751 S. State Road 415, Osteen FL 32764
You're not going to get a ton of information on this weeks location, not because I didn't love it, but because it's just a simple good ol' Florida location. My husband and I stumbled on this park when we were driving home from Blue Springs State Park (want to see that blog post? Click here) he decided to take me on the scenic route, many times this typically ends up with us getting lost or turned around and me shouting out "I told you we should've taken the highway", but more often...it ends up with us finding some great off the beaten path places in, and around Central FL. Two things drew us to park the car and take a look, #1 was the awesome Beck Ranch Park sign that you could see from the road, and #2 the Lake Monroe Conservation Area hiking marker. Done...make a U-turn and park the car, "girls we're going on a hike!
Let's start with the Lake Monroe Conservation Area first. Yes...this is the entrance, and yes...you are going to be hiking through an active cattle field, and yes...along with that comes some messy hazards if you know what I mean. As long as you are willing to put up with that, the adventure is fun. Now, with that being said, my 2 teenage girls, Julia age 15 and Kayla age 13 needed some convincing to get out of the car, and yes...as with most teenagers I got the typical eye roll from the 15 year old along with "are you kidding me...we're hiking in cow poop". I, as always, cheerfully said "yup, now get out of the car!" There is something so wonderful about hiking in a remote area, #1 is the peace and quite that nature gives affords us and #2 is limited cellphone service. It's wonderful to watch the girls figure out what to do, or get this...maybe have a face to face conversation with each other.
This conservation area is over 7,000 acres with 94% of that being wetlands. The wonderful thing about hiking through the wetlands is that the wildlife is always abundant. Here you have the opportunity to see eagles, hawks, wading birds, alligators, opossums, raccoons, armadillos, turkey, deer and more. The land was purchased in 1987 from Minnie Beck Kratzert, whose family owned the property and used it as a cattle ranch for many years. Hence, why the park right next door is called the Beck Ranch Park. With over 8 miles of trails for either hiking, biking or horse back riding I am sure that you will find a route that is perfect for your family. Keep in mind that these trails are rural, some portions have little to no shade. You need to be prepared for excessive heat, sudden rain, and sandy trails.
So let's move on to the Beck Ranch Park. This park sits on over 250-acres of beautiful land surrounded by massive oak trees, and trails. The park was once part of the Beck Family ranch a working cattle ranch. The Beck Family raised cattle and sold off the young, they sold cow hide and meat all from this ranch. While the Beck family has since moved on from this land, the land still holds the remnants of its prior life. While walking through the park you are sure to stumble on the old silo, where grain was kept to feed a few of the farm animals. Further up the path you will find the slaughter house, yes every working ranch had one, and beyond the slaughter house is the cattle pen. The county does an amazing job at mixing old and new, it is defiantly a park that you want to take a look at.