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Lake Woodruff NWR

Birding / Hiking / Adventuring Roadtrip Info

Andrew Thoreson
Apr 2020
 Typical view [?]
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Typical View (18)

Snapshots! (9)
GRADES: Click each for info, * = Note
How Big Not Rated
Importance Not Rated
Revisit? B
Birding B
Wildlife A
Summer Heat D
Terrain B
Fun Hike B
Maintained B
Mosquitos D
Biting Files C
Ticks C
 LOCATION: Accuracy: Read me
Map On Big Map: Click map (or on google maps). Address: 2045 Mud Lake Road, DeLeon Springs, FL, Volusia, USA, 32130

1) What It's Like

This place is big but mostly people stick to the area I'll describe first - Mud Lake Road. It's basically a few pools filled with grasses that visually form a prairie like expanse with islands of tall trees. It's adjacent to Ocala National Forest so it's bear country, you might see some wildlife, and at least at certain times of year you'll get a show with raptors - specifically swallow tailed kites. 

2) Kinds of Birds

Woodpeckers are what we saw. Second largest pre-migration roosting spot for swallow tailed kites in the US but that's in August/September.

3) Wildlife

Heart of bear country - so everything else should be possible.

4) Amenities

Very little. Composting toilets and security cameras is all we ran into. Trailheads were maintained well though.

5) Directions

If you search with your phone it might take you to the admin offices (some buildings). They are on Mudd Lake Road and you just keep heading west. It kind of seems like you're driving to an eventual dead end road in suburbia but keep going, cross the rail road tracks and you'll start seeing trails and end up in the main parking lot. See Experience section for more detail on this and the existence of other parts of the park.

6) Dear Ranger

Your maps are vague about access points and online they are in strange nearly uselessly low resolution formats (BMP).

7) Time Requirements

It's fairly big but there are some short trails near the parking areas. The main attraction is to just park and take in the view. So 20 minutes to half an afternoon on foot or several days if you're exploring by kayak.


All the maps I can find online for this place are terrible - see our photos.

When you enter along Mud Lake Road you pass a visitor center that I've never stopped at - it looks like administrative offices to me. Then on the right after the railroad tracks you'll see Mayaca Trail - it's just a quarter mile long pine forest and scrub trail. It connects to another little trail called the Green Tree trail. When you reach the main paved parking area there's a little Live Oak Trail leading south from there that's a half mile loop. Those are all fine but your life wouldn't change if you missed them.

The main show is when you walk west a short distance from parking where it opens up into an expanse of grassy pools and patches/islands of trees in the distance. To the north is Spring Garden Lake - Lake Woodruff itself is somewhat far to the west. If you walk maybe a mile or so around Pool 1 to where Pool 1,2, and 3 share a corner there's an observation tower. If you go along Pool 1 on the south side you hit Hammock Trail - a half mile loop - where Pool 1 and 3 abut.

Towards the end of summer Swallow Tailed Kites gather here by the hundreds before they migrate south every year. In general though have a close look at raptors flying here. In summer this place is pretty unbearably hot - bring water. In the winter it's still very pretty and much more enjoyable not just for the weather but more likely to see warblers etc. Sunsets are particularly beautiful here.

We haven't been to the other public use areas. If you look at the official maps I've seen there are a pretty good bunch of trails at the SE end of the park - the corner of which is where highway 44 crosses the train tracks - around 2400 N New York Ave. I haven't been there but the only entrance I can find off the roads is around 2880 N Shell Rd off 44/NY Ave. Inside that area from satellite view there seem to be jeep trails - I don't know if they are for the public. Otherwise I think the way you're expected to access other areas of the park is by all the little river offshoots of the St.John's river.

This map is terrible (a low resolution BMP file - I think my grandma made this in 1998) showing public areas. This one isn't much better but also kind of shows the trails somewhat. There used to be a Friends of Lake Woodruff website but at least as of this writing they are down. If they come back they might have better maps.

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