Sunday, January 4, 2015

Trails of Disney World

While engaging in the Great American Pilgrimage (aka Family Trip to Disney World) for the second time in my life, I decided to see what this bastion of American culture, capitalism, and consumerism had in the way of trails and nature.

While they could do a lot more in terms of hiking and biking infrastructure (call me if you need ideas) we did manage to get in a nice float, nature walk/hike, and a jog.

The Float

We rented kayaks at the Bike Barn in the middle of the Fort Wilderness Campground. The smallest loop there is about a mile long, but we threw in a little extra and paddled about two miles. While it didn't feel entirely wild or natural, this float was unique. We saw lots of interesting birds, a few turtles, and no alligators while paddling through campsites and along channels that generally had one bank mowed (presumably for safety or accessibility).

The Hike

When I saw a map showing a "nature path" at the Wilderness Lodge I knew I needed to check it out. While there were some humorous fake geothermal features (modeled after those found at Yellowstone) near the lodge, the actual nature trail turned out to be fairly scenic and natural. We even saw some deer. The loop shown on the map below is under a mile long. The part near the lake is unpaved and has a few short dirt paths branching off of it (not sure if they were official or animal trails). The section of the loop nearest the road was paved and connects to the nearby campsite where we floated.

Imitation Geothermal Feature near Lodge.

So many species living on this one tree.


The Jog

For the jog, I did the New Balance Running Trail and a little extra near Epcot and The Boardwalk. In the morning, the paths around the parks and resorts are almost deserted and they make for interesting jogging routes. The official loop around the lake is about 0.8 mi. while the longer version that I did shown below is 1.7 and includes a bit more scenery along the waterway to the south headings towards Hollywood Studios.

A Little Nature behind the Beach Club Resort

Interesting Architecture

Deserted Paths

Shipwreck Waterslide

Bonus: Castaway Cay Bike/Walking Trail

After Disney World, some of us continued onto a Disney Cruise. This included a day at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the Bahamas. I started the day by participating the the relaxed Castaway Cay 5k and then got in some snorkeling and swimming before walking the trail to the lookout tower. This asphalt trail is wide and flat and great for biking or strolling with children. While I would have preferred a more natural trail and fewer Disney props along the way, it was interesting see how thick the vegetation was here. The lookout tower provided a great view of the island and the massive cruise ship docked there.

The loop part alone is about a mile and going to the tower and back from the more popular parts of the island is more like a 1.5 - 2 mile trip.

View of Disney Cruise Ship and Trail from Tower

Trail with Ship in Background

Dense Vegetation of Castaway Cay

Lookout Tower

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