The Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is located near Christmas, Florida, and includes 30,701 acres of undeveloped natural property situated midway between Orlando and Titusville. This impressive natural, undeveloped area meanders along approximately 19 miles of the St. Johns River in eastern Orange County on its course from South of route 520 to route 50, providing a broad range of outdoor activities for visitors to the area. Seasonal creeks, pine forests, cypress swamps, cabbage palm hammocks, and freshwater marshes form a majority of the 3600-square-mile St. Johns River watershed property. These diverse ecosystems provide habitats for the many endangered flora and fauna species found here; including the gopher tortoise, the hand fern and cutthroat grass, along with numerous birds and butterflies not commonly encountered elsewhere.
An abundance of both resident and migratory birds, along with wildlife such as white-tailed deer, fox squirrels, alligators, and otters can be seen in the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area. Orchids and bromeliads can be found festooning tree trunks and limbs. Ground ferns are commonly seen carpeting the hammocks, and numerous wildflowers such as spring blooming irises provide a constantly changing landscape throughout the year.
Common in Tosohatchee along both the James Creek and Tosohatchee Creek (originally named Tootoosahatchee Creek), sections of old-growth cypress trees can be found her. Many of these trees are quite large specimens which escaped the extensive logging activities in Florida of the last century. Several service access roads extending eastward from Fish Hole Road end in cypress forests, which often include not only impressive mature trees, but numerous cypress “knees” which creates a unique and interesting landscape. Visitors traveling Fish Hole Road will cross a section of this ecosystem on their way to Lake Charlie and can take the opportunity to view this habitat during their drive. Exploring these cypress forests can also provide an inviting respite from the heat during the summer months and a unique Florida experience any time of year.
Tosohatchee WMA attracts hikers, bicyclists, equestrians and naturalists of all interests. In the recent several years it has increasingly become a popular destination for those seeking to explore Florida nature close at hand. There is a small entrance fee ($3 per vehicle daily use) which provides assistance to cover the cost of property maintenance, and is paid at the entrance kiosk by envelope (no change available). Primitive camping is available for small groups, equestrians, and hikers at the camping location on St. Nicholas Road with advance reservations. The only amenities available include small grills, picnic tables, primitive toilet (outhouse) and new in 2011 … a picnic shelter.
There are abundant trails blazed and generally well maintained throughout Tosohatchee WMA (trail map) in addition to the many service access roads created for fire and general maintenance activities. The Florida Trail passes through Tosohatchee from Route 50, crossing Tosohatchee Creek, Powerline Road and following Yates Road toward Route 528. The trail is usually maintained reasonably well, and two new bridges have been constructed (one adjacent to Powerline Road in 2010, and most recently crossing Tosohatchee (Tootoosahatchee) Creek in 2012) to facilitate hikers along this section of the Florida Trail.
Popular fishing spots for anglers include the St. Johns River at the end of Powerline Road and two man-made lakes.. Lake Charlie and Peek-a-Boo Pond which can be easily accessed with parking available close at hand. T-Shirt Lake is less accessible and generally a destination of more experienced hikers. Another recent addition to the Tosohatchee WMA in 2011 include a new fishing platform, along with two small sheltered picnic tables and a primitive toilet at Lake Charlie. The fishing platform also provides an excellent wildlife viewing vantage point for the numerous birds and other local residents of the area. Click on the image below to take a look around Lake Charlie.
Hunting in Tosohatchee is provided by quota hunts which occur on a limited basis from September to March (2012 – 2013 hunt calendar). During a scheduled hunt, equestrian activities are restricted, but the WMA is open for other recreational opportunities. Visitors should make every effort to respect hunter activities and avoid interfering with their efforts. Be especially mindful of safety during these hunts and remain in the more open and maintained areas when possible.