A stay at the Lakeside Inn jogged my memory of when I first discovered Palm Island Park. I was in the thick of researching a travel guide, and had walked down to the Dora Lighthouse to take some photos. I noticed people out on a boardwalk on the distant shoreline, and thought it was interesting enough to find out why, especially since egrets were flying in to roost amid the trees. There, at the end of the street, a portal: an open gate to a boardwalk leading to Palm Island.
Location: Mt. Dora
Length: Up to 1 mile
Lat-Long: 28.793683, -81.641817
Fees / Permits: none
Difficulty: 1 of 5
Bug factor: 3 of 5
The park opens at 9 AM and closes at sunset. I suggest you depart the boardwalk before the birds come in to roost!
From US 441, follow Donnelly St. through downtown Mount Dora. Turn left on E. 3rd Avenue, and right on S. Tremain St. Continue to the end of the street where it intersects with Liberty Ave, and park in the lot.
The narrow boardwalk hugs the shoreline of Lake Dora along a line of tall pond cypress. Look down, and you’ll see alligators lurking in the shallows, or coots and moorhens squawking amid the cattails. When the boardwalk reaches the island, you can walk down a staircase and start exploring the footpaths – and you should, given the jungle feel of the palm and live oak hammock – or continue along more boardwalk to the open lakefront to enjoy the scenery and watch for birds. There are benches where you can sit and sketch or write in your journal, savoring the breeze off the lake and the birdsong in the trees.