You can Paddle Board or kayak to an island in the middle of the many chains of lakes in the center of Orlando; known to locals but a hidden jewel to visitors. Stop to have lunch there, then head back or keep exploring the large chain of lakes in the heart of Winter Park and Maitland.

Starting at Fort Maitland Park, free entrance and parking, unload your water transport unto the designated area. Be mindful of other people as this is a popular spot to unload big boats as well as small crafts. In general, it is easy to get out of the bay made by the lake on this particular spot, Dog island is located directly east and slightly to the left of the peninsula; be mindful that making it back to the dock might be harder as many times the waves and wind work against you when going back, some days the opposite is true, however, and it might be harder to get out of the bay than it is to go back in to the dock. Just be ready to get some arm workout if you are using man powered crafts. When you arrive to dog island, there will be several places where to land your craft, the best place in my opinion is the south side of the island, however, any place will work. The island is equipped with fire places, benches, and tables where to set up your picnic area. These commodities, however, are limited and might not be available on busy days.

You can make dog island your first stop or your last of this trip, there are close to 10 miles available to travel around the lakes, and close to six different lakes that connect through a network of channels and natural water ways. Be sure to be safe as this area has private and commercial boats that sail through the chain of lakes, particularly when crossing a channel between lakes, spaces can become really tight very quickly.

Lastly, a tip every Floridian knows, and every visitor should know, any body of water greater than ten feet can and will host an alligator. Be sure to respect the wildlife and know that when swimming on these lakes you might encounter alligators; although seldom seen during the winter, summer days can be full of them. These lakes have lots of people around, so if you find yourself in trouble be sure there can be help around and readily available. Fingers crossed, it won’t come to that, but in the case of an emergency, rest assured that you will receive help as these lakes are not outside city limits and are a true hidden gem in the middle of a large urban area as Orlando.

Upon return to Fort Maitland Park, there will be bathrooms available and extra picnic area in case you find yourself in need of it. Be sure to be out of the water by sunset as visibility and risk increases. Stay safe and most importantly have fun. 

Pack List

  • Stand up paddle board/s
  • Canoe/s
  • Kayaks
  • Waterproof Camera/ Action Camera
  • Swimming Suit
  • Water Footwear
  • Dry Bag/s
  • Food of your preference
  • Beverages of choice
  • Straps to attach equipment to SUP/Canoe/Kayak
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Activities Stand Up Paddle, Canoeing, Photography, Kayaking, Swimming
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Lake
Picnic Area
Romantic
Scenic
Wildlife

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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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