Lake June in Winter Scrub State Park


Located just east of Lake Placid, Florida on the ancient Lake Wales Ridge - the backbone of South Florida - is Lake June in Winter Scrub State Park. The ecosystem here predates the Florida Peninsula, taking the visitor back in time a million years.


The casual Florida tourist will appreciate so many other Florida state and local parks rather than the "scrub" at Lake June in Winter Scrub State Park. However, for seasoned Florida trekkers this park offers opportunities rarely found at other parks. Here you can walk in a pristine environment viewing an ecosystem shaped by nature over hundreds of thousands of years or more. It's your best chance to investigate the "high country" of the lower Florida peninsula - the Lake Wales Ridge.


Perhaps you've seen the Lake Wales Ridge on a drive? It starts up around the Orlando area, roughly parallels US Highway 27 south and ends around Venus, Florida. Throughout the 100-mile or so journey you can catch glimpses of this 200-300 foot high line of hills east of the highway. Alternate Route 27 is a scenic drive through the small towns on the ridge; a twisting, roller-coaster road through the lakes and valleys, orange groves and residential developments of the ridge. A picturesque drive to be sure but not a substitute for actually exploring these huge, old sandy hills.


You'll hear no ocean surf as you walk across these ancient sand dunes; the waters forming them receded tens-of-thousands of years ago leaving them high and dry. What used to be a string of islands in a vast sea south of present day Georgia is now a ridge of sand, dramatically rising from the flatlands of South Florida. The ecosystems shaped in these high hills so many centuries ago manage to survive today; but only barely escaping the heavy hand of man. The Lake June in Winter Scrub State Park is part of only fifteen percent of these hills not altered or developed in some fashion.


Walking the sugar-sand of the trails here is no easy task. Stride after stride your feet will slip and slide as each foot sinks into the soft earth forcing you into the plodding walk of beachgoers in heavy sand. You'll begin to appreciate the adaptation of some of the ridge's animals and plants to their environment, especially those who travel not on top of the sand but through the sand! Summer's searing heat makes this exploration all the more unpleasant so it's best to try this in the early morning or another season.


Birders looking for the most famous resident of Lake June in Winter Scrub State Park - the Scrub Jay - can keep occupied with the assortment of sights and sounds from the parks many other feathered inhabitants. Mornings seem to be especially rich in bird calls and songs, and walks along the trails produce an abundance of cracklings in the brush as the animals scurry away from intruders. Slow and stealthy paces afford the best opportunity to get a glimpse of some of the skinks, snakes, birds and other wildlife here. During the appropriate season you'll also, surprisingly, find some beautiful wildflowers and butterflies in the area.


Make sure that you've reviewed some literature on Lake June in Winter Scrub State Park before you go. It's a lot more interesting when you understand the development and history of the area. There are many oddities and unique characteristics to the plant and animal life that may be seen in the park; in fact, some plants and animals can't be seen anywhere else on earth! Internet searches on the park's name and "Lake Wales Ridge" will turn up some valuable reading material, some far more detailed and scientific than most will care to explore but it will easily help you to appreciate this "Florida desert."


The Lake June in Winter Scrub State Park is an unmonitored, remote area you'll explore so prepare well with adequate clothing and footwear, water, sun protection and bug repellant. Remember also to "take only pictures; leave only footprints."

Lake June in Winter Scrub State Park

Lake June in Winter Scrub State Park - parking and entrance area


View of Lake June in Winter

View of Lake June in Winter from park


Lake June in Winter Scrub State Park hiking trail

Lake June in Winter Scrub State Park hiking trail early morning


View of scrub along the trail in Lake June in Winter Scrub State Park

View of scrub along the trail


Typical view along trails of Lake June in Winter Scrub State Park


Trails have some shady areas


Sand pine with pine cones


Tiny wildflowers can be found


Flowering prickly pear cactus


Eastern tiger swallowtail along trail


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