help you get to this spot.

But first, let me be clear.  Don’t be like the couple I met at the trailhead yesterday who expected that they were going to drive up to an overlook, step out of the car and start snapping photos.  This isn’t Disney.  You are going to have to hike about 20 minutes out to the fields.  You are going to be bit by mosquitos (no matter how much DEET you have on) and your feet are going to get wet (unless you have waterproof boots).  If you are still game, then read on.

Note:  If the following directions look familiar to you, it is because they are identical to those I’ve published in past years UNTIL you get to step #6:

  • 1. First of all, once you are in the Orlando area, get on SR 417 (the Greeneway toll road) and exit (east) on E Lake Mary Blvd (the first exit north of Lake Jesup) and head east.  Then take a right (south) on South Sanford Ave.  Take a left (east) on Pine Way (this will be just before you drive under the 417 again). Take a right (south) on S.Mellonville Ave. This will dead-end into Oakway…turn left (east). Oakway is a narrow two lane road with no shoulders so be careful if a vehicle is coming the other way.

    The lot can handle only about 4 or 5 vehicles…
  • 2) Oakway dead-ends at a small parking area that is open during daylight hours (see photo above).  If the gate is closed you can park outside the gate on the shoulder of the road.
  •  3) The trail starts at the gate (see below) located in the back south-eastern corner of the lot located next to the parking area. As you walk to the gate, you will likely see your first sunflowers in the fenced field to your right.

    Gate at the trailhead.
  • 4) Follow the trail on the other side of the gate (actually an old overgrown dirt road).
  • 5)  You will see trail markers with both red and yellow diamonds. red yellow diamond
  • 6) Within five minutes, the trail will split.  In past years, I’ve always told you to continue straight (on the Red Trail)  but this year, you need to take the right fork at this split and follow the Yellow Trail 
  • 7) This trail is marked with yellow diamonds and will take you thru an oak hammock.  The trail will curve to the left (south).  Continue on the trail (actually an old dirt road) until you see the flats .
  • 8) At the edge of the flats, the trail/road will take a sharp right and become completely overgrown.  As you stand here looking out to the flats you will see a long, perfectly straight row of palm trees leading off south-east into the flats.
  • 9) Walk along that line of trees (no need to follow it to the end).  As you do so, you should see the field of sunflowers to your left (south-east).  This area is particularly nice in the afternoon with the sun to your back.

Here’s a map that shows the trails:

Lake Jesup WIldflower trail map
Follow the Yellow Trail this year. “X” marks the SPOT!

It is really gorgeous out there right now and I hope you are able to get out there and enjoy it.  If so, be sure to review my list of tips and suggestions before you go…it will help you avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made in the past and make for a more enjoyable day.

PS:  If you know of any other good locations, please let me know.

  • I’ve heard rumors that are good fields in the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area along Power Line Road.  I hope to check that report out in the next 3 or 4 days.
    • UPDATE:  I drove out to Tosohatchee on Oct 13.  I only found a few small clumps of sunflowers.
  • I did check out the Caldwell’s Field area at Lake Jesup Park on Oct. 9th, but it was totally underwater…don’t waste your time.
  • I haven’t yet hiked the East Lake Jesup Tract or the North Cameron Tract this year.  If anyone has seen these areas recently, please let me know if they were dry.
    • UPDATE:  I heard from one of my readers on Oct 11th that the North Cameron Tract is dry this year, but the flowers are not as profuse as they are in the Marl Bed Flats.

PSS:  Fellow local photographer Ed Rosack was out at the fields yesterday also.  Here is his report:

PSSS:  Here is a shot of my 6′ son in the fields yesterday:

Lake Jesup WIldflowers Sunflowers in Central Florida
I told you these sunflowers are TALL!




This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. This is great! Thanks for the info! It’s 11/7, and I know nothing about Florida sunflowers; Does anyone know if these are annually bloomed? I assume they are summer flowers, but again, I’m ignorant.

    1. Hi Cary,
      Yes, these bloom annually around the first week of October and the bloom lasts a couple weeks. Something to put on your schedule for 2016! Jeff

  2. Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for sharing! Any idea whether the flowers are still looking pretty? I would like to take a trip out tomorrow.

    1. Hi Sonia,
      I was out there Tuesday and although the flowers are past their peak, the fields were still very colorful. I’d say about half the flowers are left…which is still plenty!

  3. Thanks for posting the directions. Went out there yesterday – was so happy to be among the flowers – even if the mosquitos were also there. You are right the flowers are tall which makes getting a good shot of the fields more difficult. Do you take a ladder or step stool?

    1. Hi Nita,
      Actually, I just use a tall tripod. I raise the center column all the way up and that puts my camera at about 7′ or so, which gets it over most of the flowers. One secret is to walk out into the fields and then shoot back toward the oak hammock. The fields are slightly lower than the hammock so your shot will better show the flower field than if you shoot toward the lake (in which case the field slopes away from you). You certainly could bring a ladder…I haven’t yet, but I might if I could find one light enough!

  4. Jeff

    thank you very much for the stunning pictures and clear direction. I was taking photos this morning by the highway, and a fellow photographer mentioned there are directions on the web, so here I am. glad I checked and will be there first thing in the morning tomorrow!

    1. Hi Andy,
      Glad you found the info helpful and hope you have a great time out there this morning. Don’t forget the mosquito spray!

      1. Hi, Jeff

        I did went there on Sunday morning, and I was SO thrilled being there, seeing only the flowers, not even another soul(saw another car parked outside though). Took some great pictures and had a great time. I ended up going to both yellow and red spots, although red area is totally wet and I was wading in water the whole time, but it felt like a thrilling adventure.

        1. Hi Andy,
          Glad my blog helped you find the spot. Sounds like you had a great time. Maybe I’ll see you out there next year!

Leave a Reply

Close Menu
Close Panel