This is Hike #22 in the book 50 Hikes in Central Florida, completed on June 28, 2020.
Lake Proctor Wilderness Area is located in east Seminole County, less than an hour drive from Daytona Beach. This was the first of two hikes on this day, so I arrived early around 9:15 am.
From the trailhead I followed the Red Trail north, passing the Orange Trail and the Blue Trail. I intended to hike those trails on the way back.
The Red Trail was a wide, shady trail and a perfect start to the day.
Just before reaching the northern end of the Red Trail, I spotted a smooth white rock with the words “CATS UK” and a smiley painted on it. I assume it is from the Painted Rocks Game, but I did not try to look it up. I took a photo and left it where it was.
At the northern intersection of the trail, I turned right and began the Red Trail Loop. When the trail split, I turned left to hike the loop clockwise. Almost immediately a blaze on a short post sent me into a bushy area with no clearly marked trail. I followed it around as best I could until I found another blaze on a post where it rejoined the normal trail.
I continued through some tall scrub on a winding trail before coming into a clearing and arriving at a shelter. I perused the posted information while resting and drinking some water. Soon I was heading around the western point of the Red Trail Loop.
Suddenly I heard voices behind me and wondered how someone might have caught me so soon after leaving the shelter. However, I arrived at a wide, sandy cross-trail where I saw three people on horseback approaching. I stopped and stood still to let them pass, although the lead horse did flinch a bit on seeing me. I briefly chatted with the riders as they passed and then continued on my way.
The day was heating up and after a bit more hiking through the scrub, the book told me to follow the power lines road back to the top of the loop. This section was hot and sunny. But soon I reached the top, turned left, and walked toward the Blue Trail, passing the end of the Red Trail.
Now on the Blue Trail, I came to another rain shelter. Again, I stopped to read the poster and have a few swigs of water. I knew that from here, most of the remaining trail was shaded and the most scenic of the hike.
I hiked south and soon arrived along the shore of Lake Proctor. Patches of open, glassy water were broken up by groups of lily pads. A few structures could be seen on the opposite shore. It was very quiet and peaceful.
The Blue Trail meandered along Lake Proctor, approaching the shore several times. At one point a short side trail cut through a field of tall flowers where several butterflies floated around me. Here there was also a Hydrologic Data Collection Site for the St. Johns River Water Management District.
The Blue Trail left the lake and ended at the Red Trail where I turned right. Very quickly I reached the Orange Trail and turned right, hiking back towards the lake.
Near the southern end of Lake Proctor the Orange Trail passed through the Eastbrook Wetlands, named for the local school.
The Orange Trail curved partway around the southern tip of the lake where I took my last glimpse (and photos) before walking the last section to reach the Read Trail again.
Back on the Red Trail it was only a few minutes more until I hiked out around 11:20 am. The hiked lasted exactly two hours.
This was the first of two hikes on this day. My second hike was at #23 Geneva Wilderness Area.