Lake Louisa State Park is an award-winning park on 4,500 acres offering camping, hiking, biking, picnicking, Equestrian horse trails, fishing, and a canoe launch. The park is located off of US 27 in Clermont, Florida which is nicely situated in the middle of nowhere. It is about 30 miles from Disney and also 30 miles from downtown Orlando. The cost of admission to the park is $4.00 per vehicle and opens at 8AM until sunset each day.
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This is a well-maintained park that is still quite preserved. Since there is very little development here you will not find a playground, swimming pool, snack bar, and things to entertain you like you can find in some parks. There are 6 lakes, 2 streams, and 105 acres of Lake Shoreline. The park has a variety of scenery, there is wooded areas, lake fronts, and open planes. You will see hundreds of acres of natural undisturbed orange groves as you drive through the park, and a lot of wildlife without ever getting on a trail. In addition to many other species, Lake Louisa is particularly proud to be the home to the greatest population of Gopher Tortoise. The park is restoring the sand dunes to help protect their habitat.
Lake Louisa has a brand new campground that just opened in 2004. There are 60 campsites for recreational vehicles and they have all the amenities that campers look for such as electricity, a sparkling new bathhouse extremely close to the campground, there is a dump station, and the lots are very level. Most of the sites are lakefront view and there is access to the lake near the bathhouse. The campground rate is $21.00+tax per night; a discount is given for Florida residents.
The primitive camping sites are not in the same area as the campground. There are four different locations one being the Equestrian camping, and another being the Youth camping. Primitive camping rate is $4.00 per person plus tax. Fire rings, picnic tables, and grills are available. There is no electricity, water, and sometimes no restroom facilities in the primitive camping areas. Be sure to take lots of water because there is no potable water in the primitive areas.
New cabins overlooking the lake are being built but are not quite finished. I believe the opening is projected for the spring 2005; they look very inviting! In addition to the beautiful lakefront view there is a bathhouse and lake access nearby. Pets are not allowed in the cabins.
Reservations for a campsite at Lake Louisa can be made up to 11 months in advance. Reservations can be made online at www.reserveamerica.com or by calling 800-326-3521. Pets are allowed in the camper and the primitive parking areas but not the cabins.
I have mixed feelings about camping at Lake Louisa State Park. On the positive side this is a much safer park than others that we have been been to when it comes to the type of people that hang out there. This is off the beaten path and it is rare that you even come into contact with another person. We have been there a few times and have never seen more than a handful of campers. It is also a very dark park. The park is miles of untainted nature and you are parked right on the lake. There are alligators in the lake. Not maybe, there are. There is also other wildlife animals that you might not want to come into contact with while walking to the bathhouse at night especially if sleeping in a tent! I've probably just seen too many movies, I've never heard of any such incidents.
Youll walk across a long wooden walkway to get to the beach area. The area beneath this is marsh and we have found many things living there. When you arrive to the lake there is a small beach area that is rather natural. There are all kinds of gross natural things that have washed up on it. You can take a walk along the water on the beach. The beach is usually very windy and temperature a little less than the parking area is. There are some picnic tables along the beach but we found it way to windy to eat and went to the shaded picnic table in the parking area. There are restroom facilities at this location.
Boating and Fishing
Boat launching must be arranged 24 hours in advance and boats must be off of the water at least an hour before sunset. There is not an area to rent canoes or kayaks but you can bring your own and launch them from Lake Dixie or Lake Hammond. Fishing access can be found at Dixie Lake, Lake Louisa, and Hammond Lake.
Walking and Biking Trails
Trails are open form 8AM until one hour prior to sunset. Always take plenty of water on your trip because there wont be any available at the park. The hiking and biking can be accessed from parking lot and at the ranger station parking lot. From what I can tell there are 8 wilderness trails. Many of the trails are short; five of the trails are .4 miles or less. Deer run is .6 miles and Tortoise trail is .9 miles. The longest trail, Hilltop Pass, is 1.7 miles.
There are over 30 miles of trail and a special camping ground for those with horses. Proof of negative coggins is required for all horses. The Equestrian camping site does not have a paved drive leading to it so all-wheel drive may be required. There is an annual horse competition in October. There is also an obsticle trail challenge in November.
In addition to the October and November horse activities they have other festivals throughout the year. In March they have a field day. Admission is free that day and they have environmentally-focused events and workshops.
Coffee with a Ranger runs October through May from 9-10AM. Campers and visitors can share stories with the rangers.
Things to Consider
Lake Louisa is part of a chain of lakes and home to hordes of mosquitoes. The minute the sun goes down the mosquitoes attack. Even if you are outside 10 minutes after dusk you will look like you have the chicken pox the next day. My suggestion is to find the strongest mosquito repellent you can. If you plan on sitting in your lounge chair and enjoy the night air the mosquitoes may foil your plan.
Florida is also a tropical climate so spending time outside will require drinking more water than normal. A lot of this park is wilderness and there really isnt anywhere to get a drink of water so bringing some is recommended.
If you will be visiting from out of town you may not be aware of the dangers that live around lakes. Alligators are abundant and live in and near all of the lakes in Florida. Mating season for alligators is May-June so they become particularly aggressive at that time. They are particularly fond of dogs.
The area also has a lot of fire ants which we noticed congregated around the picnic areas. My daughter was picking up leaves and got attacked by some. They appear to be normal little ants but they are actually fire ants which attack in packs and are quite painful. Not a big deal, just something to keep in mind if your kids like to sit on the ground or dig in it.
What We Do
We usually dont stay long at the park because its usually so hot and were not on vacation. When we do go the kids like to take a picnic lunch, then stop and look at the orange groves (it is illegal to enter them). We like to walk down to the beach and take a look at beautiful Lake Louisa. Lake Hammond has a deck that walks out onto the lake we like to go there and see how many fish we can see; there are also a lot of lily pads floating in the water that they find interesting. The camping looks attractive but we dont camp. We are considering trying the cabins once they are completed.
I think Lake Louisa has a lot to offer for the true nature buff who wants to study animals or get some really great wildlife pictures. This would be an excellent place to come if you have horses. This obviously isnt somewhere that you would drive from another state to see, but if youre coming to Orlando or Kissimmee and want to get away from the city environment this would be a nice spot. The campsites with a lake view seem quite inviting to me!
Lake Louisa State Park
7305 US Hwy 27
Clermont, FL 34711
Park Ranger: 352-394-3969
Camping Reservations 800-326-3521
Other Things around Orlando:
Universal Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios, Orlando Sea World, Cypress Gardens Adventure Park
Orlando Science Museum, The Florida Aquarium
The Mall at Millenia, The Florida Mall, Universal CityWalk
Universal Margaritaville at CityWalk, Hard Rock Cafe at Citywalk, NBA City at Citywalk, Seasons 52, New York Pizza Deli, Jungle Jim's, Bajama Breeze
Best time to go: December-February
Recommended for: Couples
Review Topic: Overview