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Trip report: Jan. 2017

Winter Park Chain of Lakes... Urban Paddling in Central Florida

The Winter Park Chain of Lakes consists of six lakes connected by navigable canals - Lake Virginia, Lake Mizell, Lake Osceola, Lake Maitland, Lake Nina and Lake Minnehaha. Located in Winter Park and Maitland and close to downtown Orlando, the lakes are popular for paddleboarding, kayaking, waterskiing, boating and fishing. We found the canals - offering shelter from both wind and sun - to be some of the most pleasant paddling. (Detailed map and photos below.)

paddle Winter Park Chain of Lakes

Distance: Varies (3 miles between Dinky Dock and Fort Maitland)
Location: Orange County
Difficulty: Easy
Tidal: No
Launch points: Dinky Dock (Winter Park), Fort Maitland (Maitland) (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Rollins College, Morse Museum of American Art, Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Garden

Winter Park Chain of Lakes... Comments and Photos

There are two public launches with parking: at Dinky Dock on Lake Virginia in Winter Park, and at Fort Maitland Park in Maitland. Boats with motors must obtain a permit from either city - while the signs are not clear, we confirmed this requirement does not apply to non-motorized vessels. We saw other small neighborhood ramps, but no parking. Views include birds, lush scenery, private homes and some historic estates. The Rollins College rowing team may be seen practicing. Motor boats and jet skis share the lakes so be watchful.


Dinky Dock - Lake Virginia - Lake Mizell - Lake Osceola

Lake Virginia - Lake Mizell

We launched from Dinky Dock (Ollie Avenue off Fairbanks) and paddled around Lakes Virginia, Mizell and Osceola. Dinky Dock Park has parking, restrooms, fishing dock, beach, picnic tables and grills. The beach next to the dock is an alternate for launching.


 

Fern Canal - Lake Osceola

Through Fern Canal to Lake Osceola. Glimpse Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Garden from the lake. The Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour is popular, leaving from Lake Osceola. Be mindful of these wide tour boats in the narrow canals - even small kayaks may need to back up to a wider passing point, which is all part of the experience.


 

Venetian Canal

Connecting Lake Osceola to Lake Maitland, the longest canal. All the canals are narrow, mostly shaded, and lined with semi-tropical vegetation. Paddle past homes and boathouses along the canals, too.


Fort Maitland Park - Lake Maitland - Lake Nina - Lake Minnehana

Fort Maitland Park to Kraft Azalea Gardens

We launched from Fort Maitland Park (off Orlando Avenue, Hwy 17/92) and paddled around Lake Maitland. Fort Maitland Park has parking, picnic area and restrooms. Kraft Azalea Gardens is a lovely park, a hidden gem. The Exedra arch is popular for weddings; a small beach at the eastern corner of the park requires a short carry but another launch option for kayakers and paddleboarders.


 

More on Lake Maitland

A little bridge connects to Isle of Sicily, a residential neighborhood. The small beach on Dog Island is a popular stop for paddlers and boaters.


 

Lake Nina - Lake Minnehaha

A canal off Lake Maitland runs past Lake Nina (smallest of the lakes) to Lake Minnehaha. Alongside the canal under the bridge at Horatio Avenue you'll see a bike trail - part of the Maitland Bike Route (link below).


Wildlife

Some of many birds seen on the lakes.

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